Barack obama economy 2012

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Economic policy of the Barack Obama administration
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The economic policy of the Barack Obama administration was characterized by moderate tax increases on higher income Americans. It was designed to fund health care reform, reduce the federal budget deficit, and decrease income inequality. His first term (20092013) included measures designed to address the Great Recession and Subprime mortgage crisis, which began in 2007. These included a major stimulus package, banking regulation, and comprehensive healthcare reform. As the economy improved and job creation continued during his second term (20132017), the Bush tax cuts were allowed to expire for the highest income taxpayers and a spending sequester (cap) was implemented, to further reduce the deficit back to typical historical levels. Corporate profits and the stock market reached record levels in 2010 and 2013 respectively, while inflation and interest rates remained near record low levels.[1][2][3]

Overview

">File:20090124 WeeklyAddress.ogvPlay media Obama presents his first weekly address as President of the United States on January 24, 2009, discussing the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 Job Growth by U.S. President, measured as cumulative percentage change from month after inauguration to end of term. U.S. real (inflation-adjusted) median household income reached an all-time record of $59,039 in 2016, up 3.2% from 2015.

President Obama was inaugurated in January 2009, in the depths of the Great Recession and a severe financial crisis that began in 2007. His administration continued the banking bailout and auto industry rescue begun by the previous administration and immediately enacted an $800 billion stimulus program, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), which included a blend of additional spending and tax cuts. By March 2010, the private sector began creating jobs consistently each month, a trend which continued through the end of his tenure, while public sector employment was slower to recover due to budget cuts.[1][2]

President Obama followed with the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), commonly referred to as "Obamacare". By 2016, the law covered approximately 24 million people with health insurance via a combination of state healthcare exchanges and an extension of Medicaid.[4] It lowered the rate of those without health insurance from approximately 16% in 2010 to 9% by 2015.[5] Throughout his tenure, healthcare costs continued to moderate. For example, healthcare premiums for those covered by employers rose by 69% from 2000 to 2005, but only 27% from 2010 to 2015.[6]

By 2017, nearly 70% of those on the ACA marketplace exchanges could purchase insurance for less than $75/month after subsidies.[7] The ACA was evaluated multiple times by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), which scored it as a moderate deficit reducer, as it included tax hikes primarily on high income taxpayers (roughly the top 5%) and reductions in future Medicare cost increases, offsetting subsidy costs.[8] No Republicans in the House or Senate voted for the law.[1]

To address the excesses in the banking sector that precipitated the crisis, Obama signed the 2010 DoddFrank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. This law limited bank risk-taking and overhauled the outdated regulatory regime that was ineffective in monitoring the non-depository or shadow banking sector at the core of the crisis, which had outgrown the traditional depository banking sector. It also created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. However, it did not breakup the largest banks (which had grown even larger due to forced mergers during the crisis) or separate investment and depository banking, as the Glass-Steagal Act had done. Only a few Republicans in Congress voted for the law.[1]

During his first two years, President Obama had a majority in the House and the Senate, which coincided with the 111th United States Congress, considered to have been one of the most productive Congresses in terms of legislation passed since the 89th Congress, during Lyndon Johnson's Great Society.[9][10][11][12] However, in the November 2010 elections, the Republicans won the House majority and reduced the Democratic majority in the Senate. He faced either a split or Republican Congress thereafter, limiting his economic legislation to mainly budgetary matters.

The Great Recession had caused federal government revenues to fall to their lowest level relative to the size of the economy in 50 years. At the same time, safety net expenditures (including automatic stabilizers such as unemployment compensation and disability payments) and stimulus measures caused expenditures to rise considerably. This drove the budget deficit up, creating significant debt concerns. This resulted in a series of bruising debates with the Republican Congress.

President Obama signed the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, which included the expiration of the Bush tax cuts for high income earners and implemented a sequester (cap) on spending for the military and other discretionary categories of spending. Compared against a baseline where the Bush tax cuts were allowed to expire on schedule in 2010 for all levels of income, it significantly increased future deficits. Compared against the prior years, it significantly reduced the deficit and limited future cost increases. This law and the recovering economy lowered the deficit back to the historical average relative to GDP by 2014.[1]

With the economy recovering and major budget legislation behind him, President Obama began to shift to another priority, income and wealth inequality. From 1950 to 1979, the top 1% earned roughly a 10% share of the income. However, this had risen to 24% by 2007, due to a combination of globalization, automation, and policy changes that weakened worker's bargaining position relative to capital (owners).[13] He referred to the widening income gap as the "defining challenge of our time" during 2013.[14] His tax increases on higher-income taxpayers raised their effective tax rates starting in 2013, helping address after-tax income inequality,[15] while job creation remained robust.

Wealth inequality had also risen similarly, with the share of wealth owned by the top 1% rising from 24% in 1979 to 36% by 2007.[13] While U.S. household net worth rose nearly 30% from its pre-crisis peak in 2007 to 2016,[16] much of this gain went to the wealthiest Americans, as it had prior to his tenure. By 2015, the share of wealth owned by the top 1% reached 42%.[13]

President Obama also attempted to address inequality before taxes (i.e., market income), with infrastructure investment to create middle-class jobs and a federally-mandated increase in the minimum wage. While the latter was defeated by the Republican Congress, many states did increase their minimum wages, due in part to his support.[1] During late 2015, the House and Senate, in rare bipartisan form, passed the largest infrastructure package in a decade, the Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act.[17]

The cumulative changes in several economic variables from the start of his tenure in January 2009 to late 2016 were: Stock markets +180%; Corporate profits +112%; Auto sales +85%; Home prices +24%; Real GDP +15%; Number of jobs +8%; and number of Americans without health insurance -39%. While the annual federal deficit was down 58%, the national debt was up 88%.[18]

Responding to the Great Recession

Non-farm job creation averaged approximately 200,000/month for 73 months from October 2010 to October 2016, a robust rate by historical standards. The unemployment rate fell from 10% to less than 5%.[19][20] CBO explained that the shortfall in employment relative to a theoretical full employment level fell from nearly 10 million in 2010 to 1.6 million by late 2016. The shortfall was due to excess levels of unemployment and a decline in labor force participation.[21] The tier 1 ratio represents the strength of the financial cushion that a bank maintains; the higher the ratio, the stronger the financial position of the bank, other things equal. DoddFrank set standards for improving this ratio and has been successful in that regard.[2] U.S. changes in household debt as a percentage of GDP for 1989-2016. Recoveries from financial crises tend to be protracted, as debt levels must be reduced before typical borrow-and-spend patterns are resumed. In this case, homeowners paid down debt from 2009-2012.[22] Several major U.S. economic variables had recovered from the 2007-2009 Subprime mortgage crisis and Great Recession by the 2013-2014 time period. See also: Subprime mortgage crisis

President Obama's first inauguration was held during the depths of the Great Recession. The situation was dire; the economy had lost nearly 3.6 million jobs in 2008 and was shedding jobs at a nearly 800,000 per month rate when he took office. During September 2008, several major financial institutions either collapsed, were forced into mergers, or were bailed-out by the government. The financial system was nearly frozen, as the equivalent of a bank run on the essentially unregulated, non-depository shadow banking system was in-progress.[23] Ben Bernanke later stated that 12 of the 13 largest U.S. financial institutions were at risk of failure during the crisis.[24]

The Bush Administration had passed the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program in October 2008 and provided enormous loan guarantees to help strengthen the banks as late as January 2009 during the transition period. Further, the U.S. Federal Reserve under Ben Bernanke was taking a series of innovative emergency steps to inject money into the financial system, acting in their role as the "lender of last resort." Obama and Bernanke agreed that further action was also needed by Congress to help boost the economy beyond Wall Street.[1][25]

Stimulus

Main article: American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009

On February 17, 2009, Obama signed into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, a $831billion economic stimulus package aimed at helping the economy recover from the deepening worldwide recession.[26] The act increased federal spending by $573 billion[27] for health care, infrastructure, education and social benefits, with the remainder used for tax relief[28] including a $116 billion income tax cut that benefited 95% of working families.[29] Democrats overwhelmingly supported this measure, while only a few Senate Republicans supported the law.

The CBO estimated ARRA would positively impact GDP and employment, with primary impact between 2009 and 2011. It projected an increase in the GDP of between 1.4 and 3.8% by late 2009, 1.1 and 3.3% by late 2010, and 0.4 and 1.3% by late 2011, as well as a decrease of between zero and 0.2% beyond 2014.[30] The impact to employment would be an increase of 0.8million to 2.3million by last-2009, an increase of 1.2million to 3.6million by late 2010, an increase of 0.6million to 1.9million by late 2011, and declining increases in subsequent years as the U.S. labor market reaches nearly full employment, but never negative.[30] The CBO estimated that enacting the bill would increase federal budget deficits by $185 billion over the remaining months of fiscal year 2009, $399 billion in 2010, and $134 billion in 2011, or $787 billion over the 20092019 period.[31]

The Congressional Budget Office and a broad range of economists credit Obama's stimulus plan for economic growth.[32][33] The CBO's final analysis in February 2015 found that ARRA provided substantial improvement to GDP growth and employment.[34]

CBO final estimate of impact of Obama stimulus

Although an April 2010 survey of members of the National Association for Business Economics (NABE) showed an increase in job creation (over a similar January survey) for the first time in two years, 73% of the 68 respondents believed that the stimulus bill had no impact on employment at their company after one year of ARRA's enactment.[35] The economy of the United States has grown faster than the other original NATO members by a wider margin under President Obama than it has anytime since the end of World War II.[36] The OECD credits the much faster growth in the United States to the stimulus in the United States, in contrast to the austerity measures taken in the European Union.[37]

