Obama's reversals of his predecessor's policies are a sign that the new administration is trying to make good on its campaign promise of change. Just Monday, Obama wrote in a memo to heads of executive branch departments and agencies that he will sign presidential statements, but do so more sparingly than Bush, who came under fire for using hundreds of these statements to tell government officials to ignore parts of the law that it believed were unconstitutional restrictions on the president's executive power, most notably on national security issues. "I will issue signing statements to address constitutional concerns only when it is appropriate to do so as a means of discharging my constitutional responsibilities," he wrote.
Labor and International Laws
Only ten days in office, Obama signed three executive orders that he said would "level the playing field" for labor unions and that would make unions easy to organize. Obama reversed a Bush order requiring federal contractors to post notice that workers can limit financial support of unions serving as their only bargaining representatives. Additionally, in undoing Bush's policies, Obama ordered that federal contractors offer jobs to current workers when contracts change and that federal contractors be prevented from being reimbursed for expenses meant to influence workers deciding whether to form a union and engage in collective bargaining. Obama's first law signed was also labor-related. The Equal Pay for Equal Work Bill was signed into law Jan. 29 and sought to end pay disparities between men and women.
Restrictions on Cuba
The president relaxed travel, commerce and mail restrictions on Cuba, allowing American-Cuban families unlimited visits to the island and no restrictions on the amount of remittances they can send back. The White House also plans to expand telecommunications networks that link the United States and Cuba, as well as export of humanitarian items. President Bush tightened restrictions on Cuba in 2004, which been under U.S. embargo since 1962. Leaders of Latin American countries are pushing the Obama administration to do away with the sanctions altogether. For his part, Obama has said he wants to open a dialogue with Cuba, but outlined a series of steps he first wants the government to take, including the release of prisoners. "I know there is a longer journey that must be traveled in overcoming decades of mistrust, but there are critical steps we can take toward a new day," the president said while attending the Summit of the Americas in April.
ABC News' Kate Barrett, Lindsey Ellerson, Karen Travers and Nitya Venkataraman contributed to this report