The Obama era is coming to an end, President Elect Trump will be sworn in the office in a few short weeks. Nearly half of Americans look forward with anticipation and hope to his inauguration and his turn at the wheel.
It is a tradition however to look back before closing a chapter. President Obama is considered one of the least popular presidents in the U.S. history, right now. What is President Obama’s legacy?
President Obama is being blamed for his policies, decisions and actions whether they were right, wrong or beyond his control, as if no one noticed that the unpopular today President has in fact… saved America.
A few examples of things the President is scrutinized for:
- his economic policies
- his internal policies
- his international policies
- his policies on climate change
- and – of course! – Obamacare
When President Obama took over the White House, he inherited many liabilities. To name just a few: a growing recession, high unemployment rate (7.8%) and the costly war in Iraq. These inherited liabilities were a growing threat to the Country as he was taking the oath of the office, way before he was able to make – leave alone, implement – any decisions.
Bottom line, President Obama took over a sinking ship – we’ve come dangerously close to sinking! – and not only restored it back onto an even keel but corrected some of the crisis’ causes AND moved us as a nation forward.
President Obama stopped American economy from collapsing
- Confronted with the greatest recession since the Great Depression, President Obama signed the 2009 $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to stimulate hiring. His strategy was a success and produced desperately needed jobs.
- His HAMP and HARP programs helped save millions of American homes from foreclosure.
- He repeatedly extended unemployment benefits to protect the jobless until they find employment.
- To prevent future predatory lending, President Obama created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
- To make sure that Wall Street doesn’t continue its questionable business and trading practices, he enforced stricter regulations of the financial industry.
- President Obama bailed out the American automotive industry and he was right. The bailout helped turn the industry around and created over 100,000 jobs.
- By attracting private investment into the nation’s largest banks, he orchestrated a privately-funded bailout of the banking system.
- The Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure Act protects consumers from exploitation by credit card companies.
- To end wasteful spending, President Obama eliminated banks from the Federal Student Loan Program and expanded Pell Grant for students from low-income families.
President Obama worked with other nations to prevent global recession
He played an important role in securing over 500 billion dollars from the G-20 countries for the International Monetary Fund to ensure financial liquidity of emerging markets. The President’s participation helped prevent global recession.
President Obama ended the war in Iraq and improved national security
- He’s ended the war in Iraq.
- In a covert operation of U.S. Special Forces, the head of al-Qaeda, Osama bin Ladin, was executed.
- President Obama eliminated the use of interrogation techniques which violated the Geneva Conventions. (These techniques were approved for use and used by his predecessor’s administration.)
President Obama advanced civil rights
- Because of President Obama, members of the LGBT community can now openly serve in the American military. There is no “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” anymore.
- Obama expanded the definition of Hate Crimes in the Hate Crimes Prevention Act. The definition now includes – in addition to religion, color, race and national origin – also disability, gender and sexual orientation.
- To ensure that progressive values are represented in the U.S. Supreme Court, President Obama nominated Judges Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. Both were confirmed and are serving on the U.S. Supreme Court.
President Obama protected environment
- He laid the groundwork for closing old, coal-powered power plants that release the most carbon monoxide emissions. Once implemented, it will curb global warming and protect human health.
- Obama signed the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act which expanded areas eligible for protection including wilderness, rivers and historic as well as hiking trails.
- The President was responsible for the speedy reparations paid by British Petroleum to the victims of the Gulf Oil Spill.
- He invested more than any other U.S. President in research in the area of renewable energy from biofuels and cleaner coal to electric cars and other forms of efficient energy use and production.
President Obama created THE FIRST healthcare system for all Americans
His historic Health Care Reform is the first universal health insurance in the United States. It is intended to provide health security to all, including patients with preexisting conditions, adult children still living with their parents, etc. (As we all know by now, Obamacare is costly and imperfect. It can be modified, improved and made cost-effective. Its concept however is sound.)
President Obama has accomplished all of these and a lot more (the items listed above are merely a few highlights) while improving the image of America in the world.
The most recent act of our “unpopular” President? He’s working on making a permanent ban on offshore oil and gas drilling in areas of the Arctic and along the Eastern Seaboard a law.
