10 Reasons We Thank President ObamaJanuary 19, 2017
President Obama's Achievements: In spite of the struggle ahead, he leaves America a better nation.
Under the presidency of Barack Obama, we have seen some of the broadest expansion of America’s social safety net since the implementation of Lyndon Baines Johnson’s Great Society and War on Poverty of the 1960’s. President Obama’s leadership has provided healthcare for tens of millions of people, transformed the banking and auto industries, resuscitated the economy, made marriage an institution of equality and protected workers in ways unseen since after the Great Depression.
For tens of thousands of 1199SEIU members who dedicated themselves to his election and advancing his agenda, President Obama is a symbol of equality, possibility, change and hope. His two terms in office, though occasionally tumultuous, are sources of tremendous pride for our union and hundreds of millions of working people across the country. As the nation’s first African American president, with his open-hearted brilliance, exemplary leadership – and at times his fallibility – Barack Obama personified America’s promise. For the last eight years we have stood with him as he led our country with an abiding vision of a better nation, a profound respect for the stewardship of his office and genuine pride in the communal possibility borne of American Exceptionalism – all of which he shared with us Jan. 10 in his farewell speech from Chicago:
“For 240 years, our nation’s call to citizenship has given work and purpose to each new generation. It’s what led patriots to choose republic over tyranny, pioneers to trek west, slaves to brave that makeshift railroad to freedom. It’s what pulled immigrants and refugees across oceans and the Rio Grande, pushed women to reach for the ballot, powered workers to organize. It’s why GIs gave their lives at Omaha Beach and Iwo Jima; Iraq and Afghanistan – and why men and women from Selma to Stonewall were prepared to give theirs as well. So that’s what we mean when we say America is exceptional. Not that our nation has been flawless from the start, but that we have shown the capacity to change, and make life better for those who follow.”
Below are some notable moments from the Obama Presidency. They are hardly the sum of this remarkable administration, but they are a start. Share your Obama moment with us.
1. Won Passage of The Affordable Care Act. The signature achievement of President Obama’s administration. This is historic legislation put the country on path to healthcare coverage for all. It has been relentlessly attacked by right wing conservatives since its inception. Currently in jeopardy is healthcare coverage for 22 million people now insured under the ACA as well as Medicaid, Medicare and our entire healthcare safety net.
2. Won the Nobel Peace Prize. President Obama was awarded The Nobel Peace Prize in 2009 for “his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and international cooperation between peoples.”
3. Won Passage of The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Also known as the stimulus package, this is arguably the greatest expansion of anti-poverty programs since the Johnson administration and the largest tax cut for the middle class since the Reagan administration. The stimulus package provided funding for the creation of over 3 million jobs, mostly in the areas of infrastructure and critical public services such as firefighters and nurses. The program also provided record amounts of funding for scientific research to The National Institutes of Health, The National Science Foundation and other institutions.
4. Signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. One of the first bills Pres. Obama signed into law; it overturned a Supreme Court decision that restricted the rights of workers to file wage discrimination cases.
5. Achieved Marriage Equality. Marriage between same-sex couples is now the law of the land. The Obama administration also refused to support the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and ended the U.S. military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, paving the way for LGBTQ service members to serve openly in the military.
6. Signed The Zadroga Act. The James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act provides medical treatment and compensation to 9/11 responders made sick by exposure to toxins during their work at the World Trade Center disaster site.
7. Appointed the First Hispanic Supreme Court Justice. President Obama appointed Justice Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court and doubled the number of woman justices from two to four.
8. Saved the U.S. Auto Industry & Strengthened Banking Regulations In 2009, the Ford Motor Company, General Motors and Chrysler were on the brink of disaster; at the beginning of Pres. Obama’s administration “the big three” had lost nearly 40% of their sales. Millions of jobs were at risk. Obama’s forceful plan preserved jobs, streamlined the industry and eventually yielded a stronger, more vibrant U.S. automobile industry. And in spite of searing criticism from Republicans and Democrats alike, the plan cost taxpayers nothing. President Obama also won passage of the of Dodd-Frank law which creates consumer protection agency, regulates hedge funds and banks and created a body to oversees bank executives and financial institutions.
9. Took Up the Fight Against Climate Change. The Obama administration showed international and domestic leadership around the issue of climate change and protecting the environment. President Obama called the long-term implications of climate change “terrifying,” Under his leadership, the U.S. helped broker the 2102 Paris Climate Accord, which aims to significantly curb global warming and cut carbon emissions, worked with China on an ambitious emissions-reduction policy and implemented far-reaching clean air and water standards.
10. Re-established Relations with Cuba. More than half a century of failed Cold War policy has separated two countries that are less than 100 miles apart. President Obama and his administration formally re-established diplomatic relations with Cuba. In his remarks Pres. Obama reflected on what drove the decision. It has become his watchword. “The progress that we mark today is yet another demonstration that we don’t have to be imprisoned by the past. When something isn’t working, we can -– and will –- change.”