The Council of Economic Advisers produced a comprehensive report on the ARRA in 2014, which includes a variety of graphics illustrating the positive effect on both GDP and jobs. It also covers the allocation of spending and tax cuts contained in the legislation.[38]

U.S. automobile industry support

Obama intervened in the troubled automotive industry[39] in March 2009, renewing loans for General Motors and Chrysler to continue operations while reorganizing. Over the following months, the White House set terms for both firms' bankruptcies, including the sale of Chrysler to Italian automaker Fiat[40] and a reorganization of General Motors giving the U.S. government a temporary 60% equity stake in the company, with the Canadian government taking a 12% stake.[41]

In June 2009, dissatisfied with the pace of economic stimulus, Obama called on his cabinet to accelerate the investment.[42] By late 2013, the Federal Government had disposed of (re-privatized) all of its investments in Chrysler and GM. As of late 2016, taxpayers had recovered $71 billion of the $80 billion invested in the automobile industry.[2]

According to a study by the Center for Automotive Research, the bailout saved 2.63 million jobs and saved or avoided the loss of $105 billion in transfer payments and the loss of personal and social insurance tax collection.[43][44] Auto and light truck production pre-crisis of 2007 was 16.0 million units, fell to 10.4 million units at the trough of the Great Recession in 2009, then steadily rebounded to 18.3 million by December 2016.[45] He also signed into law the Car Allowance Rebate System program, also known as "Cash for Clunkers."[46][47][48]

Trends in employment

See also: Unemployment in the United States

Approximately 8.7 million private sector jobs were lost between January 2008 and February 2010 due to the Great Recession. The unemployment rate (U-3) began rising from 4.7% in November 2007 and peaked at 10.0% in October 2009 as the crisis deepened, approximately where it remained until November 2010. Thereafter, it began a steady decline through the remainder of his tenure, reaching 4.7% in 2016. Another measure of unemployment (U-6), which includes workers marginally attached to the labor force and those employed part-time for economic reasons, rose from 8.4% in November 2007 and peaked at 17.1% in November 2009, approximately where it remained until November 2010. Thereafter, it began a steady decline until reaching 9.4% in January 2017.[49]

Measured from the month following his inauguration in January 2009, the U.S. added 11.6 million private sector jobs from February 2009 to January 2017. Measured from the crisis trough in February 2010, the U.S. added a total of 16.1 million private sector jobs over the remaining 83 months of the Obama presidency the longest continuous period of private sector job creation on record.[50] By comparison, no net jobs were added during the 20002009 period including the crisis impact, while 18 to 22 million jobs were added each decade from 1970 to 1999.[51]

Non-farm job creation averaged approximately 200,000/month for 73 months from October 2010 to October 2016, a robust rate by historical standards. For example, job creation per month averaged 236,000 (Clinton), 209,000 (Carter), 167,000 (Reagan), 50,000 (G. H. W. Bush), and 13,000 (G. W. Bush).[51][52]

The 2017 'Economic Report of the President stated, "Nonfarm job growth turned consistently positive beginning in October 2010. Since then, the U.S. economy has added jobs for 74 straight months, the longest streak of total job growth on record; over this period, nonfarm employment growth has averaged 199,000 jobs a month. Total nonfarm employment recovered to its pre-recession peak in 2014the best year for job creation since the 1990sand, as of November 2016, exceeded its pre-recession peak by 6.7 million jobs."[2]

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated the size of an employment shortfall, defined as the number of workers below a full employment level. This shortfall steadily improved during Obama's tenure, from approximately 10 million in 2010 to 2.5 million as of December 2015, a figure roughly 1.5% of the 160 million person labor force. As the economy recovered towards full employment, a reduced labor force participation rate among prime working-aged persons (between ages 25 to 54 years old) accounted for a greater share of the shortfall. The overall labor force participation rate had been falling since 2000, as the country ages.[21]

In December 2015, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported the reasons why persons aged 16 years or older were outside the labor force, using the 2014 figure of 87.4 million: 1) Retired: 38.5 million or 44%; 2) Disabled or Illness: 16.3 million or 19%; 3) Attending School: 16.0 million or 18%; 4) Home Responsibilities: 13.5 million or 15%; and 4) Other Reasons: 3.1 million or 5%.[53] As of November 2016, BLS estimated that 90 million of the 95 million people outside the labor force indicated they "do not want a job now."[54]

During the Obama presidency, critics asserted that his policies (particularly the ACA) were destroying full-time employment and creating "Obama's Part-Time America."[55][56] However, from the month ACA was enacted in March 2010 to the end of the Obama presidency, full-time employment increased 12.5%, voluntary part-time employment (those who normally seek part-time work) declined 1.0%, and involuntary part-time employment (those who want full-time work but must settle for part-time) declined 35.4%.[57]

Banking regulation

To address the excesses in the banking sector that precipitated the crisis, Obama signed into law the DoddFrank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010, which limited bank risk-taking and overhauled the outdated regulatory regime that was ineffective in monitoring the non-depository or shadow banking sector at the core of the crisis, which had outgrown the traditional depository banking sector. It also created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). However, it did not breakup the largest banks (which had grown even larger due to forced mergers during the crisis) or separate investment and depository banking, as the Glass-Steagal Act had done. Nearly all Congressional Democrats but only a few Republicans voted for the law.[1] On December 10, 2014, the President himself, together with JP Morgan's Jamie Dimon, helped whip House votes in favor of the "cromnibus" spending bill, which included a provision that one lawmaker argued would significantly weaken the Dodd-Frank regulations.[58]

Recovery

The Great Recession of 2007-2009 was different in kind from the all the recessions since the Great Depression, as it also involved a banking crisis and the de-leveraging (debt reduction) of highly indebted households. Research indicates recovery from financial crises can be protracted, with lengthy periods of high unemployment and substandard economic growth.[59] Economist Carmen Reinhart stated in August 2011: "Debt de-leveraging [reduction] takes about seven years ... And in the decade following severe financial crises, you tend to grow by 1 to 1.5 percentage points less than in the decade before, because the decade before was fueled by a boom in private borrowing, and not all of that growth was real. The unemployment figures in advanced economies after falls are also very dark. Unemployment remains anchored about five percentage points above what it was in the decade before."[60]

Several key economic variables (e.g., Job level, real GDP per capita, household net worth, and the federal budget deficit) hit their low point (trough) in 2009 or 2010, after which they began to turn upward, recovering to pre-recession (2007) levels between late 2012 and May 2014, which marked the recovery of all jobs lost during the recession.[61][62][63][64] Real median household income fell to a trough of $53,331 in 2012, but recovered to an all-time high of $59,039 by 2016.[65]

The Great Recession had a particularly severe effect on state and local tax receipts, causing many states and localities to reduce spending and employment to balance budgets as mandated by their constitutions or statutes. This government contraction subtracted from real GDP growth, creating an economic drag, rather than government adding to real GDP as is typical.[66] Obama noted this in June 2012, saying, "The private sector is doing fine. Where were seeing weaknesses in our economy have to do with state and local government -- oftentimes, cuts initiated by governors or mayors who are not getting the kind of help that they have in the past from the federal government and who dont have the same kind of flexibility as the federal government in dealing with fewer revenues coming in."[67]

Healthcare reform

This chart illustrates several aspects of the Affordable Care Act, including number of persons covered, cost before and after subsidies, and public opinion. Coverage rate, employer market cost trends, budgetary impact, and income inequality aspects of the Affordable Care Act. The distributional impact of the Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare) during 2014. The ACA raised taxes mainly on the top 1% to fund approximately $600 in benefits on average for the bottom 40% of families. Main article: Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

President Obama followed with the legislation that bears his name ("Obamacare"), the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010. It was built on three related concepts, including: 1) Subsidies for low-income persons to help them purchase health insurance; 2) Guaranteed issue and community rating, meaning persons with pre-existing medical conditions could not be discriminated against; and 3) Coverage requirements, enforced via both individual and employer "mandates" with financial incentives supporting them, to ensure healthy people (with few medical bills) would participate to help keep insurance costs down for all.[68] While the law received no Republican Congressional support, it was conceptually similar to the healthcare plan created by the conservative Heritage Foundation during the late 1980s and Romneycare.[69] Healthcare historian Paul Starr said in December 2017, "If you trace the origins of the ideas in the ACA, it was basically a bi-partisan bill passed on strictly partisan lines."[70]

By creating state-level marketplaces or exchanges, enough people could form pools to obtain cost-effective coverage. Furthermore, the law provided federal funding for states that chose to expand their Medicaid programs. The vast majority of congressional Democrats voted for the law, while no Republicans in the House or Senate did so.[71][72] Republicans, mainly in the House of Representatives, attempted on as many as 60 occasions to repeal, defund, or delay the law during Obama's tenure, but to no avail.[73]

Coverage

By 2016, the law covered approximately 24 million people with health insurance via a combination of state healthcare exchanges and funding for the state-level expansion of Medicaid to more people.[4] It lowered the rate of those without health insurance from approximately 16% in 2010 to 9% by 2015.[5] Poltifact cited various estimates that only about 2% of the total insured population (4 million out of 262 million) received notices that substandard policies would have to be changed, even though Obama was roundly criticized for claims that "if you like your health plan, you can keep it."[74]

However, despite federal financial incentives to do so, many states with Republican governors chose not to expand Medicaid to their residents under the ACA, which adversely affected coverage for lower-income citizens while reducing costs. According to the Urban Institute, those states that expanded Medicaid (32 of them, including Washington, D.C.) had a 7.3% uninsured rate in the first quarter of 2016, while those that did not (19 states) had a 14.1% uninsured rate among adults between the ages of 18 and 64 years old.[75][76]

Healthcare costs

Throughout his tenure, healthcare costs continued to moderate. For example, healthcare premiums for those covered by employers rose by 69% from 2000 to 2005, but only by 27% from 2010 to 2015.[6] To put these trends into perspective, the 2017 Economic Report of the President stated,

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Because of slow growth in costs in employer coverage...the average costs for a family with employer-based coverage in 2016 were $4,400 below where they would have been had costs grown at their pace over the decade before the ACA became law.

