-A "health care for hybrids" bill (previously blogged upon here)
-An Energy Security Bill
-Various bills on relief for Hurricane Katrina, including aid for kids and a ban on no-bid contracts by FEMA
-A public database of all federal spending and contracts
-Trying to raise CAFE standards
-Veterans' health care
-Making certain kinds of voter intimidation illegal
-A lobbying reform bill (with Tom Coburn), which would do all sorts of good things, notably including one of my perennial favorites, requiring that bills be made available to members of Congress at least 72 hours before they have to vote on them.
-A proposal to revamp ethics oversight, replacing the present ethics Committee with a bipartisan commission of retired judges and members of Congress, and allowing any citizen to report ethics violations. This would have fixed one of the huge problems with the present system, namely: that the members have to police themselves.
-Introducing legislation to make it illegal for tax preparers to sell personal information.
-Legislation on chemical plant security.
-Legislation on lead paint.
Hilzoy identifies several themes latent in how Obama approaches legislation:
I do follow legislation, at least on some issues, and I have been surprised by how often Senator Obama turns up, sponsoring or co-sponsoring really good legislation on some topic that isn't wildly sexy, but does matter. His bills tend to have the following features: they are good and thoughtful bills that try to solve real problems; they are in general not terribly flashy; and they tend to focus on achieving solutions acceptable to all concerned, not by compromising on principle, but by genuinely trying to craft a solution that everyone can get behind.
His legislation is often proposed with Republican co-sponsorship, which brings me to another point: he is bipartisan in a good way. According to me, bad bipartisanship is the kind practiced by Joe Lieberman. Bad bipartisans are so eager to establish credentials for moderation and reasonableness that they go out of their way to criticize their (supposed) ideological allies and praise their (supposed) opponents. They also compromise on principle, and when their opponents don't reciprocate, they compromise some more, until over time their positions become indistinguishable from those on the other side.
This isn't what Obama does. Obama tries to find people, both Democrats and Republicans, who actually care about a particular issue enough to try to get the policy right, and then he works with them. This does not involve compromising on principle. It does, however, involve preferring getting legislation passed to having a spectacular battle. (This is especially true when one is in the minority party, especially in this Senate: the chances that Obama's bills will actually become law increase dramatically when he has Republican co-sponsors.)
So my little data point is: while Obama has not proposed his Cosmic Plan for World Peace, he has proposed a lot of interesting legislation on important but undercovered topics. I can't remember another freshman Senator who so routinely pops up when I'm doing research on some non-sexy but important topic, and pops up because he has proposed something genuinely good. Since I think that American politics doesn't do nearly enough to reward people who take a patient, craftsmanlike attitude towards legislation, caring as much about fixing the parts that no one will notice until they go wrong as about the flashy parts, I wanted to say this.
Hilzoy's post is chock full of links that I don't provide, so I recommend the whole thing. I'm with Hilzoy, the wonk in me loves seeing a high-profile figure work so hard at getting legislation passed on issues that are important even if they don't hit the news waves. That shows he cares more about the good of the country than the good of his next press release. That's what I want in leader. That's what I want, dare I say, in a President.