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WE WORKED HARD FOR YOU THIS ELECTION SEASON. ProCon.org fights against media bias, political advertising, bureaucrats, and corporations that try to tell you what to think. This free website helps millions of people like you get reliable nonpartisan research to empower your own informed discussions and voting decisions. Now our nonprofit really needs your help. ProCon.org is a 501(c)(3) public charity that exists because of your contributions. Please make a tax-deductible donation today to support free and unbiased education on vital public issues, including the 2016 presidential election. Thank you SO MUCH for your support!!!!
Pro: "One of the things that I've always said is that abortion is a deeply moral issue. And those who would deny that there is a moral component to it I think are wrong. The reason that I make a decision to support the choice position is not because I don't think it's a moral issue but because I trust women to make a prayerful decision about this issue."
"Obama on Gay Marriage, Abortion," The Brody File, CBNnews.com, Nov. 7, 2007
Not Clearly Pro or Con: "I oppose spousal notification or consent [to obtain an abortion]. Regarding parental notification, I would oppose any legislation that does not include a bypass provision for minors who have been victims of, or have reason to fear, physical or sexual abuse."
"IVI-IPO 2004 US Senate Questionnaire," Independent Voters of Illinois-Independent Precinct Organization, Jan. 5, 2004
Not Clearly Pro or Con: "I think what we need right now is honesty with the American people about where we would take the country. That's how I'm trying to run my campaign. That's how I will be as president."
Not Clearly Pro or Con: "Japan has been an outstanding ally of ours for many years, but obviously China is rising, and it's not going away. They're neither our enemy nor our friend. They're competitors. But we have to make sure that we have enough military-to-military contact and forge enough of a relationship with them that we can stabilize the region."
The Democrats' First 2008 Presidential Debate, hosted by MSNBC, Orangeburg, SC, Apr. 26, 2007
Not Clearly Pro or Con: "... I am interested, as I said, in making sure that the Chinese population is fed and clothed and advancing. I think that is important. It is not, I think, in the long-term interests of China to expand solely on the backs of lowwage worker - work that is undermining US work. If we are saying to China, raise your labor standards that will over time improve the lot of Chinese workers as well as US workers. And that's what we should be looking at, is how can we improve the working conditions, the safety conditions, the consumer protections that are available for all people, and that's not what's happening right now."
Democratic Candidates' Debate, hosted by NPR, Des Moines, IA, Dec. 4, 2007
Pro: "Obama will give first-time, non-violent offenders a chance to serve their sentence, where appropriate, in the type of drug rehabilitation programs that have proven to work better than a prison term in changing bad behavior."
"Civil Rights," Barack Obama's official candidate website (accessed July 3, 2008)
Pro: "That's why, when I'm President, I will grant Cuban-Americans unrestricted rights to visit families and send remittances to the island. Because that's the way to bring about real change in Cuba. Through strong and smart diplomacy, not just tough love...
As President I am not going to take off the embargo, it's an important inducement for change because we know that Castro's death will not automatically guarantee freedom."
Excerpt of a speech given in Miami, FL, Aug. 25, 2007
Con: "Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama said Thursday [July 19, 2007] the United States cannot use its military to solve humanitarian problems and that preventing a potential genocide in Iraq isn't a good enough reason to keep US forces there.
'Well, look, if that's the criteria by which we are making decisions on the deployment of US forces, then by that argument you would have 300,000 troops in the Congo right now - where millions have been slaughtered as a consequence of ethnic strife - which we haven't done,' Obama said in an interview with The Associated Press.
'We would be deploying unilaterally and occupying the Sudan, which we haven't done. Those of us who care about Darfur don't think it would be a good idea,' he said."
"Obama: Don't Stay in Iraq Over Genocide," by Philip Elliott, The State, July 20, 2007
Pro: "While the evidence tells me that the death penalty does little to deter crime, I believe there are some crimes- mass murder, the rape and murder of a child- so heinous, so beyond the pale, that the community is justified in expressing the full measure of its outrage by meting out the ultimate punishment."
The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream, 2006
Pro: "Barack Obama will spare no effort to protect Americans from the threats posed by nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. With Iran actively moving forward with programs in both areas, it would be irresponsible not to explore the possibility of deploying missile defense systems in Europe to help protect against this threat. Such systems should only be deployed, however, if based on sound technology that works. Rather than rushing unilaterally to deploy an unproven system according to a political calendar, Obama will work closely with America's NATO [North Atlantic Treaty Organization] allies to develop technologies to confront the full range of ballistic missile threats to America and its allies. He will fully consult Russia on prospects for mutually beneficial cooperation on missile defense but will not give Russia any veto over decisions about U.S. national security."
"Barack Obama: A Stronger Partnership with Europe for a Safer America," Barack Obama's official candidate website (accessed July 10, 2008)
Not Clearly Pro or Con: Cosponsored S.1257 "A bill to provide the District of Columbia a voting seat and the State of Utah an additional seat in the House of Representatives":
"District of Columbia House Voting Rights Act of 2007 - (Sec. 2) Considers the District of Columbia a congressional district for purposes of representation in the House of Representatives.
Declares that the District shall not be considered a state for purposes of representation in the Senate...
(Sec. 5) Repeals provisions of: (1) the District of Columbia Delegate Act establishing the office of District of Columbia Delegate to the House of Representatives; and (2) the District of Columbia Statehood Constitution Convention Initiative of 1979 providing for election of a Representative for the District."