While these slower cost increases began before the ACA, they continued or further improved after its implementation.[2]

The ACA also provided subsidies to help lower-income families afford insurance. By 2017, nearly 70% of those on the exchanges could purchase insurance for less than $75/month after subsidies.[7] CBO estimated that subsidies paid under the law in 2016 averaged $4,240 per person for 10 million people receiving them, roughly $42 billion. For scale, the subsidy for the employer market, in the form of exempting from taxation those health insurance premiums paid on behalf of employees by employers, was approximately $1,700 per person in 2016, or $266 billion for the 155 million persons in the employer market. The employer market subsidy was not changed by the law.[4]

Budgetary impact

The law was evaluated multiple times by the Congressional Budget Office, which scored it as a moderate deficit reducer, as it included tax hikes primarily on high income taxpayers (over $200,000 roughly the Top 5%) and reductions in future Medicare cost increases, offsetting subsidy costs.[8] The CBO also reported in June 2015 that, "Including the budgetary effects of macroeconomic feedback, repealing the ACA would increase federal budget deficits by $137 billion over the 20162025 period."[8] CBO also estimated that excluding the effects of macroeconomic feedback, repeal of the ACA would increase the deficit by $353 billion over that same period.[8]

The 2017 Economic Report of the President also stated that ACA has improved healthcare quality, saying

Since 2010, the rate at which patients are harmed while seeking hospital care has fallen by 21 percent, which is estimated to have led to approximately 125,000 avoided deaths through 2015. Payment incentives created in the ACA have also driven a substantial decline in the rate at which patients return to hospital after discharge, corresponding to an estimated 565,000 avoided readmissions from April 2010 through May 2015.[2]

Public opinion

According to Gallup, the overall popularity of the law fell and then improved during Obama's tenure, but more disapproved of it (52%) than approved of it (44%) as of November 2016. Popularity was divided along party lines, with Democrats having a much more favorable view of the law.[77] Individual elements were considerably more popular than the law overall, even though the mandate requiring people to have insurance remained highly unpopular.[78][79]

Control of Congress

During his first two years, President Obama had a majority in the House and filibuster-proof super-majority in the Senate (until February 2010), which coincided with the 111th United States Congress, considered to have been one of the most productive Congresses in terms of legislation passed since the 89th Congress, during Lyndon Johnson's Great Society.[9][10][11][12] However, in the November 2010 elections, the Republicans won the House majority and reduced the Democratic majority in the Senate.

The 112th United States Congress (January 2011 to January 2013) was able to block many of President Obama's other legislative plans, resulting in one of the least productive Congresses since World War 2, with record low approval ratings.[80] Obama faced a highly unpopular split or Republican Congress thereafter. According to a Gallup Poll released in August 2014, the 113th Congress had the highest disapproval rating of any Congress since 1974, when data first started being collected: 83% of Americans surveyed said that they disapproved of the job Congress was doing, while only 13% said that they approved.[81][82] The 112th and later Congresses limited Obama's legislative accomplishments to primarily budgetary matters.

The federal budget debates

Four CBO charts with revenue, spending, deficit and debt information. The annual budget deficit fell significantly during the Obama administration, although debt relative to the size of the economy increased. Comparison of CBO 2009 deficit forecasts versus actual results 20092016. The deficit was cut by nearly two-thirds, falling from $1.4 trillion in FY2009 to below $500 billion by FY2014. Relative to the size of the economy, it fell each year 20102015.[83] Three CBO deficit scenarios related to the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (ATRA) and the Fiscal Cliff. The blue line (August 2012 baseline) was the "current law" baseline, with tax increases and spending cuts that would take effect if laws were not changed. The grey line (March 2012 alternative baseline) was the "current policy" baseline, which represented the avoidance of the tax increases and spending cuts. The orange line (February 2013 baseline) was the post-ATRA result. The vertical black dotted line is the January 2013 date of enactment.[84] Comparison of actual U.S. Federal Spending 20082015 versus a trend line based on the 5% average annual increase in 19902008. Spending was below the trend line starting in 2012. See also: United States federal budget

The Great Recession had caused federal government revenues to fall to their lowest level relative to the size of the economy for 50 years, with tax revenues falling nearly $400 billion (20%) between 2008 and 2009. At the same time, safety net expenditures caused expenditures to rise considerably. For example, automatic stabilizer spending (such as unemployment compensation, food stamps, and disability payments, which increased without legislative action) ranged between $350420 billion annually from 2009 to 2012,[85] roughly 10% of the expenditures. The combination of higher outlays and lower receipts[86] drove the budget deficit up even without any policy steps by President Obama, creating significant debt concerns. This resulted in a series of bruising debates with the Republican Congress, which attempted (with much success) to blame the President for the deficits caused primarily by the recession that began during the Bush administration.[1]

One incident illustrates the nature and tensions of the debate. The U.S. added $1.0 trillion to the national debt in fiscal year (FY) 2008, which ended in September 2008. The Congressional Budget Office projected two weeks prior to Obama's first inauguration that the deficit in FY 2009 (a year budgeted by President Bush) would be $1.2 trillion and that the debt increase over the following decade would be $3.1 trillion assuming the expiration of the Bush tax cuts as scheduled in 2010, or around $6.0 trillion if the Bush tax cuts were extended at all income levels. Adjusting other assumptions in the CBO baseline could have raised that debt level even higher.[83]

In response to Republican criticism, President Obama claimed,

The fact of the matter is that when we came into office, the deficit was $1.3 trillion [for FY 2009]...[with] $8 trillion worth of debt [projected] over the next decade.

a claim which Politifact rated as "Mostly True." President Obama had pledged not to raise taxes except on high income taxpayers, so his debt figure included the extension of the Bush tax cuts for most taxpayers. These facts did not stop Republicans from blaming the President for the ensuing debts during his administration.[87]

The Balance used three scenarios for describing the debt addition during the Obama Administration:

Debt added from when Obama was inaugurated January 20, 2009 ($10.6 trillion) to when he left office on January 20, 2017 ($20.0 trillion), an increase of $9.4 trillion. This calculation simply compares two points in time and does not analyze cause. Sum of the annual deficits in fiscal years budgeted by Obama (fiscal years 2010 to 2017), which totaled $6.5 trillion using the CBO historical tables. This also does not analyze cause. Measuring the debt added by Obama's policies, primarily the extension of the Bush tax cuts ($860 billion) and the ARRA stimulus ($800 billion).[88]

Within a month of the 2010 midterm elections, Obama announced a compromise deal with the Congressional Republican leadership that included a temporary, two-year extension of the 2001 and 2003 income tax rates, a one-year payroll tax reduction, continuation of unemployment benefits, and a new rate and exemption amount for estate taxes.[89] The compromise overcame opposition from some in both parties, and the resulting $858billion Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 passed with bipartisan majorities in both houses of Congress before Obama signed it on December 17, 2010.[90]

Debt ceiling crises

Further information: United States debt-ceiling crisis of 2011

On August 2, 2011, after a lengthy congressional debt limit debate, Obama signed into law the bipartisan Budget Control Act of 2011, which enforces limits on discretionary spending until 2021 (the "sequester"), establishes a procedure to increase the debt limit, creates a Congressional Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction to propose further deficit reduction with a stated goal of achieving at least $1.5trillion in budgetary savings over 10 years, and establishes automatic procedures for reducing spending by as much as $1.2trillion if legislation originating with the new joint select committee does not achieve such savings.[91][92]

By passing the legislation, the U.S. was able to prevent a U.S. government default on its obligations, as Congressional Republicans had initially refused to raise the debt ceiling.[93] President Obama referred to the situation as a "manufactured crisis", while Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called it "a new template...[raising] the debt ceiling will not be clean anymore."[91] The Republicans attempted to use the debt limit as a bargaining chip again in 2013, resulting in another debt ceiling crisis, which was resolved with minor legislation.

Tax policy

See also: Fiscal cliff

President Obama pledged before he was elected not to raise taxes except on those couples earning over $250,000 (200,000 for individuals). With the Bush tax cuts extension scheduled to expire in January 2013, Obama had significant leverage with the Republican Congress, as his veto of further extensions would have resulted in a sizable income tax increase across the income spectrum, a significant expansion of government, but contrary to his pledge. His compromise, the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (ATRA), passed by a wide majority in the Senate, with both Democrats and Republicans supporting it, while a majority of Republicans in the House opposed it. It extended the Bush tax cuts for roughly the bottom 99% of income earners (those earning below $400,000, or $450,000 for married couples).

