by Lukas Baumann
Barack Obama, the first black president, ushered a new era in America, so now that there is a successor who opposes most of his policies; let's look at what Obama has done in his presidency and at his biggest achievements.
Obama's most famous achievement is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare), which caused the percentage of people without insurance to drop from 16.0% in 2010 to 8.9% in 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). From the standpoint of a Democrat this is great, but Republicans argue that it caused the taxes to rise for the upper class by adding new taxes for the rich. However, medicine actually became more expensive over the years, according to Federal Health officials. The prescription drug spending increased by 12.6% in 2014 and is expected to rise by 7.3% a year through 2018. Everybody should be involved in this topic and research it more, since this is a huge topic, important for the generations to come.
Obama also pushed for a strict climate change agenda by being a major party in creating the Paris Climate Change according to it and also signing it. The Paris Agreement is an agreement that unites all the nations in the world to combat climate change. The deal wants to keep the average temperature `well below` an 2.0 Celsius increase of pre-industrial times and `endeavour to limit` average temperature increase to pre-industrial times. It also forces countries to be reviewed and gives them advice to maximise their efforts every 5 years. Also important is the `climate finance` part of the deal, which states that richer countries have to financially support poorer countries. This deal is the most comprehensive climate change deal ever signed, showing an enormous change in the way politicians deal with climate change.
Donald Trump promised to bring back jobs from China, but Obama has actually created a huge amount of jobs. He decreased the unemployment rate from 7.8% in January 2009 to 4.9% in June 2016. So, he created about 9 mio jobs. He did this with different stimuli and also with the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009. This act has cost around 831 bio dollars and will last until 2019, so we do not know the final effect of it, but since it is the biggest stimulus for the economy since the great depression, it is arguably responsible for this miraculous decrease of the unemployment rate .
Obama's foreign policy is very interesting, since he has created a free trade deal called TPP among 12 countries (biggest trade deal ever), the controversial Iran Nuclear deal and has opened the US towards Cuba after nearly 60 years of extremely strong sanctions. The Iran Nuclear deal is a deal between Iran and the permanent member of the UN Security Council (+Germany), which ensures that Iran cannot gain nuclear arms; however sanctions on Iran have to be lifted and foreign assets unfrozen. This deal caused Iran's Nuclear Program to be downsized in a very fast manner, because the amount of centrifuges was cut from 19,000 to 6,000 and it is still being reduced.
TPP is a free trade deal between 12 countries (the US, Japan, Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore,
Brunei, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Mexico, Chile and Peru), that covers 40% of the world's economy. This deal slashes tariffs and should boost trade between its members. He also let the debt spiral out of control, because of him enacting plans that need more money than the US can spend, like Obamacare, the stimulus package and tax cuts. He also was president during several recessions, like the real estate bubble or the great recession from 2007-8. However, to be fair to Obama the recessions and him having to invest huge amounts of money into the economy was made necessary, because of his predecessor, George W Bush, becoming involved in very expensive wars. The war on terror, e.g., will - according to Time - cost the American taxpayer 5 trillion and according to Forbes only 1.7 trillion.
On the other hand, Obama`s administration deported more people than any other president before by deporting 2.5 mio people during his presidency. Important to know is that 91% of these deportees in 2015 were convicted of a crime. Some people might find his stance on immigration fine or even great. He also continued the American involvement in Iraq and started airstrikes in Syria. Furthermore, his administration prosecutes whistleblowers like Chelsea Manning who is jailed for 35 years, because he leaked several videos about the US Military involvement in crisis around the world.
So in conclusion, Obama was able to decrease unemployment by 2.9%, implement strict environment acts (Paris agreement), provide healthcare to about 17 mio people, initiate the largest trade deal (TPP), cause a nuclear disarmament in an enemy country (Iran) without military action and open relations with an old foe of the US (Cuba). But he also let the US debt explode, allowed whistleblowers to be prosecuted and deported more people than any other president.
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