You’ll never hear it from a single Republican, but unlike his predecessor, President Obama’s accomplishments are many. Truthfully many of his goals did not come to full fruition; he probably set his goals too high. He did have one fault; his lack of understanding of the bitterness of politics displayed his naiveté. He also underestimated the anger of the racist part of America who opposed his every action purely because of hatred. Republicans resent his intelligence; they miss the eight years when the United States was governed by ‘Alfred E. Newman.’ His biggest mistake was the assumption that Congress wanted to work; to pass legislation which would heal a divided nation, and positively affect all Americans. He also made the mistake of believing that his own party would support his agenda. He was totally unaware of the cowardice which exists within the Democratic Party.
What has Mr. Obama accomplished? There is a long list, but let’s look at the major improvements of the last six years. Each of these items have been attacked by Republicans who vow to repeal or change them.
Mr. Obama saved the economy from becoming a depression. After inheriting an economy on the edge of complete collapse caused by the banking industry and the Bush Administration’s lack of oversight, as well as the cost of waging two unwinnable wars, only six years later our country is nearing normalcy. The stock market has reached record levels, and the unemployment rate is at its lowest since 2008.
Without the efforts of Mr. Obama, the United States would likely be without an auto industry, and unemployment may have risen to near 20 percent. He made it possible for home buyers to purchase affordable housing by lowering mortgage interest rates, and insuring loans.
The Executive Branch became fiscally responsible. On his first day he froze White House salaries, and within the first week ordered a review of all government contracts searching for wasteful spending.
Efforts were made to increase transparency in the White House, creating better government. Mr. Obama immediately restricted the access of lobbyists and disallowed anyone to work in a position for which they had previously lobbied. He eliminated ‘secretive’ White House meetings, insuring the rights of the American public to know what their president was doing. He also made improvements to the Freedom of Information Act.
Signed the Dodd-Frank legislation. By signing this bill, he placed restrictions on how Wall Street could do business. All banking executives who accepted bailout money were required to take a reduction in their own salaries until the funds were fully repaid to the American people.
Other regulations were passed forbidding the banking industry to use depositor’s money to invest in high-risk opportunities.
Rules were put in place to control oil speculators who created inflated prices in the past.
Mr. Obama took actions to strengthen civil rights and to fight discrimination. He helped create hate crimes prevention legislation. This added more severe penalties to a crime if it was proven that the commission of that crime was based on gender, or sexual orientation.
The President also signed the bill that removed ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ from the military. This allowed gay men and women to openly serve in our nation’s armed forces.
He renewed and improved our relations with nations around the world. Nations which had distanced or removed themselves from association with the United States for eight years, reengaged in the process of diplomatic relations.
Nearly 10 million Americans now have health insurance. Sure, the Affordable Care Act is far from perfect, and I do not believe it will be until it is universal, and is controlled by a ‘single payer.’ But it is a beginning. Although Republicans claimed that it would result in insurance companies raising rates, or going out of business; force the cancellation of thousands of insured; and bankrupt the federal government; none of this has happened. The system has flaws, but it is still in its infancy.
These are just a few of the more important achievements of the Obama Administration; and they’re undeniable, although I’m certain most Republicans will place their own ‘spin’ on the issues.
I have often been critical of Mr. Obama, but I must give him credit when credit is due; facts are facts.
Commentary by James Turnage