"S.1257," Library of Congress: THOMAS website, May 1, 2007
[Editor's Note: Barack Obama supports voting representation for DC in the House of Representatives as indicated in his Dec. 2007 response to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People's [NAACP] questionnaire titled "The NAACP 2008 Presidential Candidate Civil Rights Questionnaire" (1.1MB) : "I am an original cosponsor of the Senate bill that will provide the District of Columbia with voting representation in the House of Representatives...In our great democracy, it's a shame that residents of the District who pay taxes, fight in wars, and enjoy the same rights as every other American have no voting representation in our nation's capital."]
Not Clearly Pro or Con: "The No. 1 priority is jobs and job loss and that is something that is hitting communities downstate as well as here in Chicago. Everywhere I go people are out of work or they are insecure with the jobs that they have. The whole issue of outsourcing is enormously important. Not only are blue collar jobs being exported now, but you have got white collar jobs going to India and Singapore, and so people feel enormous economic insecurity and that has to be priority No. 1."
Public Affairs with Cliff Kelly, interview on WVON, 1450 AM, Chicago, IL, Feb. 27, 2004
Pro: "And I'll also oppose the Colombia Free Trade Agreement if President Bush insists on sending it to Congress because the violence against unions in Colombia would make a mockery of the very labor protections that we have insisted be included in these kinds of agreements. So you can trust me when I say that whatever trade deals we negotiate when I'm President will be good for American workers, and that they'll have strong labor and environmental protections that we'll enforce."
Excerpt of a speech in front of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), Philadelphia, PA, Apr. 2, 2008
Con: "We can't keep passing unfair trade deals like NAFTA that put special interests over workers' interests...
...I don't think NAFTA has been good for America - and I never have. I didn't just start criticizing unfair trade deals like NAFTA because I started running for office - I'm doing it because I've seen what happens to a community when the factory closes down and the jobs move overseas."
"Remarks for Senator Barack Obama: National Gypsum in Lorain, Ohio," Barack Obama's official candidate website, Feb. 24, 2008
Pro: "This is no longer just a Wall Street crisis - it' an American crisis, and it's the American economy that needs this rescue plan...
This is not a plan to just hand over $700 billion of taxpayer money to a few banks. If this is managed correctly, and that's an important if, we will hopefully get most or all of our money back, and possibly even turn a profit on the government's intervention - every penny of which will go directly back to the American people. And if we fall short, we will levy a fee on financial institutions so that they can repay for the losses they caused."
Pro: "...[A]s I look out on this crowd and as I travel across this country, the one thing I know for certain is that labor unions are still mobilizing. Labor unions are still organizing. And you're still fighting to give America's working people a voice in Washington.
I'm tired of playing defense. I know the AFL-CIO [American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organization] is tired of playing defense. We're ready to play some offense. We're ready to play offense for a decent wage. We're ready to play offense for retirement security...
We're ready to play offense for organized labor. It's time we had a President who didn't choke saying the word 'union.' A President who knows it's the Department of Labor and not the Department of Management. And a President who strengthens our unions by letting them do what they do best - organize our workers. If a majority of workers want a union, they should get a union."
"Remarks for Senator Barack Obama: AFL-CIO," Barack Obama's official candidate website, Apr. 2, 2008
Con: "No Child Left Behind Left the Money Behind: The goal of the law was the right one, but unfulfilled funding promises, inadequate implementation by the Education Department and shortcomings in the design of the law itself have limited its effectiveness and undercut its support. As a result, the law has failed to provide high-quality teachers in every classroom and failed to adequately support and pay those teachers."
Pro: "And so, as I stood in those Illinois colleges listening to students tell me about their problems, I started thinking, when did the cost of college stop becoming our problem? When did the headlines about skyrocketing tuition start getting crowded out by Michael Jackson and Martha Stewart, and when did this national priority start playing second fiddle to the latest partisan food fight in Washington?
I'm not sure, but I do know that I've met enough good citizens who think about the other guy and want to change this. And I believe there are enough members of both parties who want to start this country down the path of making college affordable and accessible for every American...
I believe it's time for Congress to follow your lead. This week, I'm introducing the Higher Education Opportunity through Pell Grant Expansion Act - the HOPE Act. This bill will make college more affordable for 430,000 Americans by increasing Pell Grant awards."
"Remarks of Senator Barack Obama at the Herblock Foundation Annual Lecture," Barack Obama's official candidate website, Apr. 6, 2005
[Editor's Note: Prior to Barack Obama's Feb. 13, 2008 Not Clearly Pro or Con position above, his position was Con as indicated in his July 10, 2007 statement below.]
Con: "We need to invest in our public schools and strengthen them, not drain their fiscal support. And for this reason I do not support vouchers. In the end, vouchers would reduce the options available to children in need. I fear these children would truly be left behind in a private market system."
"2008 US Presidential Candidate Questionnaire," American Federation of Teachers, July 10, 2007
Con: "...[W]hat I have consistently talked about is to take a comprehensive approach where we focus on abstinence, where we are teaching the sacredness of sexuality to our children.
But we also recognize the importance of good medical care for women, that we're also recognizing the importance of age-appropriate education to reduce risks. I do believe that contraception has to be part of that education process."
Pro: Cosponsor of the "Ballot Integrity Act of 2007" (S.1487), a bill "To amend the Help America Vote Act of 2002 to require an individual, durable, voter-verified paper record under title III of such Act, and for other purposes":
"TITLE II-BALLOT INTEGRITY
Sec. 201. Promoting accuracy, integrity, and security through individual, durable, voter-verified paper records.
Sec. 202. Requirement for mandatory manual audits."
Pro: "In 1998, Obama joined forces with former US Sen. Paul Simon (D-IL) to pass the toughest campaign finance law in Illinois history. The legislation banned the personal use of campaign money by Illinois legislators and banned most gifts from lobbyists. Before the law was passed, one organization ranked Illinois worst among 50 states for its campaign finance regulations."
