Later On

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Obama’s top 50 accomplishments as president

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Quite a list, compiled with a brief comment on each, by Paul Glastris and Nancy LeTourneau in the Washington Monthly. It begins:

In March 2012, we compiled a list of what were, at the time, President Barack Obama’s greatest achievements, to accompany our cover story, “The Incomplete Greatness of Barack Obama.” Today, at the end of his second term, Obama’s legacy is far more complete. Indeed, items from the original list—such as increasing national service opportunities, creating the Race to the Top education reform program, and expanding stem cell research—fell off in order to make room for new ones.

But his legacy is also under threat. Donald Trump and the new Republican-dominated Congress have pledged to undo much of what the president has achieved, including repealing the Affordable Care Act and reversing important executive actions on immigration and climate change. So it is with this caveat that we offer the following updated list of Obama’s top accomplishments.

1. Passed Health Care Reform

After five presidents over the course of a century failed to create universal health insurance, signed the Affordable Care Act in 2010. More than twenty million Americans have gained coverage since the passage of the law, which provides subsidies for Americans to buy coverage, expands Medicaid eligibility, and prohibits insurers from denying coverage to people with preexisting conditions. The uninsured rate has dropped from 16 percent in 2010 to 9 percent in 2015. The law also mandates free preventive care, allows young people to stay on their parents’ policies up to age twenty-six, and imposes a ban on annual and lifetime caps on benefits.

2. Rescued the Economy

Signed the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009 to spur economic growth amid the most severe downturn since the Great Depression. As of October 2016, the economy had added 15.5 million new jobs since early 2010 and set a record with seventy-three straight months of private-sector job growth. The unemployment rate, which hit a sustained peak of about 10 percent in 2009, has dropped to 4.6 percent as of November 2016.

3. Passed Wall Street Reform

Signed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act in 2010 to re-regulate the financial sector after its practices caused the Great Recession. The law tightens capital requirements on large banks and other financial institutions, allows the government to take them into receivership if they pose a threat to the economy, and limits their ability to trade with customers’ money for their own profit. Dodd-Frank also created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to crack down on abusive lending and financial services. By the end of fiscal year 2016, the CFPB had handled nearly one million consumer complaints and taken actions that resulted in $11.7 billion in relief for more than twenty-seven million consumers.

4. Negotiated a Deal to Block A Nuclear Iran

Led six nations in reaching an agreement with Iran that requires the country to end its nuclear weapons program and submit to a rigorous International Atomic Energy Agency inspections regime in exchange for lifting global sanctions. The deal—which resulted from first toughening sanctions against Iran—also blocked Iran’s pathways to building a bomb, slowing down the development time for a weapon from three months to one year if Iran were to break its commitments.

5. Secured U.S. Commitment to a Global Agreement on Climate Change

Provided key leadership to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which produced the
2015 Paris Agreement, a commitment by 197 nations to reduce global carbon emissions and limit the global rise in temperatures to below 2 degrees Celsius.

6. Eliminated Osama bin Laden

In 2011, ordered the Special Forces raid of the secret compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, in which the terrorist leader was killed and a trove of al-Qaeda documents was retained.

7. Ended U.S. Combat Missions in Iraq and Afghanistan

After an initial troop surge in Afghanistan, brought home 90 percent of the nearly 180,000 troops who were deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan when he took office, leaving only a small contingent of forces to assist the Iraqi and Afghani militaries against insurgents and the Taliban. The withdrawal from Iraq created the vacuum that ISIS has filled. But, recently, without redeploying ground troops, the U.S. has helped the Iraqi military in reversing ISIS’s gains.

8. Turned Around the U.S. Auto Industry

In 2009, injected $62 billion (on top of the $13.4 billion in loans from the George W. Bush administration) into ailing GM and Chrysler in return for equity stakes and agreements for massive restructuring. By December 2014, the car companies had repaid $70.4 billion of the funds, and the Center for Automotive Research estimated that 2.5 million jobs were saved.

9. Repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’’

Ended the 1990s-era restriction and formalized a new policy allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military for the first time.

10. Supported Federal Recognition of Same-Sex Marriages

Decided in 2011 that the federal government would no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act, which restricted federal marriage recognition to opposite-sex couples. In June 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down key portions of the law as unconstitutional, allowing married same-sex couples to finally receive federal protections like Social Security and veteran benefits.

11. Reversed Bush Torture Policies

Two days after taking office, signed an executive order banning the so-called “enhanced interrogation” techniques used by the CIA under President Bush and considered inhumane under the Geneva Conventions. Also released the secret Bush administration legal opinions supporting the use of these techniques.

12. . . .

Continue reading.

It will be interesting to read the list of Trump’s top 50 accomplishments, if he gets that far.

Written by LeisureGuy

24 July 2017 at 5:55 pm

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