Turn on CNN, Fox News or MSNBC and there will be umpteen talking heads and pundits shouting about how much of a failed and weak president Barack Obama has been. But only a select few actually point out any of the great accomplishments that will be part of our president’s legacy. I believe that President Obama has done a great deal of good for our country. I have to admit that I wish he had been stronger in his goals, but he has delivered on enough promises to the American people. There are five key sections that the president has done a lot of great work in: climate regulation, energy reform, global public relations, the financial sector and health care.
My first point, and the one that I believe President Obama will be most remembered for (other than maybe health care), is his fight against climate change. The president has faced great opposition from the right against regulations dealing with climate change. Many Republicans think it is a useless topic, citing that China would never be on board, and some remain who still dispute its existence. But even with all of this opposition, the president was able to get many key regulations implemented, such as his directive for the federal government to reduce its direct greenhouse gas emissions by 28 percent by 2020. His largest and most recent accomplishment in his climate change fight is the deal he struck with President Xi Jinping of China, where for the first time, China has agreed to set a date for when carbon emissions would finally begin to turn downward: 2030. The agreement also states that China will implement another 800 to 1,000 gigawatts of zero-emission energy, like solar, wind and nuclear. This is a great step for President Obama, as he has forced China to do what it has refused to do for many years.
The president’s fight against climate change has also included changing the energy makeup of the U.S. Just in the last year alone a quarter of all new power generation facilities in the U.S. were solar. Since Obama has taken office back in 2008, solar energy use is 10 times greater and wind energy use is up threefold. These new industries have created highly trained and skilled jobs in the U.S. and will continue to do so as we change our energy makeup. These new job sectors are critical for the future of American jobs and education.
The president has made major strides to keep the U.S. relevant in global relations. President Obama has reached out to many Asian countries like Japan and South Korea to reaffirm ties and also create new ones. These deals are very important to the future of the U.S. economy, since the 21 economies that comprise the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) group make up about 60 percent of the global economy. This is an incredibly large influence on global trade, and is an economic group that the U.S. cannot afford to miss out on. Another surprising country replying to President Obama is Iran, a country that has been notoriously opposed to the U.S. This icy relationship has been in place since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, where the United States-backed government fell.
The core issue that has always been a part of Obama’s presidency is the economy. When the president came into office, he inherited terrible economic conditions, with GDP falling 5.4 percent in the first quarter of 2009, and unemployment beginning its climb to 10 percent. Obama took great measures to ensure that the recession did not become a depression through enacting plans such as the stimulus package of 2009. Through these efforts, the economy has been able to recover, and many sectors are at pre-recession levels. After 2009, GDP has largely grown. In the beginning of President Obama’s first term in office, the jobs market was abysmal, with job losses exceeding 700,000 per month; since 2010, for more than 45 consecutive months, jobs have increased, yielding a net total gain of over 4.5 million U.S. jobs. These numbers are good, and should improve even more. The economy looks even better when compared to the European Union, where double-digit unemployment paints a bleak scene.
Finally we get to the most debated topic of President Obama’s terms in office: health care and the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Even with the shaky website launch, the ACA has been able to insure 10 million people who were uninsured. Over less than a year, the ACA has dropped the uninsured rate from 17.1 percent in 2013 to 13.4 percent, according to Gallup. The sharpest decline comes for Hispanics and African Americans, where it is needed most. This is a great accomplishment by the president, as many pundits thought that the ACA would not be able to accomplish anything meaningful for people and only have negative effects — both of which are untrue so far.
President Barack Obama has shown great skill in the roil of difficult times. He has proven himself to be smart and steady with his decision-making. As a lame duck president, he continues to work for the American people in an effort to advance us both economically and environmentally. This is the truth despite what the talking heads may say.