It’s almost Inauguration Day and the whole world is turning its attention to Washington as it gets ready to swear in the 45th president of the United States of America. As we welcome one president, we bid farewell another who has, in so many ways, revolutionized the traditional methods of leading the free world. President Obama has indeed redefined the audacity of hope and succeeded in maintaining a high level of compassion, integrity, and strong leadership throughout his eight years of presidency. Despite continuous scrutiny and severe criticism, he managed to preserve the stability of the United States in times of high controversy and national discord. Whether the new administration would sustain his achievements and build on them remains to be seen, but it is immensely important to revisit some of what this honorable president has been capable of accomplishing.
After five presidents over the course of a century failed to create universal health insurance, President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act in 2010. More than twenty million Americans have gained coverage since the passage of the law, which provides subsidies for Americans to buy coverage, expands Medicaid eligibility, and prohibits insurers from denying coverage to people with preexisting conditions. He also signed the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009 to spur economic growth amid the most severe downturn since the Great Depression. Also in 2009, he signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, giving women who are paid less than men for the same work the right to sue their employers after they find out about the discrimination, even if it happened years earlier. The same year, he signed the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act, expanding the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) to cover an additional four million children, paid for by a tax increase on tobacco products. In 2010, he signed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act to re-regulate the financial sector after its practices caused the Great Recession. The law tightens capital requirements on large banks and other financial institutions, allows the government to take them into receivership if they pose a threat to the economy, and limits their ability to trade with customers’ money for their own profit. In 2015, he signed the USA Freedom Act, which bans the governmental collection of bulk data, creates a special panel to provide technical and legal advice to the court administering the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA); noted the first act since 1978 that restricts rather than expands government surveillance.
More recently, in January 2016, President Obama Led six nations in reaching an agreement with Iran that requires the country to end its nuclear weapons program and submit to a rigorous International Atomic Energy Agency inspections regime in exchange for lifting global sanctions. One of his biggest achievements may have been the elimination of Osama bin Laden and ending US combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. Noteworthy is the fact that he improved the economy and cut the deficit: As of October 2016, the economy had added 15.5 million new jobs since early 2010 and set a record with seventy-three straight months of private-sector job growth. President Obama reduced the federal deficit from 9.8 percent of GDP in 2009 to 3.2 percent in 2016; one benefit of a strengthening economy.
Additionally, he repealed “Don’t ask, don’t tell”, reversed President Bush’s torture policies, normalized relations with Cuba, kicked banks off federal student loans, passed credit card reforms, launched clean energy investments, turned around the US auto industry, expanded Pell Grant funding, passed Fair Sentencing Act, gave the FDA the power to regulate tobacco, expanded overtime pay, improved school nutrition, won major victories against housing and mortgage discrimination, and rebuilt the Gulf Coast post-Katrina by completing a $14.5 billion system to rebuild the levees in New Orleans and protect from 100-year storm. Most importantly, he is the first president since Eisenhower to serve two terms with no serious personal or political scandals.
There are many more achievements credited to President Obama that cannot be captured within the parameters of this article. At the threshold of a new era, we recognize the remarkable greatness of a man who embodied and exemplified the true audacity of hope; a concept all too familiar to Lebanese-Americans.
The Lebanese American Council for Democracy would like to acknowledge President Obama’s distinguished accomplishments and honor the outstanding man behind them before the last farewell. We thank him for his great service to our country and wish him and the First Family all the best in the years to come. We also wish the new administration and President-Elect Trump strength, success, and prosperity in leading our beloved country, offering our dedicated support and unquestionable loyalty in this most important endeavor.
Marlene M. Sabeh
LACD Media Coordinator