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davidtrump

Wall Street reform and the Environment

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Wall Street reform

Risky practices among the major financial institutions on Wall Street were widely seen as contributing to the subprime mortgage crisis, the financial crisis of 2007–08, and the subsequent Great Recession, so Obama made Wall Street reform a priority in his first term. On July 21, 2010, Obama signed the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, the largest financial regulatory overhaul since the New Deal. The act increased regulation and reporting requirements on derivatives (particularly credit default swaps), and took steps to limit systemic risks to the US economy with policies such as higher capital requirements, the creation of the Orderly Liquidation Authority to help wind down large, failing financial institutions, and the creation of the Financial Stability Oversight Council to monitor systemic risks. Dodd-Frank also established the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which was charged with protecting consumers against abusive financial practices. On signing the bill, Obama stated that the bill would "empower consumers and investors," "bring the shadowy deals that caused the crisis to the light of day," and "put a stop to taxpayer bailouts once and for all." Some liberals were disappointed that the law did not break up the country's largest banks or reinstate the Glass-Steagall Act, while many conservatives criticized the bill as a government overreach that could make the country less competitive. Under the bill, the Federal Reserve and other regulatory agencies were required to propose and implement several new regulatory rules, and battles over these rules continued throughout Obama's presidency. Obama called for further Wall Street reform after the passage of Dodd-Frank, saying that banks should have a smaller role in the economy and less incentive to make risky trades. Obama also signed the Credit CARD Act of 2009, which created new rules for credit card companies.

Climate change and the environment

During his presidency, Obama described global warming as the greatest long-term threat facing the world. Obama took several steps to combat global warming, but was unable to pass a major bill addressing the issue, in part because many Republicans and some Democrats questioned whether global warming is occurring and whether human activity contributes to it. Following his inauguration, Obama asked that Congress pass a bill to put a cap on domestic carbon emissions. After the House passed the American Clean Energy and Security Act in 2009, Obama sought to convince the Senate to pass the bill as well. The legislation would have required the US to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent by 2020 and by 83 percent by the middle of the 21st century. However, the bill was strongly opposed by Republicans and neither it nor a separate proposed bipartisan compromise ever came up for a vote in the Senate. In 2013, Obama announced that he would bypass Congress by ordering the EPA to implement new carbon emissions limits. The Clean Power Plan, unveiled in 2015, seeks to reduce US greenhouse gas emissions by 26 to 28 percent by 2025. Obama also imposed regulations on soot, sulfur, and mercury that encouraged a transition away from coal as an energy source, but the falling price of wind, solar, and natural gas energy sources also contributed to coal's decline. Obama encouraged this successful transition away from coal in large part due to the fact that coal emits more carbon than other sources of power, including natural gas.

Obama's campaign to fight global warming found more success at the international level than in Congress. Obama attended the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference, which drafted the non-binding Copenhagen Accord as a successor to the Kyoto Protocol. The deal provided for the monitoring of carbon emissions among developing countries, but it did not include Obama's proposal to commit to cutting greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2050. In 2014, Obama reached an agreement with China in which China pledged to reach peak carbon emission levels by 2030, while the US pledged to cut its emissions by 26-28 percent compared to its 2005 levels. The deal provided momentum for a potential multilateral global warming agreement among the world's largest carbon emitters. Many Republicans criticized Obama's climate goals as a potential drain on the economy. At the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference, nearly every country in the world agreed to a landmark climate deal in which each nation committed lowering their greenhouse gas emissions. The Paris Agreement created a universal accounting system for emissions, required each country to monitor its emissions, and required each country to create a plan to reduce its emissions. Several climate negotiators noted that the US-China climate deal and the EPA's emission limits helped make the deal possible. In 2016, the international community agreed to the Kigali accord, an amendment to the Montreal Protocol which sought to reduce the use of HFCs, organic compounds that contribute to global warming.

From the beginning of his presidency, Obama took several actions to raise vehicle fuel efficiency in the United States. In 2009, Obama announced a plan to increase the Corporate Average Fuel Economy to 35 miles per gallon, a 40 percent increase from 2009 levels. Both environmentalists and auto industry officials largely welcomed the move, as the plan raised national emission standards but provided the single national efficiency standard that auto industry officials group had long desired. In 2012, Obama set even higher standards, mandating an average fuel efficiency of 54.5 mpg. Obama also signed the "cash-for-clunkers" bill, which provided incentives to consumers to trade in older, less fuel-efficient cars for more efficient cars. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 provided $54 billion in funds to encourage domestic renewable energy production, make federal buildings more energy-efficient, improve the electricity grid, repair public housing, and weatherize modest-income homes. Obama also promoted the use of plug-in electric vehicles, and 400,000 electric cars had been sold by the end of 2015.

According to a report by The American Lung Association, there was a “major improvement” in air quality under Obama.

 

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