"Ethics," Barack Obama's official candidate website (accessed Jan. 8, 2008)
Pro: "I have been a long-time advocate for public financing of campaigns combined with free television and radio time as a way to reduce the influence of moneyed special interests. I introduced public financing legislation in the Illinois State Senate, and am the only 2008 candidate to have sponsored Senator Russ Feingold's (D-WI) bill to reform the presidential public financing system. In February 2007, I proposed a novel way to preserve the strength of the public financing system in the 2008 election. My plan requires both major party candidates to agree on a fundraising truce, return excess money from donors, and stay within the public financing system for the general election. My proposal followed announcements by some presidential candidates that they would forgo public financing so they could raise unlimited funds in the general election. The Federal Election Commission ruled the proposal legal, and Senator John McCain (R-AZ) has already pledged to accept this fundraising pledge. If I am the Democratic nominee, I will aggressively pursue an agreement with the Republican nominee to preserve a publicly financed general election."
[Editor's Note: In a June 20, 2008 USA Today article titled "I Support Public Financing and Will Work to Make It Viable," Barack Obama explained why he supports public financing and why he is opting out of it:
"The decision not to participate in the public financing system wasn't an easy one â€” especially because I support a robust system of public financing of elections. But the public financing of presidential elections, as it exists today, is broken â€” and the Republican Party apparatus has mastered the art of gaming this broken system...
I wholeheartedly agree with the idea that we need to limit the influence of big donors on campaigns, and I've co-sponsored legislation to fix the system â€” legislation Sen. McCain does not support. I am firmly committed to reforming the system as president, so that it's viable in today's campaign climate."]
Con: "I strongly reject drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge because it would irreversibly damage a protected national wildlife refuge without creating sufficient oil supplies to meaningfully affect the global market price or have a discernable impact on US energy security."
"Presidential Candidates Views on ANWR [Arctic National Wildlife Refuge]: The Democrats," anwr.org (accessed Oct. 24, 2007)
Not Clearly Pro or Con: "I agree with the President's decision to release oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to help replenish supply shortages resulting from Hurricane Katrina. Nearly all oil and natural gas production in the Gulf of Mexico has been shut down, and releasing this oil will help increase production and stabilize prices. However, I do believe that this tragedy makes it very clear that that the reserve should only be used in the event of an emergency, and that we shouldn't be tapping the reserve to provide a small, short-term decrease in gas prices.
Catastrophic events like Hurricane Katrina are the reason the Strategic Petroleum Reserve was created, and releasing oil at this time is appropriate. But to truly provide Americans relief from skyrocketing oil prices, we must get serious about decreasing America's dangerous dependence on foreign oil by increasing fuel efficiency and investing more in the renewable fuels that can lead us down the path to energy independence."
"Obama Statement on the President's Decision to Release Oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve," Barack Obama's official candidate website, Aug. 31, 2005
[Editor's Note: ProCon.org emailed the Obama campaign on Mar. 11, 2008 and called them on Mar. 18, 2008 to acquire a Pro or Con position on this question. We had not received a reply as of Mar. 21, 2008.]
Now Not Clearly Pro or Con: "My interest is in making sure we've got the kind of comprehensive energy policy that can bring down gas prices...
If, in order to get that passed, we have to compromise in terms of a careful, well thought-out drilling strategy that was carefully circumscribed to avoid significant environmental damage - I don't want to be so rigid that we can't get something done...
I think it's important for the American people to understand we're not going to drill our way out of this problem...
It's also important to recognize if you start drilling now you won't see a drop of oil for ten years, which means its not going to have a significant impact on short-term prices. Every expert agrees on that...
The Republicans and the oil companies have been really beating the drums on drilling...And so we don't want gridlock. We want to get something done."
"Obama Would Consider Off-shore Drilling as Part of Comprehensive Energy Plan," PalmBeachPost.com, Aug. 1, 2008
[Editor's Note: Prior to Barack Obama's Aug. 1, 2008 Not Clearly Pro or Con position above, his position was Con as indicated in his June 20, 2008 statement below.]
Con: "But what wouldn't do a thing to lower gas prices is John McCain's new proposal, a proposal adopted by George Bush as well, to open up Florida's coastline to offshore drilling.
In what's become a bit of a regular occurrence in this campaign, Senator McCain once had a different position on offshore drilling. And it's clear why he did. It would have long-term consequences for our coastlines, but no short-term benefits, since it would take at least 10 years to get any oil...
In fact, President Bush's own Energy Department says that we won't see a drop of oil from his own proposal until 2017. And, in fact, you wouldn't see any full production out of any oil drilling off the coast until 2030. It will take a generation to reach full production. And even then, the effect of gas prices will be minimal, at best...
Believe me, if I thought there was any evidence at all that drilling could save people money who are struggling to fill up their gas tanks by this summer or this year, or even the next few years, I would consider it, but it won't."
Excerpt from an Obama news conference in Jacksonville, FL, YouTube video, June 20, 2008
Not Clearly Pro or Con: "Nuclear power represents more than 70 percent of our noncarbon generated electricity. It is unlikely that we can meet our aggressive climate goals if weeliminate nuclear power from the table. However, there is no future for expanded nuclearwithout first addressing four key issues: public right-to-know, security of nuclear fuel andwaste, waste storage, and proliferation."
