While most people have been consumed with the madness surrounding this year’s controversial election, counting down the days until it’s finally over, I’ve been praying that I’ll come across a way to slow down time. The way I think of it; the closer voting day gets, so does President Barack Obama’s last day in office.
Since day one, Obama has faced a ruthless amount of opposition and criticism, especially from the Republican party. There is no doubt that he has made his fair share of mistakes – as does any president. However, it is unfair to say that he has done no good for the United States. He has fought multiple incredibly tough battles and brought real progress to many areas of people’s lives. According to Rolling Stone, “Obama has emerged as one of the most consequential and, yes, successful presidents in American history,” a belief that many Americans share; and that isn’t just because he is the first president to finesse the “mic drop.” We do indeed have a lot to thank Obama for before he leaves office, and with that in mind, here are 8 of Obama’s many important accomplishments over the past 8 years.
1) Reforming Health Care
The Affordable Care act (ACA) was signed by President Obama on March 23, 2010; you may remember Vice-President Joe Biden whispering “This is a big f**king deal!” Well, he was right. The ACA, also known as “ObamaCare” was signed into law in order to reform the healthcare industry. Its goal was to give more Americans access to affordable (hence the name), and quality health insurance to reduce the growth in healthcare spending in the US. It works to expand affordability and availability of both private and public health insurance through consumer protections, regulations, taxes and insurance exchanges. It also offers a number of benefits, rights and protections, such as letting young adults stay on their parents’ plan until 26, preventing gender discrimination, stopping insurance companies from denying coverage or charging more based on preexistent health issues, and much more. Though Obama admits there is a lot to be improved upon, over 18 million more Americans have health care than before the act, in addition to the country’s uninsured rate reducing by about 7% by 2015. The truth about Obamacare: Obama really does care.
2) Ending the 2008 Recession
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was Obama’s initial economic stimulus package. The $787 billion plan was passed in February 2009 and eventually led to the end of the 2008 financial crisis and recession. Its goal was to aid the economy by urging consumer spending and saving up to as many as 2.3 million jobs. Whereas Former President’s Bush’s plan, TARP benefited large corporations, Obama’s plan worked to put money into small businesses and families. It cut taxes, extended unemployment benefits and funded public works projects, resulting the GDP growth turning positive in the span of only six months. In a similar amount of time, it poured $241.9 billion into the economy, inducing 2010 growth to 3.9%. Considering the fact that Obama inherited a country that couldn’t go further down economically and that he had to deal with Bush’s tax cuts for 2 years as well as two wars after that- it was a job well done.
3) The Elimination of Bin Laden
On May 1, 2011, US Navy seals, following Obama’s orders, eliminated Osama bin Laden, founder of Al Qaeda and prime suspect for the 9/11 attacks, by infiltrating the Al Qaeda leader’s compound in Pakistan.
4) Holding Wall Street Accountable
The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform, often known as the “Dodd-Frank” was signed in 2010, as another response to the 2008 financial crisis. It placed major regulations in order to prevent the detriment of important financial institutions like that of the Lehman Brothers. Some restrictions include prohibiting banks from owning, investing, or sponsoring hedge funds, private equity funds, or any proprietary trading operations for their own profit, as well as having the power to “break up” certain institutions if they are “too big to fail.”It also works to secure consumers from issues such as abusive lending and mortgage practices from banks, by implementing specific rules.
5) The Legalization of Same-Sex Marriage
Same-sex marriage was legalized on June 26th, 2015 with a Supreme Court 5-4 decision stating that couples, no matter their gender or sexual orientation, have a constitutional right to marry, bringing gay rights advocates their biggest victory yet. Obama, being the first sitting U.S president to openly support gay marriage, responded by saying that “Love won.” Declaring that “No matter who you are, here in America, you’re free to marry the person you love because the freedom to marry is now the law in all 50 states.” He reminded Americans of what he conveyed in his second inaugural address, that “If we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well. It is gratifying to see that principle enshrined into law by this decision.” Since the legalization, the percentage of cohabiting same-sex couples married has been raised from 38% to 49%.
6) Repealing the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Act
The highly discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” act, which worked to ban gays, lesbians, and bisexuals to serve openly in the U.S Armed Forces, was successfully repealed under the Obama administration on September 20th, 2011. Obama shared that he was proud to sign the repeal of the law as it “would strengthen our national security and uphold the ideals that our fighting men and women risk their lives to defend”, as well make sure that “tens of thousands of Americans in uniform will not be asked to live a lie.”
7) Fixing US-Cuba Relations
Relations between the U.S and Cuba have been tense since former President Eisenhower broke off diplomatic relations with the Caribbean country in 1961, after an unsuccessful attempt to overthrow the government, specifically the prime minister, Fidel Castro, by backing Cuban exiles. However, on August 14th, 2015, the U.S reopened their embassy in Havana, acting as an important step towards normalizing relations between the two nations. “We turned the page on an outdated, half-century-old policy by re-establishing diplomatic relations with Cuba….Allowing us to build greater ties between Americans and Cubans.” Mr. Obama said.
8) Being awesome!
From making Vice-President Joe Biden a friendship bracelet on Buzzfeed, to guest starring in “Between the Two Ferns” with Zach Galifianakis, there’s no doubt that Obama is a cool guy. Over the past years, he’s had no trouble getting laughs at his comical speeches at White House Correspondents Dinners. He’s danced on Ellen, been on SNL, and most recently, thrown shade at haters’ tweets on Jimmy Kimmel. Though some of you many not agree with his policies, you can’t deny that he seems like someone you could grab a bubble tea with- or better yet, a friend you could tag in Facebook memes.
So what does the SAS community think of his legacy? On the eve of the election of Obama’s successor, I’ll let members speak for themselves: