Hope and Change? Done and Done

Hope and Change? Done and Done

Adrienne BoettingerTuesday,2 February 2016

We’re gonna let you in on a really well-kept secret. You have to promise not to tell anyone. Okay, here it is… President Barack Obama has accomplished a lot. In fact, he has been a pretty damn effective President.

Some of you are already having apoplectic fits because you think President Obama is the worst President in the history of all time. Except when we ask for specifics on why Obama is so terrible you just yell “He’s ruining the country!” So let’s take a closer look at the actual things Obama has done and see if we can find where the real disconnect is.

1. Economy

Gross generalization: Better shape than before he was elected.

Some details: $800 billion stimulus has proven far more successful than Europe’s attempts to fix fiscal crises by austerity. 69 straight months of private-sector job growth, deficit shrunk by nearly $1 trillion, unemployment rate at 5%, and Medicare’s long-term solvency extended by 13 years. Credit card companies can’t impose hidden fees anymore. $800 tax cut for most workers.

And yet: Wage growth is pitiful. Plus, we still don’t know how to retrain or reequip people whose jobs have gone the way of the VCR.

2. Health care

Gross generalization: Health care inflation and uninsured rate have fallen to lowest rates in 50 years.

Some details: 18 million previously uninsured now have coverage and people can’t be denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition.

And yet: Every 5 minutes Congress vows to repeal it and plenty of states refused Medicaid expansion meaning the poorest of their poor still have no coverage. And the rollout was a disaster.

3. Education

Gross generalization: Real work done to make college more affordable but way too many primary and secondary schools still failing.

Some details: Radical transformation of the trillion-dollar student loan industry, $36 billion expansion of Pell grants for lower income students, and cracked down on for-profit diploma factories. Healthier school lunches.

And yet: First graders have hours of homework and testing seems more important than actual learning.

4. Equality

Gross generalization: Significant steps made for LGBT rights, not as many gains elsewhere. Middle-aged white men seem terrified of and/or threatened by everything.

Some details: Same-sex couples now allowed to marry. Servicemen and women in armed forces can now be honest and open about their sexual orientation without fear of dismissal.

And yet: Women still earn less than men and racial bias pervasive in criminal justice system.

5. Diplomacy

Gross generalization: Multilateralism more than going it alone.

Some details: Openings with Cuba and Iran. Coalitions formed to deal with international threats.

And yet: Pooty-poot is far from besties with Obama and a lot of our coalitions seem fragile at best.

6. War and military conflict

Gross generalization: Drawing down.

Some details: Brought home the troops (at least much of them) from Iraq and Afghanistan.

And yet: What the hell are we going to do about the so-called Islamic State in Syria and elsewhere?

7. Environment

Gross generalization: Steps taken but seems like drop in the bucket.

Some details: Global climate agreement in Paris provided a framework to deal with enormous problems and set a goal set of global warming no more than 2 degrees above pre-industrial temperatures. In U.S., solar energy installations up 2,000% and carbon emissions dropped. Appliance and equipment standards on track to cut 3 billion tons of emissions by 2030.

And yet: Science is seen by far too many as a matter of opinion

Of course none of the above are unqualified successes and there are numerous critical issues where it’s difficult to find some sort of success or significant progress, like gun violence, immigration, bipartisan rancor and gridlock, and campaign finance reform. That’s the way things always are: two steps forward, two steps back. We can’t really evaluate the success or failure of Presidents until years after they’ve left office. But with a lot of people being better off now than they were 8 years ago, how can so many people have no doubt that This President is the worst there has ever been?

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Image Credit: Kelly Kline on Flickr

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