"Barack Obama's Plan to Make America a Global Energy Leader," Barack Obama's official candidate website, Sep. 23, 2008
Pro: "The economic development opportunities for advanced cellulosic ethanol technologies hold potential to revitalize rural communities across the country. Barack Obama and Joe Biden believe we must ensure that local investment continues to play a significant role as the biofuels industry continues to expand and evolve. They will create a number of incentives for local communities to invest in their biofuels refineries, including expanding federal tax credit programs and providing technical advice to rural communities that are in a strong position to open their own refineries. They will also provide an additional subsidy per gallon of ethanol produced from new facilities that have a minimum of 25 percent local capital, and he will provide additional loan guarantees for advanced ethanol facilities with local investment."
"Real Leadership for Rural America," Barack Obama's official candidate website (accessed Sep. 23, 2008)
Pro: "Barack Obama will take seriously the US's leadership role in combating climate change. Obama will signal to the world the US commitment to climate change leadership by implementing an aggressive domestic cap-and-trade program coupled with increased investments in clean energy development and deployment. Obama will build on our domestic commitments by creating a negotiating process that involves a smaller number of countries than the nearly 200 countries in the current Kyoto system. Obama will create a Global Energy Forum -- based on the G8+5, which included all G-8 members plus Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa -- of the world's largest emitters to focus exclusively on global energy and environmental issues.
Maintaining a standing international body focused on these issues will give a forum for all of the major emitters -- past, present and future -- to discuss efforts to combat climate change."
"Meeting Energy Needs," Barack Obama's official candidate website (accessed Nov. 20, 2007)
Pro: "The Fuel Economy Reform Act of 2006 [co-introduced by Barack Obama] seeks to break the decades-long logjam on increasing fuel economy standards by taking a new, more flexible approach. The bill charges the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) to create regular annual increases in fuel economy with a target of 1 mile per gallon each year. The experts at NHTSA will base these standards on attributes of a vehicle such as size and weight, and will be able to revise the annual increase if they conclude that the target cannot be reached with current technology or without compromising the safety of the entire fleet, or is not cost-effective when compared to the economic and geopolitical value of a gallon of gasoline saved.
This legislation flips the current debate about increasing fuel economy standards on its head, from a debate about whether standards will be raised to [a] presumption that they will be raised."
"Senators Introduce Legislation to Reduce Gasoline Consumption by Half a Trillion Gallons," Barack Obama's US Senate website, July 19, 2006
Pro: "Global warming is real, is happening now and is the result of human activities. The number of Category 4 and 5 hurricanes has almost doubled in the last 30 years. Glaciers are melting faster; the polar ice caps are shrinking; trees are blooming earlier; oceans are becoming more acidic, threatening marine life; people are dying in heat waves; species are migrating, and eventually many will become extinct."
"Barack Obama's Plan to Make America a Global Energy Leader," Barack Obama's official candidate website (accessed Mar. 13, 2008)
Pro: "Because I think we have two conflicting traditions in this country. I think it's important for us to recognize that we've got a tradition of handgun ownership and gun ownership generally. And a lot of people - law-abiding citizens use if for hunting, for sportsmanship, and for protecting their families. We also have a violence on the streets that is the result of illegal handgun usage. And so I think there is nothing wrong with a community saying we are going to take those illegal handguns off the streets, we are going to trace more effectively, how these guns are ending up on the streets, to unscrupulous gun dealers, who often times are selling to straw purchasers. And cracking down on the various loopholes that exist in terms of background checks for children, the mentally ill. Those are all approaches that I think the average gun owner would actually support. The problem is, that we've got a position, often times by the NRA that says any regulation whatsoever is the camel's nose under the tent. And that, I think, is not where the American people are at. We can have reasonable, thoughtful gun control measure that I think respect the Second Amendment and people's traditions."
Pro: "...I also believe that every American has the right to affordable health care. I believe that the millions of Americans who can't take their children to a doctor when they get sick have that right....
My plan begins by covering every American.
If you already have health insurance, the only thing that will change for you under this plan is the amount of money you will spend on premiums. That will be less...
If you are one of the 45 million Americans who don't have health insurance, you will have it after this plan becomes law...
If you cannot afford this insurance, you will receive a subsidy to pay for it...
To help pay for this, we will ask all but the smallest businesses who don't make a meaningful contribution today to the health coverage of their employees to do so by supporting this new plan. And we will allow the temporary Bush tax cut for the wealthiest Americans to expire."
"Cutting Costs and Covering America: A 21st Century Health Care System," Barack Obama's official candidate website, May 29, 2007
Pro: "A truly meaningful prescription drug program should provide a benefit that seniors can understand and count on, and reduce the cost of these drugs. To help lower the cost of prescription drugs, Senator Obama has supported efforts to allow American seniors to purchase prescription drugs in Canada and bring them back to the U.S. He also has supported giving Medicare the ability to negotiate lower drug prices."
"Seniors: Prescription Drugs," Barack Obama's official candidate website (accessed June 4, 2008)
Not Clearly Pro or Con: "The food industry overall could do substantially more to limit [children's] exposure to foods with minimal nutritional value. Obama believes that guidelines for advertising and marketing of foods and beverages must be finalized, and the industry should be encouraged to implement these guidelines on a voluntary basis. If voluntary adoption is not effective, Obama believes that these guidelines should be made mandatory and that the Federal Trade Commission should have the authority and the resources to monitor and enforce compliance."
"What the Candidates Had to Say," washingtonpost.com, May 18, 2008
Not Clearly Pro or Con: "To keep from having to go through this difficult process again in the future, we must also replace the flow of undocumented immigrants coming to work here with a new flow of guestworkers. Illegal immigration is bad for illegal immigrants and bad for the workers against whom they compete. Replacing the flood of illegals with a regulated stream of legal immigrants who enter the United States after background checks and who are provided labor rights would enhance our security, raise wages, and improve working conditions for all Americans."
