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OBAMA! A Look Back at the Last Eight Years
12/24/2016 Barack Obama Raymond Z
keywords: Presidential Term Legislation Progess

Some are cheering the end of the Barack Obama era while others are already nostalgic about it. What can't be questioned, however, is the dramatic difference of the state of the United States eight years ago and where we are today. The purpose here is not to place blame OR give credit. It's understood that some will never give President Obama any credit while others will give him all the credit. This is simply a broad strokes look at then...and now.

Do You Remember 2008?

The fact is the financial crisis of 2007-2008 was the most severe in the United States since the Great Depression of 1929. While some tried to minimize panic by referring it as a “recession”, ultimately it became to be known as the Great Recession. It should have been called what it was. The bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers in September of 2008 had every politician in Washington approached to pass bailouts for the banks. On September 18th, Treasury Secretary Paulson told the members of Congress that some $5.5 trillion could simply “disappear” by 2 pm of that day. According to Forbes Magazine, in a meeting between Senator Sherrod Brown, Secretary Paulson, and Ben Bernanke, the Federal Reserve Chairman is quoted as saying “we need $700 billion and we need it in 3 days.” It wasn't until 2011 we learned the bailout ultimately cost us  7.7 TRILLION anyway.

Steadying the Ship

Obama's first administration was first focused on steadying the economic ship. He was President when the CARS (cash for clunkers) rebate system helped both consumers and the struggling car companies. Automotive company bailouts/loans followed those of the banks. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, unemployment reached over 11%. TARP funds were created to fund municipal projects and ease unemployment. Reuters reported almost 3 million properties were foreclosed in 2009, with another 2.9 million in 2010. Suicides rates, especially those in the 45-64 age range, climbed.

The point is this. Love him or hate him, President Barack Obama inherited a country in a financial mess with financial stress. There should be no argument about that.

Obamacare - The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

Throughout this difficult period, the President and Congress were able to pass the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, positioned as “Obamacare” by the opposition. The President ultimately embraced the term. While there weren't many viable alternatives suggested by Republicans at the time, passage ultimately worked to their advantage. In the 2014 elections, they took control of the the House and the Senate. The last two years of the Obama Administration have been mainly paralyzed by grid lock.

Eight Years Later

Eight years after his initial inauguration, foreclosures are down and employment is up. The economic panic has subsided. It may be far from perfect, but at least there is SOME form of national healthcare. We haven't been initiating and escalating wars.  Again, the point isn't who to blame or who gets credit. It isn't even if we should or could be doing better. It is to take a step back from rooting for “teams” and recognize we were at a horrible place in 2008. It's better today, and to ignore that is to have a bit of amnesia of where we were. 

Where are we going with a new, unpredictable president? We survived the last eight years and we will likely survive the next four. Perhaps we can all learn from Ronald Reagan's line about the Russians when it comes to the new president. "Trust, but verify."

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