With President Barack Obama at the helm, we’ve made significant progress in:
- Achieving economic balance at home
- Ensuring balance in the world economy
- Creating financial consumer protection
- Financial protection of students
- Advancement of civil rights
- Environmental protection
- Providing – FOR THE FIRST TIME IN AMERICAN HISTORY! – health insurance coverage for all
- (this is a very incomplete list of President Obama’s accomplishments. It doesn’t include also Michelle Obama’s advocacy for military families, children, education or healthy nutrition.)
We are reading plenty of criticism of the President, lately. I wonder why?
- Imagine the outcome of the last recession without Barack Obama in the Oval Office. We’d all be likely citizens of… China, today.
- Imagine the outcome of the unemployment crisis without Barack Obama as President. There’d be soup kitchens on street corners and millions of people lining up for a bowl.
- Imagine the outcome of the foreclosure crisis without Barack Obama as President. There’d be more homeless people than housed…
- Imagine the auto industry collapse without Barack Obama in the Oval Office. For the first time in history of the automobile, there’d be no American-made cars.
- Imagine the banking system collapse without Barack Obama in the Office. We’d experience another Great Depression!
- Imagine consumers’ exploitation by the mortgage industry without Obama’s intervention. We all know that not all homes were foreclosed on for their owners’ fault. Many were cheated out of their homes. President Obama closed the “free-for-all” flood gates.
- Imagine civil rights without Barack Obama. Tolerance is the mark of a civilized society. Thanks to President Obama civil rights in the United States have been expanded to include special protections for the disabled as well as for members of the LGBT community.
- Imagine environmental protection without Barack Obama. Actually, you don’t have to imagine: you’ll see it soon after the President Elect takes office. Start saving for oxygen masks for yourself and your loved ones: that’s what the Chinese use to survive.
- Imagine sick people in need of medical care without Obamacare……
It seems that nearly half of the population either didn’t realize the seriousness of the crisis Obama took on and didn’t consider the potential case scenarios we would have faced if it wasn’t for President Obama….
Anyone with some basic understanding of politics can appreciate the fact that even the President’s powers have limits and are set in context. Barack Obama is a democratically elected President of a Country that is a part of the international community, not a king or a dictator in the only country on Earth. His decisions were moderated by many factors. In some cases they reflected his personal values, but in most they were the best compromises available. He didn’t support senseless violence, didn’t gamble American lives to settle personal grievances, respected human rights, managed relationships with lenders the U.S. is beholden to the best way possible. He tried to do the most good for the greatest number and succeeded.
The results frustrated many. Those most frustrated chose to believe that presidential power has no limits and that electing a Republican political novice will make all their dreams come true. The most disappointed segment of population voted for – and elected – Donald Trump. Bad news: there is no job (even in the government of the United States!) and no person with an absolute or super power. Your dreams won’t come true under the incoming President, either.
It’s quite simple really, there is a moment every month when you have a “choice” to pay your mortgage / rent or take the money for your mortgage / rent payment and blow it on something you really want or need. Why don’t you follow your heart? Because the “choice” to pay for housing or blow the money foolishly isn’t really a choice. The same applies to the decisions a president gets to make: damn if he does and damn if he doesn’t. Of course, we are all “dumb” to be paying for housing as opposed to a dream vacation and we know it. So, why do we?….
To me personally – my opinion may not reflect the opinion of Anything L.A. Magazine – Barack Obama is a Hero, in more ways than one. The job of a President is to consider the welfare of all citizens and to ensure safe future of the Country. Barack Obama has done an extra-ordinary job and we were blessed to have him as a President especially at a time of a major crisis. He’s done right by our Country and by fellow Americans. He cares about our economy, safety, health, education, finances, civil rights, environment and the progressive direction of the United States. He – and his family – brought honor and grace to the White House, again. He restored America’s authority and image internationally.
President Obama’s legacy is a testament to his wisdom, courage and foresight. He may not have gotten everything right. We may not “love” the final outcome. But there is no denying that the unpopular President Obama saved America. We owe him a debt of gratitude. Time and history will do him justice.
Anything L.A. Magazine’s Editor, E. Elrich