"Floor Statement of Senator Barack Obama on Immigration Reform," Barack Obama's US Senate website, Apr. 3, 2006
Pro: "When I was a state senator in Illinois, I voted to require that illegal aliens get trained, get a license, get insurance to protect public safety. That was my intention...
The problem we have here is not driver's licenses. Undocumented workers do not come here to drive... They're here to work. And so instead of being distracting by what has now become a wedge issue, let's focus on actually solving the problem that this administration, the Bush administration, had done nothing about it."
Democratic Debate, hosted by CNN, Las Vegas, NV, Nov. 15, 2007
Pro: "Well, this is an area where Senator Clinton and I almost entirely agree. I think that the key is to consult with local communities, whether it's on the commercial interests or the environmental stakes of creating any kind of barrier...
As Senator Clinton indicated, there may be areas where it makes sense to have some fencing. But for the most part, having border patrolled, surveillance, deploying effective technology, that's going to be the better approach."
[Editor's Note: Senator Obama also voted in favor of the "Secure Fence Act of 2006" (H.R.6061) on Sep. 29, 2006 which allowed for the following:
"SEC. 3. CONSTRUCTION OF FENCING AND SECURITY IMPROVEMENTS IN BORDER AREA FROM PACIFIC OCEAN TO GULF OF MEXICO...
(1) SECURITY FEATURES.-
(A) REINFORCED FENCING.-In carrying out subsection (a), the Secretary of Homeland Security shall provide for least 2 layers of reinforced fencing, the installation of additional physical barriers, roads, lighting, cameras, and sensors..."]
"The Problem: Iran has sought nuclear weapons, supports militias inside Iraq and terror across the region, and its leaders threaten Israel and deny the Holocaust. But Obama believes that we have not exhausted our non-military options in confronting this threat; in many ways, we have yet to try them. That's why Obama stood up to the Bush administration's warnings of war, just like he stood up to the war in Iraq.
Opposed Bush-Cheney Saber Rattling: Obama opposed the Kyl-Lieberman amendment, which says we should use our military presence in Iraq to counter the threat from Iran. Obama believes that it was reckless for Congress to give George Bush any justification to extend the Iraq War or to attack Iran. Obama also introduced a resolution in the Senate declaring that no act of Congress â€” including Kyl-Lieberman â€” gives the Bush administration authorization to attack Iran.
Diplomacy: Obama is the only major candidate who supports tough, direct presidential diplomacy with Iran without preconditions. Now is the time to pressure Iran directly to change their troubling behavior. Obama would offer the Iranian regime a choice. If Iran abandons its nuclear program and support for terrorism, we will offer incentives like membership in the World Trade Organization, economic investments, and a move toward normal diplomatic relations. If Iran continues its troubling behavior, we will step up our economic pressure and political isolation. Seeking this kind of comprehensive settlement with Iran is our best way to make progress."
"Foreign Policy," Barack Obama's official candidate website (accessed July 29, 2008)
[Editor's Note: Prior to Barack Obama's July 29, 2008 Con position, his position was Not Clearly Pro or Con as indicated in his Nov. 1, 2007 statement in a New York Times article titled "Interview With Barack Obama" below.]
Not Clearly Pro or Con: "Q. If you were to open such a discussion with Iran, would you retain a military option for striking Iran's nuclear facilities if they persisted on that course, or do you believe that it would be wiser to craft a deterrent and detainment strategy for Iran and acquiesce their nuclear capability?
A. I don't think the President of the United States takes military options off the table, but I think that we obviously have to measure costs and benefits in all the decisions that we make. Iran is one problem. Pakistan is another problem. Afghanistan is another. Iraq is yet another. My decision making, with respect to military options versus diplomatic options, a containment strategy versus a strike strategy, is going to be informed by how is that going to impact not just Iran, but how is that going to impact the stability of the region and how's that going to impact our long-term security interests."
"Interview With Barack Obama," New York Times, Nov. 1, 2007
Pro: "...[W]e are also going to have to, I believe, engage in tough direct diplomacy with Iran and this is a major difference I have with Senator McCain, this notion by not talking to people we are punishing them has not worked. It has not worked in Iran, it has not worked in North Korea. In each instance, our efforts of isolation have actually accelerated their efforts to get nuclear weapons. That will change when I'm president of the United States."
Excerpt from the presidential debate held at the University of Mississippi in Oxford, MS, Sep. 26, 2008
Con: "Perhaps the saddest irony of the Administration's cynical use of 9/11 is that the Iraq War has left us less safe than we were before 9/11. Osama bin Ladin and his top lieutenants have rebuilt a new base in Pakistan where they freely train recruits, plot new attacks, and disseminate propaganda. The Taliban is resurgent in Afghanistan. Iran has emerged as the greatest strategic challenge to America in the Middle East in a generation. Violent extremism has increased. Terrorism has increased. All of that is a cost of this war."
"Remarks of Senator Barack Obama: Turning the Page in Iraq," Barack Obama's official candidate website, Sep. 12, 2007
Pro: "The first part of this strategy [in Iraq] begins by exerting the greatest leverage we have on the Iraqi government - a phased redeployment of US troops from Iraq on a timetable that would begin in four to six months.
When I first advocated steps along these lines over a year ago, I had hoped that this phased redeployment could begin by the end of 2006. Such a timetable may now need to begin in 2007, but begin it must. For only through this phased redeployment can we send a clear message to the Iraqi factions that the US is not going to hold together this country indefinitely - that it will be up to them to form a viable government that can effectively run and secure Iraq."
