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By the time the well was capped and the spill brought under control in July 2010, an estimated 4.9 million barrels of oil had been released into the water. As security conditions in Iraq continued to improve, the new administration began slowly removing U. military personnel, with an announced goal of ending U. combat operations by mid-2010 and exiting the country entirely by late 2011. The groundswell of opposition to the policies of the Obama administration and to “big government” that had given birth to the Tea Party movement took on an anti-Washington, anti-incumbent cast.
A hallmark of Obama’s campaign had been his contention that the Bush administration’s preoccupation with Afghanistan; Obama argued that Afghanistan should have been the focus of U. Meanwhile, in response to the resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan, in February 2009 Obama raised the total troop commitment there to 68,000 and began three months of deliberations on the military’s request for another 40,000 troops, ultimately deciding to deploy an additional 30,000 troops over the objections of many Democrats. This had an impact not only on Democrats but on Republicans too, as a raft of conservative candidates with Tea Party associations triumphed over candidates favoured by the Republican Party establishment in primary contests for the November 2010 midterm congressional election.
In the meantime, a populist reaction emerged among libertarian-minded conservatives that was generally opposed to what they considered excessive taxation, to illegal immigration, and to government intervention in the private sector.
This “Tea Party” movement gained steam during the summer of 2009, when town hall meetings were held across the country to debate proposed health care insurance reform, the signature issue of the Obama presidential campaign.
In March 2010, having secured the support of a sufficient number of House Democrats who had been opposed to aspects of the Senate plan (most notably pro-life advocates led by Rep.
Bart Stupak, whose fears that the plan would loosen limits on abortion funding were allayed by Obama’s promise of an executive order), Pelosi engineered passage of the Senate bill in a 219–212 vote (with all Republicans and 34 Democrats in opposition) on Sunday night March 21.
Although there was also strong opposition to various aspects of the plan within the Democratic Party, the House of Representatives passed a sweeping reform bill in November 2009.
The Senate was more circumspect, with Obama seemingly ceding the initiative to the so-called “Group of Six,” a group of three Republican and three Democratic senators led by conservative Democrat Sen.
(Great Recession” (which officially dated from December 2007 to June 2009 in the United States), included the most dismal two-quarter period for the U. economy in more than 60 years: GDP contracted by 8.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008 and by 6.7 percent in the first quarter of 2009.Republicans presented a united front in opposition to Democratic proposals for health care reform, branding them a “government takeover” of health care and protesting that the price tag would be devastatingly high.Some Republicans also claimed—falsely—that the Democratic plan would establish “death panels” that would deny coverage to seniors.Obama had entered office vowing to reduce partisanship in Washington, but he made little progress in that direction in his first year; indeed, the 7 billion stimulus package had been passed in the House of Representatives without a single Republican vote.
With Democrats holding substantial majorities in both houses, Obama allowed congressional leaders to shape important legislation, and Republicans, claiming that they were being largely excluded from substantive negotiations on key bills, took what most Democrats saw as an obstructionist approach, earning the nickname the “Party of No” from liberal commentators.
Ted Kennedy—who, ironically, had committed much of his career in government to health care reform.