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Obama made America better

Irv Randolph | 1/2/2017, 11:57 a.m.
As President-elect Donald Trump prepares to take office now is a good time to remember and appreciate the legacy left ...
President Barack Obama. -- White House photo

As President-elect Donald Trump prepares to take office now is a good time to remember and appreciate the legacy left by President Barack Obama.

First we must remember the dismal conditions that President Obama inherited from his predecessor President George W. Bush.

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Irv Randolph

When President Obama first took the oath of office in January 2009 the country and much of the world was in the midst of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.

CNN reported the following in February 2009: “Employers slashed another 598,000 jobs off U.S. payrolls in January, taking the unemployment rate up to 7.6 percent, according to the latest government reading on the nation’s battered labor market.”

Besides high unemployment the U.S. economy was reeling from the financial crisis of 2008 caused by failures in government regulation and heedless risk-taking by Wall Street. Many Americans had lost their homes through foreclosures or short sales during the housing crisis.

There is no question that the economy has significantly improved under Obama.

Under the president’s watch the federal deficit has been cut by two-thirds, and the unemployment rate has been reduced. He helped stimulate the auto industry after the financial crisis with government bailouts of Chrysler and GM. Since then the two giant automakers have created 250,000 jobs.

The U.S. unemployment rate dropped to 4.6 % in November, its lowest level in nine years. The U.S. has added more than 15 million jobs since the labor market bottomed out in early 2010.

“The labor market is in better shape than at any point in the recovery,” said Jed Kolko, chief economist at the job site Indeed.

In addition to turning around the economy, the President moved closer toward the goal of national health insurance in the United States with his signature Affordable Act, also known as Obamacare. When he came into office, 44 million Americans were without health insurance. Under the Affordable Care Act, 20 million more Americans now have health insurance.

The Affordable Care Act has benefitted millions of Americans in several ways including: Allowing young adults to stay on a parent’s insurance until age 26; providing financial help for low- and moderate-income people to pay their insurance premiums; a state option to expand Medicaid to cover more low-income adults and barring insurance companies from denying coverage because of a person’s medical history.

In foreign policy-- when the president came into office the country was in the midst of two wars. The president authorized the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden, the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attack. He reversed over 60 years of tension between the United States and Cuba by restoring diplomatic ties and reached an agreement with Iran to prevent it from developing nuclear weapons.

In addition to these accomplishments, the nation’s first African American president brought a needed sense of hope and positive change to America.

The president and first lady Michelle Obama have handled themselves with grace and dignity despite cruel personal attacks against them.

Obama was not able to able to make significant impact toward some of the country’s greatest challenges such as income inequality and reducing gun violence.

But what the president did manage to accomplish has not gone unnoticed.

In his last days of office, his overall approval rating was at the highest it’s been in four years. Fifty-six percent of Americans approved of the overall job Obama was doing as president – the highest since December 2012, shortly after his reelection.

Considering the many challenges he faced when he came into office and the fierce opposition against him by the Republican majority-led Congress during most of his two terms in office, Obama pressed forward with calm determination. The country is stronger and more prosperous than when he took office. President Obama made America better.

Irv Randolph is the editor and publisher of South Jersey Journal. You can follow him on Twitter @IrvRandolph.