Capital gains, dividends, and estate tax rates were also increased relative to the 20032012 levels; these also mainly affect high-income and wealthy households. It was estimated to increase revenues by $600 billion over a decade, roughly one-fifth of the amount if the tax cuts had been allowed to expire at all income levels. Stated another way, it extended roughly 80% of the Bush tax cuts indefinitely. Separately enacted as part of Obamacare, individual mandates and tobacco taxes impacted the middle class slightly, although they were mainly designed to adjust behavior rather than gather revenue.[94]

ATRA reduced the deficit trajectory significantly relative to the CBO "Alternative baseline" or "current policy" baseline of March 2012, which projected $10.7 trillion in deficit increases (debt) over the 2013-2022 decade. That baseline assumed the Bush tax cuts and other tax cuts would again be extended at all levels and that the discretionary spending sequester negotiated as part of the Budget Control Act of 2011 would not be implemented. The February 2013 (post ATRA) CBO baseline had deficit increases of $6.8 trillion over a decade, so ATRA reduced these deficits by approximately $3.9 trillion relative to current policies. However, measured another way, relative to the CBO August 2012 "current law baseline" (which assumed deficits would total $2.3 trillion over a decade via the expiration of the Bush tax cuts at all levels, several other tax increases, and implementation of the sequester) ATRA raised the deficit by $4.5 trillion.[84] The CBO had forecast that cutting the deficit towards the current law baseline would have a significant risk of recession in 2013 along with higher unemployment, so a more moderate trajectory was chosen by the President and Congress.[95]

Trends in deficits and debt

Comparison of annual federal deficits (CBO 10-year forecast from prior to inauguration vs. the actual amount), during the Obama and G.W. Bush presidencies. Bush added far more to the debt relative to the CBO 2001 forecast than Obama added relative to the CBO 2009 forecast.[96]

Federal spending increased significantly from $3.0 trillion in FY2008 to $3.5 trillion in FY 2009, the last fiscal year budgeted by President Bush. This increase was mainly driven by the Great Recession, with significant increases in automatic stabilizers such as unemployment insurance and food stamps. Spending then roughly stabilized at that dollar level through 2015. For instance, 2014 spending of $3,506B was slightly below the 2009 level of $3,517B. Throughout 2015, the U.S. federal government spent $3.7 trillion, around the historical average relative to the size of the economy at 20.7% GDP. Projecting 2008 spending forward at the historical 5% rate, by 2015 federal spending was $500 billion below trend. Spending rose to $4.0 trillion or 20.8% GDP in FY2017, the last year budgeted by President Obama.[97]

The budget deficit reached 9.8% GDP in 2009 in the depths of the recession, before steadily recovering to 2.5% GDP by 2015, below the historical average (19702015) of 2.8% GDP.[21] Federal spending per person rose approximately from $9,800 in 2008 to $11,440 in 2009 mainly due to the Great Recession, then declined somewhat (the first reduction since 1960) and remained relatively flat through 2015 at $11,480. It rose steadily thereafter to $12,217 in FY2017.[98]

The national debt increased from $10.0 trillion in September 2008 to $19.6 trillion in September 2016.[99] As described above, roughly $3 trillion of this increase was anticipated in the January 2009 CBO baseline forecast, or $68 trillion adjusting for the extension of the Bush tax cuts and other baseline overrides typically legislated.[83][87] Obama ultimately extended the Bush tax cuts for approximately 98% of taxpayers as part of the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, allowing taxes to rise on the top 12% of income earners. This extension represented about 80% of the dollar value of the tax cuts. The debt held by the public (which excludes intra-governmental liabilities like the Social Security Trust Fund) rose from around 36% GDP in 2009 to 76% GDP in 2016, the highest level except for the post World War 2 era.[21]

Upon taking office, the Obama administration eliminated four budgeting gimmicks the Bush administration had used to underestimate deficits, causing reported deficits to increase by $2.7 trillion over the coming decade.[100]

Summary of major budgetary legislation

President Obama signed four key laws that significantly impacted the level of revenue and spending:

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, an $800 billion stimulus spending and tax cut bill; The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, which CBO estimated would increase revenues and spending in approximately equal amounts; The Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010, an $850 billion bill with payroll, income, and AMT tax cuts along with an extension of unemployment benefits; and The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, which included the expiration of the Bush tax cuts for high income earners and implemented a sequester (cap) on spending for the military and other discretionary categories of spending. Compared against a baseline where the Bush tax cuts were allowed to expire for all levels of income, it significantly increased future deficits. Compared against the prior year, it significantly reduced the deficit and avoided some future cost increases.

Obama inherited a highly ambiguous fiscal outlook, with several important tax laws scheduled to expire during his first term in office, not to mention uncertainty regarding the depth of the financial crisis and Great Recession. These laws included the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 (scheduled to expire in 2010) and temporary "patches" that prevented the alternative minimum tax from impacting the middle class. This ambiguity resulted in the CBO publishing a second "alternative fiscal scenario" during 2009 to help explain the consequences of making this tax relief permanent over the following decades. This ambiguity culminated in the United States fiscal cliff and was addressed by the latter two laws listed above, such that the CBO returned to publishing just one fiscal scenario by 2016.[101]

Addressing income inequality

From 2012 to 2013, the average federal tax rate of the top 1% of income earners rose from 28% to 34%, due to tax increases in the ACA and the expiration of the Bush tax cuts for the highest income earners. Selected economic variables related to wealth and income equality, comparing 1979, 2007, and 2015. See also: Income inequality in the United States The image contains several charts related to U.S. wealth inequality. While U.S. net worth roughly doubled from 2000 to 2016, the gains went primarily to the wealthy. The share of wealth of the top 1% has increased since the 1970s.

With the economy recovering and major budget legislation behind him, President Obama began to shift to another priority, income and wealth inequality. From 1950 to 1979, the top 1% earned roughly a 10% share of the market or pre-tax income. However, this had risen to 24% by 2007, due to a combination of globalization, automation, and policy changes that weakened labor's bargaining position relative to capital.[13][102] Further, the Center for American Progress estimated that 76% of the real income gains between 2009 and 2013 went to the top 1%.[103] In December 2013, Obama declared that growing income inequality is a "defining challenge of our time" and called on Congress to bolster the safety net and raise wages. This came on the heels of the nationwide strikes of fast-food workers and Pope Francis' criticism of inequality and trickle-down economics.[14][104]

Income inequality can be addressed by pre-tax (market) income policies ("pre-distribution") that raise worker pay, as well as after-tax policies that raise taxes on higher-income taxpayers to fund transfers to lower-income taxpayers ("redistribution"). President Obama attempted both strategies, with some success in reducing both the pre-tax and after-tax share of income of the top 1% measured 2012 to 2013 (the most recent CBO data available as of December 2016), which means the share of income of the bottom 99% increased.[15]

An alternate data series, from economists Piketty, Saez, and Zucman (that includes 2014 data) also indicated that the income share of the top 1% both pre-tax and after-tax was lower in 2014 than 2012, indicating improved inequality. However, they also found the share of both pre-tax and after-tax income of the top 1% was slightly higher in 2014 than 2007.[105]

Redistribution

Obama increased taxes on high-income taxpayers via: a) expiration of the Bush income tax cuts for the top 12% of income earners starting with 2013; and b) payroll tax increases on roughly the top 5% of earners as part of the ACA. This increased the average tax rate paid by the top 1% (incomes above $443,000 in 2015) from 28% in 2012 to 34% in 2013.[15] According to the CBO, after-tax income inequality improved, by lowering the share of after-tax income received by the top 1% from 16.7% in 2007 to 15.1% in 2012 and to 12.4% in 2013.[15]

The bottom 99% also saw an average federal tax rate increase by one percentage point from 2012 to 2013, mainly due to the expiration of the Obama payroll tax cuts, which were in place in 2011 and 2012. However, for income groups in the bottom 99%, the average federal tax rate remained at or below the 2007 level.[15] Politifact rated the claim that Obama had cut taxes for middle-class families and small businesses as "Mostly True" in 2012.[106]

In addition, the ACA Medicaid expansion (10 million persons in 2016) and subsidies (approximately 10 million persons received a total of $42 billion in 2016, or about $4,200 each) also served to address after-tax income inequality, by transferring money and providing health insurance to lower-income citizens.[2] A 2016 report from the Obama Administration claimed that "Tax changes enacted since 2009 have boosted the share of after-tax income received by the bottom 99 percent of families by more than the tax changes of any previous Administration since at least 1960."[2]

Predistribution

President Obama also attempted to address inequality before taxes (i.e., market income), with an increase in the minimum wage and infrastructure investment. While the Republican Congress did not support a federally-mandated increase in the minimum wage, 18 states did increase their minimum wages, benefiting an estimated 7 million workers, following the President's 2013 State of the Union speech calling for an increase.[2] During late 2015, the House and Senate, in rare bipartisan form, passed the largest infrastructure package in a decade, costing $305 billion over five years, less than the $478 billion in Obama's initial request. He signed the Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act into law in December 2015.[17]

Obama also issued several executive orders and his administration issued regulatory rulings designed to help workers. One included raising the salary threshold above which employers do not have to pay overtime, from $455 to $913 per week. This would have increased the earnings of as many as 4.2 million workers beginning December 1, 2016, but it was blocked by a federal judge.[107] The Labor Department also issued guidelines for employers on whether to treat contractors as employees; the latter receive additional pay and benefits. President Obama also issued executive orders to raise pay at companies that receive government contracts.[108]

According to the CBO, the top 1% received 18.7% of the pre-tax income in 2007, but 17.3% in 2012 and 15.0% in 2013. This indicated some progress on pre-tax inequality as well.[15]

Wealth inequality

Wealth inequality had also risen similarly, with the share of wealth owned by the top 1% rising from 24% in 1979 to 36% by 2007.[109] While U.S. household net worth rose nearly 30% from its pre-crisis peak in 2007 to 2016,[16] much of this gain went to the wealthiest Americans, as it had prior to his tenure.[109] By 2015, the share of wealth owned by the top 1% reached 42%. However, the share of wealth owned by the bottom 50% fell from 2.9% in 1979 to 2.6% in 2007 and 1.1% in 2015, as the crisis did additional damage to highly leveraged households that had purchased homes with low down-payments.[109][110]