"A Way Forward in Iraq," Barack Obama's official candidate website, Nov. 20, 2006
Pro: "Support Foreign Assistance to Israel: Barack Obama has consistently supported foreign assistance to Israel. He defends and supports the annual foreign aid package that involves both military and economic assistance to Israel and has advocated increased foreign aid budgets to ensure that these funding priorities are met. He has called for continuing US cooperation with Israel in the development of missile defense systems."
Not Clearly Pro or Con: "The Israeli people, and Prime Minister Olmert, have made clear that they are more than willing to negotiate an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that will result in two states living side by side in peace and security. But the Israelis must trust that they have a true Palestinian partner for peace. That is why we must strengthen the hands of Palestinian moderates who seek peace and that is why we must maintain the isolation of Hamas and other extremists who are committed to Israel's destruction."
"Obama on US Policy in the Middle East," Council on Foreign Relations website, Mar. 2, 2007
Pro: "Obama will make progress on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict a key diplomatic priority. He will make a sustained push - working with Israelis and Palestinians - to achieve the goal of two states, a Jewish state in Israel and a Palestinian state, living side by side in peace and security."
Not Clearly Pro or Con: "Today's announcement of independence by the leadership of Kosovo ends a chain of events that began with the bloody break-up of the former Yugoslavia. Kosovo's independence is a unique situation resulting from the irreparable rupture Slobodan Milosevic's actions caused; it is in no way a precedent for anyone else in the region or around the world.
Kosovo's independence carries with it important responsibilities. The international community has devoted enormous resources to Kosovo's political, economic and social development for nearly a decade, with results not always meeting expectations. I hope that Kosovo's government and people act with urgency to ensure that Kosovo becomes a positive example of democratic governance and the rule of law."
"Statement by Barack Obama on the Independence of Kosovo," Barack Obama's official candidate website, Feb. 17, 2008
Con: "Today, we take up the valuable time of the US Senate with a proposed amendment to our Constitution [the Federal Marriage Amendemnt] that has absolutely no chance of passing...
Now, I realize that for some Americans, this is an important issue. And I should say that personally, I do believe that marriage is between a man and a woman...
I agree with most Americans, with Democrats and Republicans, with Vice President Cheney, with over 2,000 religious leaders of all different beliefs, that decisions about marriage, as they always have, should be left to the states."
"Floor Statement of Senator Barack Obama on the Federal Marriage Amendment," Barack Obama's US Senate website, June 5, 2006
Not Clearly Pro or Con: "[Katie] Couric: Should infidelity qualify someone, or should infidel...
[Katie] Couric: ...infidelity disqualify someone?
Obama: You know...I'm very cautious about applying strict moral rules to...or a blanket universal rule to...people. Because, you know, I mean, there are some people who might say that the fact that, you know, I indulged in drugs when I was young, disqualifies me. I mean, there are a lot of ways that you can apply that kind of morality. What I'm always hopeful of is that people...judge our public servants based on their passion, their commitment, their public integrity, how they operate with that public trust. And, you know, if we start getting too sanctimonious about some of these issues then there aren't going to be that many people who are able or willing to serve."
"Candidates Offer Views on Infidelity," CBS Evening News with Katie Couric, Dec. 19, 2007
Not Clearly Pro or Con: Cosponsored S. 2035, the "Free Flow of Information Act of 2007":
"Prohibits a federal entity (an entity or employee of the judicial or executive branch or an administrative agency) from compelling a covered person to testify or produce any document relating to protected information unless a court makes specified determinations by a preponderance of the evidence, including that all reasonable alternative sources have been exhausted, that the testimony or document sought is essential, and that nondisclosure would be contrary to the public interest, taking into account both the public interest in compelling disclosure and the public interest in gathering news and maintaining the free flow of information.
Defines 'covered person' as a person engaged in journalism, including their supervisor, employer, parent, subsidiary, or affiliate. Excludes from the definition foreign powers and their agents and certain terrorist organizations and individuals.
Defines 'protected information' as information or records a covered person obtained as part of engaging in journalism on a promise of confidentiality.
Requires the content of compelled testimony or documents to be limited and narrowly tailored."
"S. 2035: Free Flow of Information Act of 2007," GovTrack.us, Sep. 10, 2007
Now Pro: "When it comes to medical marijuana, I have more of a practical view than anything else. My attitude is that if it's an issue of doctors prescribing medical marijuana as a treatment for glaucoma or as a cancer treatment, I think that should be appropriate because there really is no difference between that and a doctor prescribing morphine or anything else. I think there are legitimate concerns in not wanting to allow people to grow their own or start setting up mom and pop shops because at that point it becomes fairly difficult to regulate.
I'm not familiar with all the details of the initiative that was passed [in Oregon] and what safeguards there were in place, but I think the basic concept that using medical marijuana in the same way, with the same controls as other drugs prescribed by doctors, I think that's entirely appropriate.
I would not punish doctors if it's prescribed in a way that is appropriate. That may require some changes in federal law. I will tell you that...the likelihood of that being real high on my list is not likely. What I'm not going to be doing is using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws on this issue simply because I want folks to be investigating violent crimes and potential terrorism. We've got a lot of things for our law enforcement officers to deal with."
Interview with Editorial Page Editor Gary Nelson, Mail Tribune, Mar. 22, 2008
[Editor's Note: Prior to Barack Obama's Mar. 22, 2008 Pro position, his position was Not Clearly Pro or Con as indicated in his Nov. 24, 2007 statement at a town hall meeting below.]
Not Clearly Pro or Con: "My attitude is, if the science and the doctors suggest that the best palliative care and the best way to relieve pain and suffering is through medical marijuana then that's something I'm open to, because there's no difference between that and morphine when it comes to just giving people relief from pain. But I want to do it under strict guidelines. I want to make sure that it is prescribed in the same way that other painkillers or palliative drugs would be prescribed. I'm concerned about folks just kind of growing their own and saying it's for medicinal purposes, because that's kind of a slippery slope."
