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Our 44th President: Barak Obama (2009-2016)



Elected to office in 2008, Barak Obama was our nation's first African-American president.  As such, he faced continued opposition, including the accusation by a political rival that he was not a native-born American, and therefore not qualified to be president.


Opposition also came from Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell, who announced: "The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president."


On top of that, Obama inherited a number problems from the previous administration, the biggest of which was of an economic collapse that threatened to take down the nation's economy.  Even before taking office, Obama and George W. Bush were meeting to address the issue.


After taking office, Obama proposed an unprecedented federal spending bill to revive the economy.  This was the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).


After getting the ARRA bill passed in both houses of Congress, Obama then began pushing Congress for passage of his Affordable Care Act.  "My interest in healthcare was beyond policy or politics," explained Obama.  "It was personal.  While on the campaign trail I would meet parents struggling to come up with enough money to get treatment for a sick child . . . Most of all, I thought off my mom . . . Passing a healthcare bill wouldn't bring her back  . . . But it would save somebody's mom out there, someone down the line."


After getting the Affordable Care Act passed by Congress, the next crisis was the H1 N1 virus.  At the time there was no vaccine available to fight the virus. Obama urged his health care team to get out in front of virus and find a remedy.  Prior to formulating a vaccine, some 12,000 Americans lost their lives.


Another major achievement by the Obama administration was the successful negotiation of the Iran Nuclear Deal, that would place heavy restrictions on Iran's ability to develop nuclear weapons.  Also on the international front, Obama successfully negotiated the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with Russia (START), to decrease nuclear stockpiles.


One of the biggest disasters to face the Obama Administration was a giant oil spill off the Southern coast of the United States.  Caused by a rupture in an undersea oil well, it was an ecological disaster that seemed to defy a solution.  After several months and several attempts of cap the well had failed, an attempt to fit a second more durable cap finally would put a stop to the flow of oil.


In May 2009, Obama directed his administration to find Osama bin Landen, whose whereabouts had been a mystery since December 2001.  A day before the ninth anniversary of 9/11, they located where he was living, in a compound in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad.  A special ops mission was sent, and the terrorist leader was killed.  Eight months later, Obama formally declared the Iraq was over.


Among other crises facing Obama in his first term was the so-called "birther" issue raised by Donald Trump.  Writes Obama: "The Tea Party summer had migrated from the fringe of GOP politics to the center--an emotional almost visceral, reaction to my presidency, distinct from any difference in policy or ideology.  It was as if my presence in the White House had triggered a deep-rooted panic, a sense that the natural order had been disrupted.  Which is exactly what Donald Trump understood when he started peddling the assertion that I had not been born in the United States and was thus an illegitimate president. . . . "


At first, Obama paid no attention.  But Trump wouldn't let go. On the Today TV show Trump claimed he'd sent investigators to Hawaii to look into Obama's birth certificate.  "I have people that have been studying it, and they cannot believe what they're finding."


As a result, Obama sent an aid to Hawaii to obtain a copy of his birth certificate, the proof of which silenced Trump.


After being reelected to a second term, Obama signed the Taxpayer Relief Act, thus raising taxes on the top tax bracket back to where they were before President George W. Bush took office.


Because both houses of Congress were now under control of the opposition party, Obama addressed issues via executive orders. The first was an executive to order to increase the minimum wage for federal contract workers.  Another was the Fair Pay and Safe Workplace executive order.  He also signed an executive order to allow immigrants already living within the U.S. border to legally stay here.  Obama also vetoed a bill that would have permitted construction of the Keystone pipeline.  Among other issues, Obama restored diplomatic relations with Cuba.  In his last year in office, the Obama administration lifted sanctions on Iran.


The threat of widespread unemployment due to the financial meltdown, diminished in the wake of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, to the point where unemployment leveled off at around the normal five per-sent level.  Despite claims by the opposition party, that the Democrats were giving money to the very institutions that were the source of the problem, it turned out a good portion of the money was not a giveaway, but rather an investment, that returned a whopping return of 11.6 per cent interest ($71.7 billion).  Also, the national debt did not continue to grow, as it had under George W, Bush's watch. Indeed, when Obama took office, the national debt was $1.4 trillion.  Eight years later when he left office, the nations debt had been reduced to $0.5 trillion.


According to the latest rankings of presidential greatness, Barak Obama ranks 11th, between James Madison and James Monroe.


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