Trade

President Obama has urged Congress to ratify a 12-nation free trade pact called the Trans-Pacific Partnership.[111] In theory, free trade enables economies to focus on those products where they have comparative advantage, making both economies better off. While trade maximizes the overall outcome, specific groups are helped or hurt by trade. Due to a backlash against globalization in both the U.S. and Europe by working-class voters, several politicians in the 2016 U.S. election expressed their opposition to the deal.[112]

The trade deficit (imports greater than exports) fell dramatically as a result of the Great Recession, falling from a 2006 pre-crisis record peak of $802 billion to $380 billion by 2009. During Obama's presidency, the trade deficit moved in a range between approximately $400 and $500 billion.[113]

Economic results summary

Several major U.S. economic variables during the Great Recession and President Obama's terms in office. Panel chart showing several economic variables related to household income and net worth U.S. cumulative real (inflation-adjusted) GDP growth by President.[114]

The economic performance during the Obama administration can be measured by analyzing several key variables:[115] Analysis conducted by Bloomberg News in January 2019 found that the Obama economy after two years ranked second among the seven presidents from 1977-2019, based on fourteen metrics of economic activity and financial performance.[116]

Overall

  • Economic growth, measured as the change in real GDP, averaged 2.0% from Q2 2009 to Q4 2016. This was slower than the 2.6% average from Q1 1989 to Q4 2008.[117] Real GDP grew nearly 3% during President Bush's first term but only 0.5% during his second. During the Clinton administration, the GDP growth was close to 4%, slightly faster than the Reagan administration.[118]
  • Real GDP rose from $14.4 trillion in Q1 2009 to $16.8 trillion in Q4 2016, a cumulative increase of $2.4 trillion or 16.6%.[119] Real GDP per capita rose from $46,930 in 2009 to $51,523 in 2016 (a record level), an increase of $4,593 or 9.7%.[120]
  • Inflation (measured by CPI-All Urban Consumers, All Items) fell to a historically low level during his administration, averaging 1.4% from Q2 2009 to Q4 2016, well below the 3.0% average from Q1 1989 to Q4 2008.[121]
  • Interest rates also fell and remained very low. The yield on the 10-year Treasury bond averaged 2.4% from Q2 2009 to Q4 2016, well below the 5.8% average from Q1 1989-Q4 2008.[121]
  • The debt held by the public rose from $6.3 trillion on January 31, 2009 to $14.4 trillion on December 31, 2016, an increase of $8.1 trillion or 128%.[122] Measured as a% GDP, it rose from 52.3% GDP in 2009 to 76% GDP by 2016.[123] As described above, most of the debt increase was inherited from the prior administration (e.g., tax cuts and wars) or was due to the Great Recession (e.g., declining revenue and higher automatic stabilizer spending), as opposed to Obama's policies.[87][124]
  • The national debt (the debt held by the public plus intra-governmental debt) rose from $10.6 trillion on January 31, 2009 to $20.0 trillion on December 31, 2016, an increase of $9.4 trillion or 88%.[122]
  • Obama presided over the third longest economic expansion among the 33 expansions tracked since records began in 1857, and the longest continuous stretch of private sector job creation since records began in 1939.[125][126][127]

Labor market

  • The number of civilian persons employed rose from 142.1 million in January 2009 to 152.1 million by December 2016, an increase of 10.0 million or 7.0%.[128]
  • The unemployment rate (U-3), rose during the Great Recession to peak at 10.0%, then fell back towards full employment by the end of his two terms to 4.7%, similar to 2007 pre-crisis levels during the Bush administration. The wider U-6 rate, which includes marginally attached and those working part-time for economic reasons, followed a similar path to peak at 17.1%, but ended slightly above the pre-crisis levels at 9.2%.[49][129]
  • The ratio of employed to civilian population ("EM Ratio") for the prime working age group (ages 25 to 54) fell from around 80% pre-crisis to 75% by early 2010, then steadily recovered to 78% by 2016. However, the labor force participation rate ("LFPR") for that group continued a long-term downward trend,[2] falling from around 83% pre-crisis to 81% during Obama's tenure.[130]
  • Between 2014 and 2015, real median household income grew 5.2%, or $2,800, the fastest growth on record. Contrary to prior trends, these gains were widely shared across the income distribution.[2]
  • The 2017 Economic Report of the President stated that: "Since the end of 2012, private production and non-supervisory workers, who comprise about 80 percent of private-sector employment, have seen their real hourly earnings increase by 5.3 percent, more than the total cumulative real wage gains for these workers from 1980 to 2007. Overall, real hourly wage growth since the business cycle peak in December 2007 has averaged 0.8 percent a year for these workers, the fastest growth of any business cycle (measured peak-to-peak) since the 1970s."[2]
  • The percent of persons aged 25 or older with a bachelor's degree or higher increased from 27.7% in 2008 to 30.1% in 2016.[131]

Households

  • Real median household income reached a record level of $59,039 by 2016, after recovering from a trough of $53,331 in 2012. The $2,800 or 5.2% increase between 2014 and 2015 was the largest one-year increase since the government started keeping track in 1968, and was followed by a 3.2% increase between 2015 and 2016.[3][132]
  • U.S. household and non-profit net worth also reached record highs, growing from $54.4 trillion in Q1 2009 to $92.8 trillion by Q4 2016, an increase of 70%, driven primarily by record stock and bond prices. Measured from the pre-crisis peak of $67.7 trillion in Q2 2007, it increased 37%.[133]
  • U.S. households significantly reduced their debt burden, from a peak of 99% GDP in 2008 to 80% by Q4 2016,[134] as they increased savings to pay off mortgages or lost their homes to foreclosure in the Great Recession. This debt reduction ("deleveraging") was a headwind to the recovery through much of President Obama's tenure.[135] In contrast, during the Bush administration, households had increased their debt burden dramatically, which boosted the economy but later proved unsustainable.[110]
  • The official poverty rate in 2015 was 13.5%, down from 14.8% in 2014 but up from 12.5% in 2007, as the economy recovered from the Great Recession of 2007, 2008, and 2009. In 2015, there were 43.1 million in poverty, 3.5 million less than 2014.[136] This was the largest one-year drop in the poverty rate since the 1960s.[2]
  • Student loan debt rose from $706.1 billion (4.8% GDP) in Q1 2009 to $1,406.8 billion (7.45% GDP) in Q4 2016.[137]

Businesses and markets

  • U.S. corporate profits reached their highest level in history, both in terms of dollars ($1.771 trillion annualized in Q4 2014) and GDP percent (10.8% in Q1 2012). Corporate profits were robust after 2009 and remained near record levels from Q1 2012 to Q4 2016. Annualized corporate profits rose from $1.0 trillion in Q1 2009 to $1.7 trillion in Q4 2016, an increase of 70%.[138]
  • The stock market, measured by the S&P500 index, rose from its 10-year low of 676.53 on March 9, 2009 to 2,204.72 by November 23, 2016, a 226% increase.[139] The S&P500 reached record highs 118 times during the Obama presidency.[140]
  • The stock market, measured by the Dow Jones Industrial Average, fell from its October 9, 2007 pre-crisis peak of 14,164.53 to 6,594.44 on March 5, 2009. It regained the pre-crisis peak on March 5, 2013, closing at 14,253.77. It rose to 18,636.52 on August 15, 2016 and 19,974.62 on December 20, 2016.[141]

Energy

  • Imports of petroleum products fell from 1.85% GDP in 2009 to 0.86% GDP in 2016.[142] The U.S. was less reliant on foreign oil than it has been in nearly 30 years.[2]
  • Gasoline prices fluctuated between $2.00 and $4.00, falling towards the lower part of that range after mid-2014.[143]
  • From 2008 to 2016, the U.S. tripled the amount of energy harnessed from wind and increased solar power generation by a factor of 30.[2]
  • In June 2014 the Obama administration waived the crude oil export ban that had been in place since the 1973 oil crisis, injecting American oil production into global trading markets.[144] Prices for benchmark Brent crude and American gasoline immediately declined precipitously.[145] Congress and Obama fully repealed the export ban in December 2015.[146]

Economic narratives

Sectoral financial balances in U.S. economy 19902017. By definition, the three balances must net to zero. During President Obama's tenure, an increase in the private sector surplus due to the Great Recession drove a corresponding government budget deficit.[147]

One narrative for explaining the economic and budgetary performance during President Obama's tenure uses sectoral balances. By definition, a country running a trade deficit (capital surplus) and where private savings exceeds business investment (private sector surplus) must run a government budget deficit, as the three must net to zero. Both Martin Wolf[148] and Paul Krugman[149] explained that as the Great Recession hit, the saving (deleveraging) of the private sector significantly increased, while business investment declined in the face of reduced consumer spending. This created an enormous private sector surplus. Since the trade deficit did not change significantly, the offset was a large increase in the government budget deficit. The record drop in tax revenue and large increases in automatic stabilizer expenditures (such as unemployment compensation, food stamps, and disability payments) were the mechanism for much of the additional deficit and debt increases, even before new economic policies were implemented. The significant reduction in demand implied by the increase in the private sector surplus (i.e., consumers and businesses saving rather than spending or investing) created a severe recession.[147]

Another way to look at President Obama's tenure is as a slow recovery from a combined financial crisis and recession. Research indicates such recoveries can be protracted, with lengthy periods of high unemployment and substandard economic growth.[150][60][151] The U.S. economy steadily recovered as homeowners completed their deleveraging (debt reduction) and began to spend again, encouraging businesses to hire and invest. Supporting the recovery process were the stimulative monetary policies of the Federal Reserve, which maintained low interest rates and asset buying programs to encourage economic growth throughout President Obama's tenure.[152]

Views before election

Energy policy

Barack Obama delivering a speech at the University of Southern California in support of California Proposition 87