Con: "[Anderson] Cooper: Senator Obama, should women register for Selective Service?
[Barack] Obama: ...I think that if women are registered for service -- not necessarily in combat roles, and I don't agree with the draft -- I think it will help to send a message to my two daughters that they've got obligations to this great country as well as boys do."
CNN/YouTube Democratic Presidential Debate, Charleston, SC, July 23, 2007
Pro: "It's time to turn the page on the bitterness and bigotry that fill so much of today's LGBT [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender] rights debate. The rights of all Americans should be protected -- whether it's at work or anyplace else. 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' needs to be repealed because patriotism and a sense of duty should be the key tests for military service, not sexual orientation."
"Obama Statement on Pride Month," Press Release, Barack Obama's official campaign website, June 1, 2007
Not Clearly Pro or Con: "I think that the obligation to serve exists for everybody, and that's why I've put forward a national service program that is tied to my tuition credit for students who want to go to college. You get $4000 every year to help you go to college.
In return, you have to engage in some form of national service. Military service has to be an option.
We have to have civilian options as well. Not just the Peace Corps, but one of the things that we need desperately are people who are in our foreign service who are speaking foreign languages can be more effective in a lot of the work that's going to be require that may not be hand-to-hand combat but is going to be just as critical in ensuring our long-term safety and security."
Democratic Presidential Debate, Las Vegas, NV, Jan 15, 2008
Not Clearly Pro or Con: "As a nation, we have to find the right balance between privacy and security, between executive authority to face threats and uncontrolled power...We have to find a way to give the President the power he needs to protect us, while making sure he doesn't abuse that power. It is possible to do that. We have done it before, we could do it again."
"Senator Barack Obama Floor Statement General Michael Hayden Nomination," Barack Obama's US Senate website, May 25, 2006
Pro: "Barack Obama believes that we should do more to promote partnerships between government and faith-based and other nonprofit community groups to provide services to the needy and underserved...
Barack Obama will establish a new President's Council for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships within the White House. The Council will work to engage faith-based organizations and help them abide by the principles that federal funds cannot be used to proselytize, that they should not discriminate in providing their services, and they should be held to the same standards of accountability as other federal grant recipients."
"Partnering with Communities of Faith," Barack Obama's official candidate website (accessed Oct. 23, 2008)
Not Clearly Pro or Con: "...[D]oing the Lord's work is a thread that's run through our politics since the very beginning. And it puts the lie to the notion that the separation of church and state in America means faith should have no role in public life. Imagine Lincoln's Second Inaugural without its reference to 'the judgments of the Lord.' Or King's 'I Have a Dream' speech without its reference to 'all of God's children.' Or President Kennedy's Inaugural without the words, 'here on Earth, God's work must truly be our own.' At each of these junctures, by summoning a higher truth and embracing a universal faith, our leaders inspired ordinary people to achieve extraordinary things."
"A Politics of Conscience," Speech on Barack Obama's official candidate website, June 23, 2007
Pro: "In recent years, Washington has failed to give NASA a robust, balanced and adequately funded mission. Though the good people of NASA who work day in and day out on new frontiers are doing amazing things, Americans are no longer inspired as they once were. That's a failure of leadership.
I believe we need to revitalize NASA's mission to maintain America's leadership, and recommit our nation to the space program, and as President I intend to do just that. We must revive the American ingenuity that led millions of children look to NASA astronauts and scientists as role models and enter the fields of math, engineering and science. Our leadership in the world depends on it."
"NASA's 50th Anniversary: Statement from Sen. Obama," Barack Obama's official candidate website, July 29, 2008
Not Clearly Pro or Con: "I'm a Christian, and I believe in parents being able to provide children with religious instruction without interference from the state. But I also believe our schools are there to teach worldly knowledge and science. I believe in evolution, and I believe there's a difference between science and faith. That doesn't make faith any less important than science. It just means they're two different things. And I think it's a mistake to try to cloud the teaching of science with theories that frankly don't hold up to scientific inquiry."
"Obama Talks to York," York Daily Record, Mar. 30, 2008
Con: "...[W]e should be willing to do anything that will strengthen the system to make sure that we are being true to the sake of trust of those who are already retired as well as young people in the future.
And we should reject things that will weaken the system, including privatization, which essentially is going to put people's retirement at the whim of the stock market."
Pro: "And I'm proud to be a cosponsor of the stem cell bill before us today ["Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2005" (H.R. 810)]. This bill embodies the innovative thinking that we as a society demand and medical advancement requires. By expanding scientific access to embryonic stem cells which would be otherwise discarded, this bill will help our nation's scientists and researchers develop treatments and cures to help people who suffer from illnesses and injuries for which there are currently none. But the bill is not without limits; it requires that scientific research also be subject to rigorous oversight.
I realize there are moral and ethical issues surrounding this debate. But I also realize that we're not talking about harvesting cells that would've been used to create life and we're not talking about cloning humans. We're talking about using stem cells that would have otherwise been discarded and lost forever - and we're talking about using those stem cells to possibly save the lives of millions of Americans...
Americans are looking for that kind of leadership today. All over the country, patients and their families are waiting today for Congress and the President to open the door to the cures of tomorrow."
"Statement of Support for Stem Cell Research," Barack Obama's US Senate website, July 17, 2006
Con: "Those kinds of progressive tax steps, while closing loopholes and rolling back the Bush tax cuts to the top 1 percent, simply restores some fairness and a sense that we're all in this together, as opposed to each of us being in it on our own."
