As the battle to determine Obama’s next competitor rages on, let’s take a few minutes to step back and look at Obama’s first term. For many students today, the 2008 elections was the first one they ever voted in or followed, and it’s hard to forget the initial excitement of Obama’s campaign for HOPE and CHANGE. Obama came to the plate with a lot of promises, but did he follow through on all of them?
Obama’s Major Failures
Under Obama, the United States’ national debt hit record highs, leading to the first ever downgrading of the US credit score as well as the recent debt ceiling crisis. Of course, there’s been a national debt since the US was born, but some of Obama’s less favorable policies have aggregated it. For example:
The Stimulus Plan
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), passed in 2009, was Obama’s attempt to jumpstart the economy after the economic downturn. The bill proposed almost $800 billion worth of spending to create jobs and restore confidence in the economy. However, the bill’s impact has been limited: unemployment rates are still hovering between eight and nine percent, the highest it has been since the 80s.
Expanding healthcare benefits, one of Obama’s top priorities, has been a costly process for both the government and taxpayers. But even still, Obama’s health care reform does not yet guarantee universal coverage, one of the president’s main campaign promises.
Another one of Obama’s major campaign promises, increasing energy efficiency and reliance on renewable energy sources across the US, has gone largely unfulfilled. The president also missed several opportunities to come through on this promise – the response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill was weak, and the non-binding agreement of the 2009 Copenhagen climate change conference for reducing CO2 emissions was even weaker.
Obama’s Major Accomplishments
Although Obamacare may not have been everything the president promised, the new laws do extend affordable healthcare coverage to over 30 million Americans. The legislation also extends benefits for young adults and makes it impossible for companies to deny a patient for pre-existing conditions. And the ARRA, while expensive, is in many ways an investment in the future for America, setting aside government money for education, loans, and transportation. Facing a serious financial crisis inherited from previous administrations, Obama was able to extend unemployment benefits to soften the blow.
Obama also took steps to address the corrupt systems that led to the economic collapse in the first place. This includes last year’s Dodd-Frank Act, which is a start towards overhaul of the regulations on the financial industry.
As if it needs to be said again: he found bin Laden! The president has also confirmed a full withdrawal from Iraq, a move that will save both American lives and American taxpayer money. The president also ordered the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, ending discrimination against gay and lesbian service members.
Another one of Obama’s major accomplishments is the recently ratified new START treaty, an arms reduction agreement between the United States and Russia. Overall, Obama has improved US relations with most foreign powers.
Will Obama get to serve another term? That depends on the American voting public. If this list is any indication, he may have competition. But Obama will still be a strong candidate for a second term.
Photo: at http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2008/11/the_next_president_of_the_unit.html