In his New Energy For America plan, Obama proposes to reduce overall U.S. oil consumption by at least 35%, or 10 million barrels per day, by 2030 in order to offset imports from OPEC nations.[153][154] And by 2011 the United States was said to be "awash with domestic oil and increasingly divorced and less reliant on foreign imports".[155]

Obama voted in favor of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which provided incentives (chiefly tax breaks) to reduce national consumption of energy and to encourage a wide range of alternative energy sources.[156][157] It also resulted in a net tax increase on oil companies.[158]

Obama and other Senators introduced the BioFuels Security Act in 2006. "It's time for Congress to realize what farmers in America's heartland have known all along that we have the capacity and ingenuity to decrease our dependence on foreign oil by growing our own fuel," Obama said.[159] In a May 2006 letter to President George W. Bush, he joined four other midwest farming state Senators in calling for the preservation of a $0.54-per-gallon tariff on imported ethanol.[160]

In an interview with NBC's Tim Russert on May 4, 2008, Obama said, "...we've got a serious food problem around the world. We've got rising food prices here in the United States." "There's no doubt that biofuels may be contributing to it. And what I've said is, my top priority is making sure that people are able to get enough to eat. And if it turns out that we've got to make changes in our ethanol policy to help people get something to eat, then that's got to be the step we take."[161]

On the issue of nuclear power, in 2005, Obama stated, "... as Congress considers policies to address air quality and the deleterious effects of carbon emissions on the global ecosystem, it is reasonable and realistic for nuclear power to remain on the table for consideration. Illinois has 11 nuclear power plants the most of any State in the country and nuclear power provides more than half of Illinois's electricity needs."[162] Regarding McCain's plans for 45 new nuclear power plants, Obama said that it's not serious, it's not new, it's not the kind of energy policy that will give families the relief they need.[163] Obama declared himself flatly opposed to building the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository in Nevada.[164] Furthermore, he opposes new nuclear plants until the problems of nuclear waste storage, safety and cost can be addressed.[165]

In 2006, in response to Illinois residents' concerns about unreported radioactive leaks by Exelon Corporation, Obama introduced a Senate bill to effect mandatory disclosure of such leaks. In 2008, The New York Times, which had endorsed Hillary Clinton,[166] charged that, in revising his bill, Obama had "removed language mandating prompt reporting and simply offered guidance to regulators".[167] In response, the Obama campaign cited a National Journal analysis of the revised bill, showing that "Obama's bill would require that any leak of radioactive materials exceeding the levels set by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the EPA be reported to state and local authorities, and to the NRC within 24 hours."[168]

U.S. Senator Barack Obama

Obama and other Senators introduced a bill in 2007 to promote the development of commercially viable plug-in hybrids and other electric-drive vehicles in order to shift away from petroleum fuels and "toward much cleaner and cheaper electricity for transportation".[169] Similar legislation is now in effect in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.[170] Obama proposes that the U.S. Government invest in such developments using revenue generated from an auction-based cap-and-trade or emissions trading program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.[171]

Obama stresses innovation as a means to improve energy efficiency, calling for a 50% improvement by 2030. He has called for a 50 miles per US gallon (4.7L/100km; 60mpg?imp) rule, proposing tax credits to automakers in order to ease the transition.

He opposes drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

On June 22, 2008 Obama proposed tightening regulations on oil speculators in an effort to ease record high prices of oil.[172] "My plan fully closes the Enron loophole and restores common-sense regulation," Obama said.[173]

Health care

See also: Health care reform in the United States and Health care reform in the United States presidential election, 2008 Obama supporters at a campaign rally in Austin, Texas, on February 23, 2007. President Obama said he supports universal health care and programs to increase access to education.[174]

On January 24, 2007 Obama spoke about his position on health care at Families USA, a health care advocacy group. Obama said, "The time has come for universal health care in America [...] I am absolutely determined that by the end of the first term of the next president, we should have universal health care in this country." Obama went on to say that he believed that it was wrong that forty-seven million Americans are uninsured, noting that taxpayers already pay over $15 billion annually to care for the uninsured.[175] Obama cites cost as the reason so many Americans are without health insurance.[176] Obama's health care plan includes implementing guaranteed eligibility for affordable health care for all Americans, paid for by insurance reform, reducing costs, removing patent protection for pharmaceuticals, and required employer contributions.[177] He would provide for mandatory health care insurance for children.

In July 2008 The New York Times reported that Senator Obama has promised to "bring down premiums by $2,500 for the typical family." His advisers have said that the $2,500 premium reduction includes, in addition to direct premium savings, the average family's share of the reduction in employer paid health insurance premiums and the reduction in the cost of government health programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.[178]

The Associated Press reported in September 2008 that Senator Obama was proposing a National Health Insurance Exchange that would include both private insurance plans and a Medicare-like government run option. Coverage would be guaranteed regardless of health status, and premiums would not vary based on health status either. The campaign estimates the cost of the program at $60 billion annually. The plan requires that parents cover their children, but does not require adults to buy insurance.[179]

According to an October 26, 2008 article in the New York Times, Obama is considering a new payroll tax on large and medium employers who do not already provide their employees with health insurance, and this tax would be used to pay for health care for uninsured people, but Obama has not cited the specific percentage of payroll that the tax would be, or how small a number of employees the employer would have to have in order to be exempt from the tax.[180]

Homes, mortgages, mortgage crisis, and real estate industry

Obama voted for the $700 billion Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008.[181]

Obama introduced the Stop Fraud Act[182] to increase penalties for mortgage fraud by mortgage brokers and real estate brokers and to provide more protections for low-income homebuyers.

In regards to capital gains on house sales, Obama says he favors increasing capital gains tax above the present 15% rate to 20% for families whose income is above $250,000.[183]

Views related to income inequality

Corporate governance

On April 20, 2007, Obama introduced a bill in the Senate (Shareholder Vote on Executive Compensation Act S. 1181) requiring public companies to give shareholders an annual nonbinding vote on executive compensation, popularly called "Say on pay." A companion bill introduced by Rep. Barney Frank passed the House the same day.[184] Several corporations voluntarily have begun to give shareholders such a vote because of concerns about excessive CEO salaries.

Labor rights

Obama supports the Employee Free Choice Act, a bill that adds penalties for labor violations and which would circumvent the secret ballot requirement to organize a union. Obama promises to sign the EFCA into law.[185] He is also a co-sponsor of the "Re-empowerment of Skilled and Professional Employees and Construction Tradesworkers" or RESPECT act (S. 969) that aims to overturn the National Labor Relations Board's "Kentucky River" 532 U.S. 706 (2001) decision that redefined many employees lacking the authority to hire, fire, or discipline, as "supervisors" who are not protected by federal labor laws.[186][187]

Minimum wage

Obama favored the increase in the federal minimum wage from $5.15 an hour to $7.25, and he voted to end the filibuster against a bill to accomplish that.[188][189] He favored raising it to $9.50 an hour by 2011, and then indexing it for inflation afterwards.[190] In his State of the Union speech in 2012, he hinted at proposing legislation to raise minimum wage rate to $9.00/hr sometime during his next term. In January 2014 he signed an executive order raising the minimum wage for federal "workers who are performing services or constructing buildings" to $10.10/hr and began garnering support for a bill to enact this change nationally. The change made to the federal worker minimum wage applies only to new contracts or contracts having their terms changed and takes effect beginning in 2015.[191][192]

In April 2014, the United States Senate debated the Minimum Wage Fairness Act (S. 1737; 113th Congress). The bill would amend the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA) to increase the federal minimum wage for employees to $10.10 per hour over the course of a two-year period.[193] The bill was strongly supported by President Barack Obama and many of the Democratic Senators, but strongly opposed by Republicans in the Senate and House.[194][195][196] Obama strongly supported increasing the minimum wage, giving speeches about it urging Congress to take action.[194] Obama argued that "if you pay people well, there's more money in everybody's pockets, and everybody does better."[194]

Equal pay

Obama favors the concept of equal pay (the abolition of wage differences between genders).[197] He has supported legislation designed to improve the effectiveness of the Equal Pay Act of 1963.[198] In 2007, the House of Representatives passed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which, according to the National Federation of Independent Business, would have allowed "employees to file charges of pay discrimination within 180 days of the last received paycheck affected by the alleged discriminatory decision."[199] The bill would have overturned the Supreme Court decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear. There the Court dismissed a woman's discrimination claim because she had filed it more than 180 days after the first affected paycheck. The bill died in a 2008 Senate vote in which Obama and other Democrats could not break a Republican filibuster.[200] In the 111th congress it was passed again, and Obama signed it on January 29, 2009.[201] The Trump adminstation has ended the Lilly Ledbetter fair pay act [202]

Education

During an October 2004 debate, Obama stated that he opposed the mainstream view on education.

