Measuring the Obama legacy

President Obama speaks on the telephone in the Oval Office in 2009. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

Much of President Trump’s campaign for the nation’s highest office was based upon undoing the policies and programs that had been enacted by President Barack Obama. The domestic legacy left by President Obama can be divided into four major policy areas — economic, debt and deficit reduction, immigration and healthcare.

In the wake of the financial crisis of 2007-08, Obama was faced with a market hemorrhaging jobs, with the unemployment rate reaching double digits in mid 2009. By the beginning of Obama’s second term, economic growth had picked up and unemployment continued to fall, reaching 4.8% in the last month of his presidency. While some of the spending Obama used to try and stimulate the economy increased the deficit early on, by the end of his presidency, the deficit had shrunk dramatically.

With Congress’ recent failure to institute a new healthcare policy meaning that Obama’s  Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) will stay the law of the land, perhaps the most enduring legacy of the Obama years will center around healthcare policy. Since Obama assumed office, as a result of the law, despite rising costs, the uninsured rate in the United States has dropped from 16.2% to 8.8%.

Where President Obama and President Trump may have overlapped most in policy is, in contrary to political rhetoric, immigration policy. While Trump’s claims to “build a wall” were far more dramatic than any Obama administration statements on immigration policy, the administration deported more immigrants than any other in American history.

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