Pro: "[Barack] Obama: I will raise CEO [Chief Executive Officer] taxes. There is no doubt about it...If you are a CEO in this country, you will probably pay more taxes. They won't be prohibitively high. They're -- you're going to be paying roughly what you paid in the '90s, when CEOs were doing just fine...I will institute a middle-class tax cut. So, if you're making $75,000, if you're making $50,000 a year, you will see an extra $1,000 a year offsetting on your payroll tax.
[Wolf] Blitzer: Define middle class.
Obama: Well, look, I think that the definitions are always a little bit rough, but let's -- let's just take it this way. If you're making $100,000 a year or less, then you're pretty solidly middle class, and you deserve relief right now, as opposed to paying higher taxes. On the other hand, if you're making more than $100,000, and certainly if you're making more than $200,000 to $250,000, then you're doing pretty well."
Excerpt of an interview with Wolf Blitzer on CNN Late Edition, May 11, 2008
Con: "Prevent the War's Spread Beyond Iraq: To prevent spillover -- in particular, Turkish or Iranian adventurism -- the Obama plan would promote a regional compact that would ensure commitments by Iraq's neighbors to non-intervention and to Iraq's territorial integrity."
"Barack Obama: Turning the Page in Iraq," Barack Obama's official candidate website (accessed Mar. 13, 2008)
Con: "The secret authorization of brutal interrogations is an outrageous betrayal of our core values, and a grave danger to our security. We must do whatever it takes to track down and capture or kill terrorists, but torture is not a part of the answer - it is a fundamental part of the problem with this administration's approach. Torture is how you create enemies, not how you defeat them. Torture is how you get bad information, not good intelligence. Torture is how you set back America's standing in the world, not how you strengthen it. It's time to tell the world that America rejects torture without exception or equivocation. It's time to stop telling the American people one thing in public while doing something else in the shadows. No more secret authorization of methods like simulated drowning. When I am president America will once again be the country that stands up to these deplorable tactics. When I am president we won't work in secret to avoid honoring our laws and Constitution, we will be straight with the American people and true to our values."
"Obama: Torture and Secrecy Betray Core American Values," Press Release, Oct. 4, 2007
Pro: "Now, what we need to do is we need to close Guantanamo. We need to restore habeas corpus. We need to send a strong signal that we are going to talk directly to not just our friends but also to our enemies."
Democratic Presidential Debate, hosted by National Public Radio, Des Moines, IA, Dec. 4, 2007
Now Not Clearly Pro or Con: "...[I]t's come time to reauthorize this law, we've been working in a bipartisan way to do both - to show the American people that we can track down terrorists without trampling on our civil liberties. To show the American people that the federal government will only issue warrants and execute searches because it needs to, not because it can. What we have been trying to achieve, under the leadership of a bipartisan group of Senators, is some accountability in this process - to get answers and see evidence where there is suspicion...
There have been proposals on both sides of Congress, from both parties, to extend the PATRIOT Act for three months so that we can reach agreement on this bill. I support those efforts..."
"Senate Floor Statement of Senator Barack Obama on The PATRIOT Act," Barack Obama's US Senate website, Dec. 15, 2005
[Editor's Note: Prior to Barack Obama's Dec. 15, 2005 Not Clearly Pro or Con position above, his position was Con as indicated by his Sep. 10, 2003 statement below.]
Con: "I would vote to repeal the US Patriot Act, although I would consider replacing that shoddy and dangerous law with a new, carefully crafted proposal that addressed in a much more limited fashion the legitimate needs of law enforcement in combating terrorism."
"Illinois NOW Questionnaire for Senator Barack Obama," www.abcnews.com, Sep. 10, 2003
Con: "Given the legitimate threats we face, providing effective intelligence collection tools with appropriate safeguards is too important to delay. So I support the compromise, but do so with a firm pledge that as president, I will carefully monitor the program.
[The bill] does, however, grant retroactive immunity, and I will work in the Senate to remove this provision so that we can seek full accountability for past offenses.""
Statement issued regarding Barack Obama's Yes vote on H.R.6304 the "FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) Amendments Act of 2008" as reported on cbsnews.com in a June 21, 2008 article titled "Obama: I'll Fight To Strip Telecom Immunity From FISA":
Religion: Member of United Church of Christ for 20+ years
US Senator (D-Illinois), 2005-present
Member, Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee
Member, Foreign Relations Committee
Member, Veterans' Affairs Committee
Member, Environment and Public Works Committee, 2005-2006
Member, Illinois State Senate, 1997-2004
JD, Harvard University, 1991
BA, Columbia University, 1983
Affiliations and Memberships:
Attorney, Miner, Barnhill & Galland, 1993-2004
Former Teacher, Constitutional Law
Community Organizer, Chicago, 1985
Missed 303 votes (46%) during the current (110th) Congress and missed 314 of 1,299 votes (24%) since Jan. 6, 2005 (as of Oct. 9, 2008)
Barack Obama attended Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, the United Church of Christ's largest congregation. At a May 31, 2008 Press Conference in Aberdeen, SD, Obama announced that he and his wife were "withdrawing as members of Trinity" because of "offensive statements" by church leadership including Rev. Jeremiah Wright.
Barack Obama in His Own Words, Ed. Lisa Rogak, 2007
The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream, 2006
"One Nation... Under God?," Sojourners Magazine, Nov. 1, 2006
"US Must Encourage Biofuel Revolution," Chicago Sun Times, May 1, 2006
"The Political Movement in Black America," Ebony, Nov. 1, 2005
"Veterans Should Be Priority," Chicago Sun Times, Aug. 8, 2005
Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, 1995