In a July 2007 address to the National Education Association, Obama supported merit pay for teachers, to be based on standards to be developed "with teachers."[203] Obama also called for higher pay for teachers.[203] Obama's plan is estimated to cost $18 billion annually and was originally planned to be partially funded by delaying NASA's Constellation program for five years[204] but he has since reconsidered and stated that he will look for "an entirely different offset."[205] "We owe it to our children to invest in early-childhood education; and recruit an army of new teachers and give them better pay and more support; and finally decide that, in this global economy, the chance to get a college education should not be a privilege for the few, but a birthright of every American."[206] He also is against the teaching of intelligent design as science, but supports teaching theology.[207]

Obama has proposed the American Opportunity Tax Credit, which would provide a refundable tax credit for education in exchange for community service.[208]

Obama wants 5,000 failing schools to close, and then reopen with new principals and teachers.[209]

Network neutrality and government use of information technology

In a June 2006 podcast, Obama expressed support for telecommunications legislation to protect network neutrality on the Internet, saying: "It is because the Internet is a neutral platform that I can put out this podcast and transmit it over the Internet without having to go through any corporate media middleman. I can say what I want without censorship or without having to pay a special charge. But the big telephone and cable companies want to change the Internet as we know it."[210]

Obama reaffirmed his commitment to net neutrality at a meeting with Google employees in November 2007, at which he said, "once providers start to privilege some applications or web sites over others, then the smaller voices get squeezed out, and we all lose."[211] At the same event, Obama pledged to appoint a Chief Technology Officer to oversee the U.S. government's management of IT resources and promote wider access to government information and decision making.[212]

In a February 2014 official blog post titled "We The People Response: Reaffirming the White House's Commitment to Net Neutrality", the Obama administration, via Chief Technology Officer Todd Park, once again reaffirmed its commitment to net neutrality by stating, "Preserving an open Internet is vital not to just to the free flow of information, but also to promoting innovation and economic productivity.TheTrump administration has repealed net neutrality https://money.cnn.com/2017/12/14/technology/fcc-net-neutrality-vote/index.html

Taxation

See also: Buffett rule and Comparison of United States presidential candidates, 2008 Tax policy

Under Obama's plan, middle-class families would see their income taxes cut, with no family making less than $250,000 seeing an increase. In June 2008, Obama voted in favor of a budget that would raise the taxes on unmarried individuals with a taxable income of over $32,000 by pushing their tax bracket from 25% to 28%.[213] Obama has proposed a tax plan which includes tax credits to lower the amount of taxes paid. It is argued that the typical middle-class family would receive over $1,000 in tax relief, with tax payments that are 20% lower than they faced under President Ronald Reagan. According to the Tax Policy Center, the Obama plan provides three times as much tax relief for middle-class families as the McCain plan.[214] Obama's plan includes a temporary "Making Work Pay" program, which gives a tax credit at 6.2% of earned income up to $400 for single workers (making less than $75,000/yr), and an $800 for married couples (making less than $150,000/yr), expiring at the end of 2010; this is claimed on Schedule M of Form 1040.[215] Families making more than $250,000 would pay either the same or lower income tax rates than they paid in the 1990s, leaving no family to pay higher income tax rates than they would have paid in the 1990s. For the wealthiest 2% of families, Obama plans to reverse a portion of the tax cuts they have received over the past eight years. Dividend rates would be 39 percent lower than what President George W. Bush proposed in his 2001 tax cut.[214]

Obama's plan is to cut income taxes overall, which he states would reduce revenues to below the levels that prevailed under Ronald Reagan (less than 18.2 percent of GDP). Obama argues that his plan is a net tax cut, and that his tax relief for middle-class families is larger than the revenue raised by his tax changes for families over $250,000. Obama plans to pay for the tax changes while bringing down the budget deficit by cutting unnecessary spending.[214]

Speaking in November 2006 to members of Wake Up Wal-Mart, a union-backed campaign group, Obama said: "You need to pay your workers enough that they can actually not only shop at Wal-Mart, but ultimately send their kids to college and save for retirement." His tax plan is projected to bring in an additional $700 billion in taxes over the next 10 years.[216]

In The Audacity of Hope and the Blueprint for Change[217] Obama advocates responding to the "precarious budget situation" by eliminating "tax credits that have outlived their usefulness", closing corporate tax loopholes, and restoring the PAYGO policy that prohibits increases in federal spending without a way to compensate for the lost revenue.[218]

During an October 13, 2008 speech at Toledo, Ohio, Obama said that for the next two years, he favors a $3,000 tax credit to businesses for each new full-time employee whom they hire above the number in their current work force.[219]

For people with incomes above $250,000, Obama wants to reduce their charitable tax deduction from 35 cents for each dollar donated to 28 cents for each dollar donated, to match the level of deductions for people making less than $250,000.[220] In a press conference on March 24, 2009, Obama stated that he wanted to return to the rate that existed in the Reagan administration.[221] "There's very little evidence that this has a significant impact on charitable giving," said Obama. "I'll tell you what has a significant impact on charitable giving, is a financial crisis and an economy that's contracting. And so the most important thing that I can do for charitable giving is to fix the economy, to get banks lending again, to get businesses opening their doors again, to get people back to work again."[221] Thomas L. Hungerford of the Congressional Research Service has written that "allowing the tax cuts targeted to high income taxpayers to expire as scheduled could help reduce budget deficits in the short-term without stifling the economic recovery."[222]

Obama said he wanted to "look at raising the capital gains tax for purposes of fairness."[223]

Social Security

In response to a possible shortfall in Social Security funding, Obama has endorsed imposition of a new FICA tax on incomes above $250,000. Social Security has an income "cap" beyond which the payroll tax is not collected; in 2015 and 2016, the cap was $118,500.[224] Obama opposed Bush's proposal for privatization of Social Security.[225]

Lobbying and campaign finance reform

Obama has spoken out numerous times against the influence of lobbying in the United States.[226][227] He also co-sponsored legislation that limits lobbyists' influence by mandating that lawmakers pay full charter fare when flying on lobbyists' corporate jets.[228]

On January 24, 2007, in reference to his stated plan to take public financing should he procure the nomination, he said, "I think that for a time, the presidential public financing system works." On November 27, he said, "I will aggressively pursue an agreement with the Republican nominee to preserve a publicly financed general election," and on February 28, 2008, he wrote that he planned to "aggressively pursue" a publicly financed campaign, later promising to sit down with John McCain to ensure "a public system" of campaign financing is preserved.[229] On June 19, 2008, he opted out of public campaign financing and declared, "I support a robust system of public financing of elections (...) but the public financing of presidential elections as it exists today is broken."[230][231] Furthermore, he maintained that he would not take contributions from federal lobbyists and special interests during his 2008 presidential campaign.

According to his website, Obama would create an online database of lobbying reports, campaign finance filings and ethics records, and would create an independent watchdog agency to oversee congressional ethical violations.

Immigration

Obama supports a guest worker program,[232] and voted in favor of the Bush administration backed Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007. Obama has said that he "will not support any bill that does not provide [an] earned path to citizenship for the undocumented population."

Obama has said that he does not believe that the 12 million illegal immigrants should be deported. He said "It's not going to happen. We're not going to go round them up ... We should give them a pathway to citizenship."[233]

In September 2006, Obama voted for the Secure Fence Act, authorizing the construction of 700 miles (1,100km) of fencing along the United StatesMexico border.[234]

Obama has supported granting driver's licenses to illegal immigrants.[235]

In June 2007, Obama voted against declaring English as the official language of the federal government.[236]

In November 2007, Obama stated that, "We can go a long way toward meeting industry's need for skilled workers with Americans. Until we have achieved that, I will support a temporary increase in the H-1B visa program as a stopgap measure until we can reform our immigration system comprehensively."[236]

In July 2007, Obama said, "Find out how many senators appeared before an immigration rally last year. Who was talking the talk, and who walked the walk because I walkedI didn't run away from the issue, and I didn't just talk about it in front of Latino audiences."[237][238]

"I believe we must secure our borders, fix our broken immigration bureaucracy, and require the 12 million undocumented to get on a responsible path to citizenship. I will also increase the number of people we allow in the country legally to a level that unites families and meets the demand for jobs employers cannot fill" "I support comprehensive immigration reform that includes improving our visa programmes, including the H-1B programme, to attract some of the world's most talented people to America", Obama said in an interview with IANS in October 2008.[239]

On 25 November 2013, Ju Hong, a 24-year-old South Korean immigrant without legal documentation, shouted at Obama to use his executive power to stop deportation of illegal immigrants.[240] Obama said "If, in fact, I could solve all these problems without passing laws in Congress, then I would do so." "But we're also a nation of laws, that's part of our tradition," he continued. "And so the easy way out is to try to yell and pretend like I can do something by violating our laws. And what I'm proposing is the harder path, which is to use our democratic processes to achieve the same goal."[241][242][243][244][245]

Affirmative action

In reference to state ballot initiatives on affirmative action, Obama's spokesperson Candice Toliver said that "Senator Obama believes in a country in which opportunity is available to all Americans, regardless of race, gender or economic status. That's why he opposes these ballot initiatives, which would roll back opportunity for millions of Americans and cripple efforts to break down historic barriers to the progress of qualified women and minorities."[246][247]

Obama writes in his most recent book, The Audacity of Hope: "Affirmative action programs, when properly structured, can open up opportunities otherwise closed to qualified minorities without diminishing opportunities for white students."[248] In July, Obama stated, "I am a strong supporter of affirmative action when properly structured so that it is not just a quota, but it is acknowledging and taking into account some of the hardships and difficulties that communities of color may have experienced, continue to experience, and it also speaks to the value of diversity in all walks of American life."[249] He has indicated support for affirmative action based on class, not just race, (q.v. redistributive change) in comments where he said that his daughters should be treated by prospective colleges and employers as people that grew up with a privileged background.[250] The Trump administration has reversed the Obama era affirmative action policies.[251]

Trade

Barack Obama made critical statements about the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) during the Democratic primaries, calling the trade agreement "devastating" and "a big mistake".[252] In February 2008, a Canadian diplomatic memo[253] surfaced, which alleged that Obama's economic advisor Austan Goolsbee had met with Canadian consular officials in Chicago and told them to disregard Obama's campaign rhetoric regarding NAFTA, a charge the Obama campaign later denied (see Barack Obama presidential primary campaign, 2008#NAFTA controversy).[252] Obama also noted that free trade comes with its own costs: he believes the displacement of Mexican farmers by more efficient American counterparts has led to increased immigration to the United States from that country.[252]

