Barack Obama’s Greatest Achievements
Barack Obama’s Greatest Achievements – Love him or hate him, Barack Obama is destined for the history books as one of the most consequential U.S Presidents the country has ever seen. Even before his inauguration, Obama had made history by becoming the first African American President the U.S has had in its 200+ year history. In a country that is sharply divided along racial lines, Obama was able to clinch two terms. While facing stiff opposition from the Republicans who attempted to shoot down anything Obama proposed, the 44th President of the United States was able to make many transformative changes to the country and the government. He took the country through an economic recession, two wars, mass shootings and changing cultural dynamics and demographics.
The following are some of the biggest accomplishments that Obama made during his two terms as president. All of them are factual and have evidence backing them.
- He changed the culture of the executive branch and the Federal Government
Obama can be credited for radical actions that were aimed at improving efficiency in the Federal government while cutting down on waste. During the throes of an economic recession, the president signed an Executive Order that asked for an audit of government contracts while combating waste of taxpayers’ money1. He also created the post of Chief Performance Officer. The job of this officer was to make government operations more efficient in saving the government money2. He also froze White House salaries on his first day in office for the duration of the Great Recession3.
Other actions that Obama made to change the bureaucracy of government include:
- Banning gifts from lobbyists to anyone in the executive branch4
- Held the first online town hall from the White House 5 and streamed every White House event live6
- He gave the public better access to historic White House documents7 while also improving the Freedom of Information act8
- Like Trump, Obama signed an Executive order that required all federal agencies to review all federal regulations and to remove any unnecessary regulations9.
- The Obama Presidency was good for the Economy
When Bush was handing over the reins of government to Obama circa 2008, the economy was in terrible shape. The country was embroiled in two wars, and the atmosphere was grim. Nevertheless, Obama hunkered down and steered the ship back on track. By the end of the first year, the US economy had created and maintained 2.1 million jobs10, and his stimulus package (the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) had stimulated the economy by 3.5%11.
By 2010, the Obama presidency had created more jobs than had been created during the entire presidency of George W. Bush, his predecessor12. By December 2016, there had been a record 75 consecutive months of overall job growth13. It was during Obama’s Presidency that unemployment dropped below 5% in 8 years, and by the time he left office, the unemployment rate was at 4.9%14.
Specific economy improvements include:
- 16 million private sector jobs not related to farming were created from 2010 to 201615.
- Most of the new jobs created were full-time jobs16.
- A reduction of the budget deficit (Federal) from 9.8% of GDP in FY 2009 to 2.5% of GDP in FY 201517.
- It was during his presidency that new unemployment claims were at their lowest levels since November 1973 18,19.
- All federal contractors were ordered to pay a minimum wage of 10.10$ every hour. This move put pressure on large employers to increase their minimum wages. Such employers included Disney and Walmart20,21.
- He also ordered for the completion of the International Trade Data System. This system is designed to streamline and simplify the process of exporting goods by small and medium sized businesses22.
- Obama was the dose the Financial Sector needed
The financial sector was largely responsible for the Great Recession of 2008. When Obama was sworn in, he acted swiftly and aggressively against the financial sector loopholes that were being abused to wreak havoc and increase the number of people living under the poverty line. Some of the specific actions that Obama took in the days of the Great Recession and afterward include:
- Signing the Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act that empowered the government to investigate and prosecute fraud in any part of the financial sector23.
- He managed to push through the Dodd-Frank Act in Congress, which was one of the biggest overhauls of Wall Street seen in the country since the Great Depression24.
- He ordered that the executives who took bailout money would have to cut their pay until they had successfully paid back the money loaned to their companies by the government25.
- He clamped down on offshore tax avoidance schemes by supporting the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act of 200926. In the same vein, he was able to convince Swiss banks to give the US government access to bank records of criminals and tax evaders27.
- Obama was really against tax loopholes, for he signed the American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act. This led to the closure of many tricks and advantages that companies were using to shield their revenues from the ever-watchful eyes of the IRS28.
- Obama was the champion for small businesses and consumers
There were specific actions that the Obama Presidency took that showed how good Obama was for small businesses and consumers. For instance:
- Obama signed the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure (CARD) Act. This act protects consumers from unscrupulous credit card companies that may use unfair or deceptive practices to lure consumers into a mountain of debt that they can never escape without huge sacrifices29.
- He might have been enjoying hassle free flights on Air Force One, but Obama did not forget the plight of passengers dealing with cruel airlines. He created an airline passenger bill of rights, which prevented airlines from making passengers wait on the tarmac for hours30.
- When he was President, the Dow Jones Average was at 6000 Points. By the time his second term was ending, the Dow was close to breaching the 20000 mark31.
- The President developed a 15$ billion plan that was designed to increase the amount of funds available to small businesses32.
- Obama fought for net neutrality by establishing the Open Internet Order through the FCC. This would protect consumers and small businesses from having to compete for internet speed and real estate with established big boys with deep financial pockets33.
- His government enacted the best food safety legislation seen in the country since the Great Depression34.
- Obama’s administration fought against identity theft by improving the safeguards around consumer financial transactions35.
- He signed the RAISE Act, which provided suitable conditions for opening small businesses and improving the economy36.
- A strong Anti-Poverty President
At a time when a new Oxfam report shows that just eight individuals own as much wealth as 3.6 billion people, Obama was working to provide the lowest tax rates for average working families since 195037. He also provided a $20 billion increase for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (also known as food stamps)38. Other specific actions made to protect the poor and fight poverty include:
- Updating and modernizing overtime rules and regulations. This was under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)39.
