On January 21, 2013, President Obama participated in his second and last inauguration ceremony. This was an historic moment because not only is he the first African American president, he was able to get re-elected, despite much discontent with how his first term had gone. President Obama’s first term, like life, had its highs and lows. Contrary to the belief of some, he did accomplish a few of the things on his agenda, some of his successes were:
He was able to pass health care reform, a major objective of His first term agenda, after the Supreme Court upheld its constitutionality.
His stimulus bill was passed. When he took office, he inherited an economy on the brink of collapse, arguably the worse economic recession since the great depression. The result of this stimulus being pass was the creation of almost 3.7 million private sector jobs.
Under President Obama, the war in Iraq came to an end. Many of us don’t remember a time before war and all our siblings who are younger than us haven’t had the chance to live in a country that’s not at war. Though the way war is waged has been changed and it may not appear to affect our lives directly, to all of those who have family or friends serving overseas, or those who have lost loved ones due to war are relieved that after almost a decade it’s finally over.
Toppled Gaddafi and eliminated Osama Bin Laden. No American lives were lost in toppling Gaddafi and the man hunt for Osama Bin Laden finally came to an end.
Kicked Banks Out of Federal Student Loan Program, Expanded Pell Grant Spending. This is a cause for college students everywhere to celebrate.
President Obama also had his failures:
He failed to pass immigration reform. During the campaign, his failure to pass a comprehensive immigration reform was addressed in numerous debates and interviews, especially those in South Florida aimed at the Hispanic voting bloc.
The United States credit rating was downgraded. Under President Obama, the United States credit rating was downgraded due to the inability to reach a debt ceiling compromise in a reasonable amount of time and without a lot of the un-necessary drama. Though this was not entirely his fault, congress was to blame in this as well, he was still held accountable because many feel that the buck stops at the president’s desk.
Though the economy improved, to many it didn’t improve enough. The cry of many was that the economy hasn’t recovered as much as it should have or was projected to in the past four years. The unemployment rate is still at a level that many Americans find to be unacceptable.
He wasn’t always able to get democrats and republicans to “reach across the aisle.” His first term was overshadowed by the fact that he had a stubborn congress that was not always willing to work together like civilized adults.
That being said, now that he’s been re-elected, many are asking, what’s next? Currently, President Obama and congress are working to pass a comprehensive immigration reform that both parties will find suitable and beneficial to their constituents, and society as a whole. President Obama while on the campaign also promised to repeal the Bush tax cuts on the wealthy. The wealthy are defined as those who make $250,000 and more as a couple or $200,000 individually. Before his inauguration, after much drama and anticipation, a compromise was reached with regards to the Bush tax cuts and he did manage to have his way, with the tax cuts expiring on the wealthy. This was a bi-partisan deal, however the Republican party was not thrilled with it as they felt it did not affectively deal with spending to entitlement programs in the manner that they felt they should. There is certain to be a debate about this as congress and the President prepare to deal with the debt ceiling, stop gap spending measures and other issues pertaining to government spending that have to be addressed in the upcoming months.
Some of his other promises include cutting foreign oil imports in half by 2020, end oil subsidies, end tax breaks for corporations that engage in outsourcing, clean air, and making college more affordable for all Americans.
Though President Obama has four more years in office, it is really only his first year that counts. How the first year goes, fortunately or unfortunately, will shape the legacy that his second term will leave. President Obama has an extensive agenda touching all areas of American life; his ideas are feasible but he can’t accomplish everything by himself. It’s not a dictatorship, he is going to need a willing congress. For all of those who have been asking, “what now” the answer will have to be, wait and see.
words_taylor duckett. illustration_think progress.org.