By Haddon Libby
With the transition of power from Barack Obama to Donald Trump, there is a mix of euphoria and catatonic astonishment amongst Americans. As we close out the eight year presidency of Barack Obama, let’s review some of his greatest accomplishments and failures.
While many dislike it, he passed the Affordable Care Act which helped nearly 40 million uninsured Americans to get insurance while allowing people with Pre-Existing Conditions to secure insurance that actually covers these conditions. While the bill had major flaws, there is no discounting its value to so many.
In another controversial accomplishment, he passed the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 that helped save the U.S. economy from an even deeper recession.
In yet another controversial accomplishment, he passed the Dodd-Frank Consumer Protection Act. In hindsight, this Act served to reduce the number of community banks in the United States while making it harder for everyone to get a loan.
Ended the war in Iraq, although the premature withdrawal created an environment that incubated ISIS.
Killed Osama bin Laden.
Ended Qaddafi’s reign in Libya.
Helped save the U.S. auto industry.
Made it possible for openly gay and lesbian people to serve in the military.
Commuted the jail sentences of 1,200 drug offenders to reverse “outdated” prison sentences.
Dropped the military veteran homeless rate by 50%
Began the normalization of relations with Cuba.
Nominated the first Hispanic, Sonia Sotomayor, to the Supreme Court.
Expanded embryonic stem cell research for spinal injuries and cancer research.
His biggest failure which helped create the Trump victory were rules and regulations on business that expedited the export of blue collar jobs to other countries. His policies favored big, multinational firms at the expense of small to mid-sized businesses and their workers.
Wealth concentration amongst the top 10% of all Americans increased from 71.5% to 76% of all wealth in the United States during his term. Meanwhile, the bottom HALF of Americans saw their net worth fall from 3% to 1%. That’s right, more than 165 million Americans have no net worth. That is bad.
New jobs after the Great Recession did not offer the pay or benefits of pre-Recession jobs.
His biggest failure might be the inability to convince Americans that the country is on the right track. Instead, most Americans concluded that both Democrats and Republicans are not looking out for them.
Did not solve the immigration problem.
When the Arab Spring arose, Obama did little to capitalize on the region’s unrest thus opening a window for Iran and Russia to take greater roles in the region.
Did not keep the NSA from spying on Americans illegally.
Besides these failures, during his campaigns for President, he made some popular campaign promises that were never fulfilled. Here are a few of the most upsetting:
Failed to punish those responsible for the Great Recession.
Failed to allow for the import of lower cost prescription drugs.
Did not allow Medicare to negotiate cheaper drug prices.
Did not end income tax for seniors earning less than $50,000.
Did not end no-bid government contracts when spending more than $25,000.
Did not close the Guantanamo Bay Detention Center.
Only time will tell us whether Obama was a good, bad, or mediocre President. While there is no question that the GOP made his job more difficult, the failure to protect the majority of American workers from globalization while maintaining a nearly open border left many Americans distrustful of his intents as well as those of most inside the Washington DC beltway. As a result, we now have President Donald Trump, a GOP Congress and Senate. The Democrats have only themselves to blame for their inability to understand the struggles of the majority Americans.
Haddon Libby is an Investment Advisor and Managing Partner for Winslow Drake Investment Management and can be reached at 760.449.6349 or HLibby@WinslowDrake.com.