- He spearheaded the implementation of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act. This act aims to improve nutrition in schools and make kids healthier40.
- It was during his presidency that the bottom 95% of taxpayers paid lower federal income taxes at any time in the last five decades41.
- The Hague Convention Agreement made it easier for the government to collect child support from parents, regardless of their location on the globe42.
- Ended the ‘Victory Tax’ that made life difficult for Olympic athletes43.
- The President was big on Civil Rights and Equality
Martin Luther King Jr. would have been proud of Obama’s Civil rights scoresheet. This is because the president made a lot of improvements to civil rights in America. Some of the specific accomplishments that the President was able to achieve include:
- Ordering a review of capital punishment policies after several botched executions44. The president was also interested in resolving the mass incarceration rate of petty offenders and people of color in the country. Only Franklin D. Roosevelt has beaten Obama’s record for executive clemency actions.
- He enhanced fair housing laws and gave the HUD and other agencies more power to enforce policies45.
- He led efforts to streamline the visa process and made it more responsive and humane to legal immigrants46.
- Obama worked with Congressional Democrats to sign the Civil Rights History Act47.
- Reviewed the practices of the Philadelphia Police Department and made 91 recommendations to prevent civil rights and excessive force violations48.
- Obama blocked an oil pipeline in South Dakota that would have interfered with sacred Sioux land49.
- He passed and signed the Sexual Assault Rights Act after working with Congressional Democrats50.
- Obama was a proud feminist
The father of two daughters and husband to a strong, accomplished woman, Obama was a proud feminist. During his two terms as President, he effectively campaigned and instituted many policies that attempted to put men and women on an equal footing. The following are some of the specific actions that the President made:
- Implementing the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. This act restored basic protections against pay discrimination for women and other workers51.
- He revoked the global gag rule, which prevented US-funded organizations from openly advocating for the reproductive rights of women52.
- He appointed the first female chair of the Federal Reserve, Janet Yellen on Feb.1,2014 53.
- His government increased the funding available for the Violence Against Women Act54.
- Obama transformed health care in the United States
President Obama did what many people before him had tried and failed. He managed to completely transform the health care sector by the passage of the Affordable Care Act, aptly dubbed ‘Obama Care.’ Before delving into the intricacies of this act, let us review some of the other major accomplishments that the President achieved in his eight years in office:
- He increased funding for biomedical and stem cell research55.
- He spearheaded the push for electronic medical records, from 9.4% of hospitals in 2009 to 96% in 201656.
- He signed the Christopher and Dana Reeve Paralysis Act that was geared to improving the lives of US citizens living with paralysis57.
- He oversaw a 50% reduction of prescription drugs for seniors58.
- Under the affordable care act, children could enjoy their parents’ cover till they turned 2659. The Act gave tax breaks to small businesses so that they could provide health insurance to their employees60. Millions of people were able to get insurance for the first time and also get help in paying for their premiums61.
- The ACA reduced the number of those uninsured by 22.3%. This % amounts to 10.3 million people who did not have insurance before62.
- Obama Changed the country’s approach to Defense and National Security
Obama was a different mold than most US presidents. He was not a military hawk and fervently believed that while the arc of the moral universe was long, it eventually bent towards justice. Under his watch, the US strategy for defense and National Security changed to be one of diplomacy and negotiation rather than using overt force. Some of the specific accomplishments that Obama was able to achieve during his presidency include:
- Coming up with a new strategy for dealing with international nuclear threats like North Korea63.
- He committed the country to no permanent military bases in Iraq64.
- He came up with a new strategy for working with Afghanistan and Pakistan to defeat Al Qaeda65.
- He pushed for the successful removal of Egyptian Dictator Mubarak66.
- He led the ‘Pivot to Asia’, diverting American’s interest from the Middle East to the Asian-Pacific region67.
- Presided over the operation to kill Osama Bin Laden68.
- He avoided involving the country in another drawn out war in Syria69.
- He imposed new sanctions on North Korea to prevent their progress in making intercontinental ballistic missiles70.
- Developed a strategy that inflicted massive casualties on the Islamic State without involving American soldiers directly or carpet bombing civillians71.
- He improved America’s Reputation in the World
Obama was good for America in the Foreign Affairs department. His diplomatic approach endeared him to many countries and boosted the image of the US while increasing its soft power.
Some of the specific actions Obama made that were good for the United States and the world include:
- Visiting more countries and meeting with more world leaders than any other president in his first six months in office72.
- He closed many secret detention centers73.
- He did not aid Israel in attacking Iran over its nuclear program74.
- He ended the Iraq war75.
- He negotiated a peaceful split of Sudan into two countries76.
- He thawed diplomatic relations with Cuba and allowed Cuban-Americans to visit their families and send money to them77. This hadn’t happened in more than 55 years.
- He negotiated a Nuclear deal with Iran that will prevent them from getting a nuclear weapon anytime soon. Using diplomacy, he was able to accomplish this without firing a single shot or shedding any blood78.
Barack Obama is clearly an exceptional man and was an even more exceptional president. He overcame tremendous odds in becoming the first black president. Not only was he elected once, but he also managed to trounce Mitt Romney and win two full terms as US President. His was a scandal-free presidency that ended with an approval rating above 60%, while Trump got into office with a 40% approval rating that tanked in the first few days in office.
The 44th President of the United States was a transformational President whose accomplishments in the Oval Office will be remembered by generations to come.
Note: Not all achievements have been listed here, which just goes to show you how busy the man was! No wonder his hair grayed so quickly!
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- http://bit.ly/e5b1iq http://1.usa.gov/fVNkt9
- http://n.pr/hY3Kwa http://nyti.ms/emQBde
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