Faith based programs

See also: White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships

In July 2008, after winning the primary, Obama said that he wants to expand federal funding of faith-based programs and establish a "Council for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships". He specified that, under his plan, federal money given to places of worship could only be used on secular programs. In particular, he mentioned, on July 1 in Zanesville, Ohio, that "support for social services to the poor and the needy have consistently been underfunded". He went on to praise President Bush's efforts, but contended that the current administration's plan never managed to "rally the armies of compassion."[254][255]

Government waste

On September 22, 2008, Obama said, "I am not a Democrat who believes that we can or should defend every government program just because it's there... We will fire government managers who aren't getting results, we will cut funding for programs that are wasting your money and we will use technology and lessons from the private sector to improve efficiency across every level of government... The only way we can do all this without leaving our children with an even larger debt is if Washington starts taking responsibility for every dime that it spends."[256]

Early in the Obama administration, some became aware of a program that provided free cellphones and service to the poor, concluding it was a new Obama program and branded the phenomenon as "Obamaphones." This became an ongoing meme during the Obama presidency, supposedly representing how Obama was creating a welfare state. However, the cellphone program had begun in 2008, as an extension of the Universal Service Fund dating back to at least 1996, and is not funded with taxpayer money.[257]

See also

  • Comparison of United States presidential candidates, 2008
  • List of Barack Obama presidential campaign endorsements, 2008
  • Political positions of Joe Biden

References

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"Obama Says Charitable Giving Not Affected By Tax Increases". CBS News. Retrieved 2009-03-25. ^ Hungerford, Thomas L. R41393 The Bush Tax Cuts and the Economy Congressional Research Service, 3 September 2010 ^ Transcript Democratic Debate in Philadelphia, The New York Times, April 16, 2008 ^ "Social Security AdministrationBenefits Planner: Maximum Taxable Earnings (19372016)". Retrieved 2016-05-01. ^ Babington, Charles (September 6, 2008), "Obama hits McCain on Social Security" ( Scholar search), The Washington Post ^ "Sen. Barack Obama's remarks". Politico.com. 2007-12-27. Retrieved 2008-01-04. ^ Tapper, Jake (2007-12-29). "Obama Ad Omits Lobbyist Reference". ABC News. Retrieved 2008-01-04. ^ Weixel, Nathaniel (2007-11-15). "Feingold, Obama go after corporate jet travel". TheHill.com. Retrieved 2008-05-24. ^ "Politico's guide to Obama's opt-out". Retrieved 8 July 2018. ^ "Obama Opts Out of Public Campaign Finance System". Associated Press. 2008-06-19. Retrieved 2008-06-30. ^ "McCain attacks Obama for opting out of public financing". CNN. 2008-06-20. Retrieved 2008-06-30. ^ Floor Statement of Senator Barack Obama on Immigration Reform Archived 2008-12-06 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved on January 26, 2007 ^ "Sen. Obama at Joliet town hall - U.S. Senator Barack Obama". Archived from the original on 2008-06-12. Retrieved 8 July 2018. ^ "Washington Post". Archived from the original on September 30, 2012. ^ Carolyn Lochead (January 28, 2008). "Obama takes big risk on driver's license issue". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2008-03-11. ^ a b "Water, No Ice " Blog Archive " Obama vs. McCain Immigration". Archived from the original on January 4, 2009. ^ Oh-eight (D): Yucca Mountain politics First Read msnbc.com Archived June 21, 2008, at the Wayback Machine ^ "Obama's Divisive Immigration Policies". Archived from the original on 15 June 2008. Retrieved 8 July 2018. ^ India will be my top priority: Barack Obama Archived 2008-10-30 at the Wayback Machine, Express Buzz,October 23, 2008 ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-12-03. Retrieved 2013-11-26.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) ^ "Obama's immigration speech in deep-blue San Francisco interrupted by anti-deportation hecklers". 25 November 2013. Retrieved 8 July 2018. ^ News, ABC. "Video: Heckler Disrupts Obama's Speech With Minute-Long Rant". ABC News. Retrieved 8 July 2018. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-11-26. Retrieved 2013-11-26.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) ^ "Obama addresses heckler during speech on immigration". Retrieved 8 July 2018. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-04-02. Retrieved 2013-11-26.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) ^ Obama Is No 'Post-Racial' Candidate, The Wall Street Journal ^ Obama's Affirmative Action Test, Newsweek.com ^ Barack Obama has gotten past affirmative action. Have we?, By Dahlia Lithwick Slate Magazine ^ "Candidates oppose quotas, but offer no fix for affirmative action". CNN. July 28, 2008. Archived from the original on 2008-07-30. Retrieved 2008-07-29. ^ Obama shifts affirmative action rhetoric, By David Kuhn The Politico "Obama has called for government to 'craft' a policy 'in such a way where some of our children who are advantaged aren't getting more favorable treatment than a poor white kid who has struggled more.' ^ "Trump Administration Reverses Obama-Era Affirmative Action In Schools". NPR.org. ^ a b c chief, By Nina Easton, Washington bureau. "What Obama means for business - Jun. 23, 2008". money.cnn.com. Retrieved 8 July 2018. ^ Goolsbee, Austan. "Leaked Memo" (PDF). ABC News. 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Retrieved from "https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Economic_policy_of_the_Barack_Obama_administration&oldid=925009783"
barack obama economy 2012
A scorecard on the economy under Barack Obama

In the hotly contested presidential campaign between President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney there is one undisputed point: the central issue is the state of the American economy.

End of agreement.

Were the countrys economic troubles deeper than expected when Obama took office in January 2009? Were his ideas and actions effective in righting the nations economic ship? Are things getting better? If so, are they getting better fast enough?

From both parties, the political rhetoric will be contentious for the next five months and, by its very nature, oversimplified. But below the fury there are objective metrics as to how the economy has performed on Obamas watch and where it stands today.

PolitiFact.com, the independent fact-checking operation of the Tampa Bay Times, has produced a scorecard key economic measures to track where the economy stood a year before Obama took office, where it was when he assumed power and how it has trended through May 2012.

Weve gathered statistics for everything from corporate profits to the price of ground chuck. To help you see which ones are up or down, weve shaded most of the statistics from white (the most positive number) to dark (the least positive). We offer figures for 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 either an annual figure for the whole year or the monthly figure for January of that year. We also added a column for the most recent figures available.

Some analysis suggests the mixed record that most Americans feel:

Gasoline prices, the rate of poverty, food stamp use and the federal debt are worse today than when the president took office.

The unemployment rate, personal income and the stock market turned worse but are improving.

Corporate profits, mortgage rates and the level of consumer debt are better today.

But the point of the scorecard is for you, the voters and consumers of political speech, to have factual measures by which to judge what you hear. The perspective you bring to it is all yours.

About these charts

To help you see how the numbers trend, weve shaded the statistics from white (the most positive number) to dark (the least positive). We havent shaded the numbers for government jobs because of differing opinions over whether more government employment is helpful to the economy.

Income

2008 2009 2010 2011 January
2012 April/May
2012 Yearly GDP $13.2 T $12.7 T $13.1 T $13.3 T -- $13.5 T Disposable personal income per capita $33,229 $32,166 $32,481 $32,667 -- $32,677 Personal bankruptcies 1,074,225 1,412,838 1,536,799 1,362,847 -- -- Poverty rate 12.5% 13.2% 14.3% 15.1% -- -- People receiving food stamps -- 32 M 39 M 44 M 46 M 46 M

Homes

2008 2009 2010 2011 January
2012 April/May
2012 Median home sale price $232,400 $208,600 $218,200 $240,100 $221,700 $235,700 New homes sold in that month 44,000 24,000 24,000 21,000 23,000 33,000 Existing home sales, annualized 4.2 M 3.8 M 4.2 M 4.5 M 4.6 M 4.6 M Foreclosure starts 0.88% 1.08% 1.2% 1.27% 0.99% 0.96%

Business

2008 2009 2010 2011 January
2012 April/May
2012 Corporate profits $1.2 T $1.4 T $1.8 T $1.9 T -- -- Bank failures 25 140 157 92 61 -- Corporate bankruptcies 43,546 60,837 56,282 47,806 -- -- Industrial production 100.4 87.4 87.4 92.5 96.5 97.4 Consumer confidence 87.3 37.4 56.5 64.8 61.5 64.9 Dow Jones Industrial Average 13,044 9,035 10,584 11,671 12,397 12,393 Labor productivity 103 103 109 110 111 --

Footnotes

M indicates million and T indicates trillion.

Unemployment rate Unemployment rate for the civilian labor force, seasonally adjusted. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Monthly rate shown.

Broader unemployment rate "U-6" A broader unemployment measure than the basic unemployment rate. Includes total unemployed, plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force, plus total employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force, seasonally adjusted. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Monthly rate shown.

White unemployment Unemployment rate for the civilian labor force, seasonally adjusted, for whites. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Monthly rate shown.

Black unemployment Unemployment rate for the civilian labor force, seasonally adjusted, for blacks or African Americans. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Monthly rate shown.

Hispanic unemployment Unemployment rate for the civilian labor force, seasonally adjusted, for Hispanics or latinos. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Monthly rate shown.

Total private-sector jobs Total private-sector jobs, seasonally adjusted. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Monthly rate shown.

Total government jobs Total government jobs (federal, state, local), seasonally adjusted. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Monthly rate shown.

Median weeks unemployed Median weeks unemployed, 16 and older, seasonally adjusted. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Monthly rate shown.

Yearly gross domestic product Real gross gomestic product, seasonally adjusted and inflation adjusted (table 1.5.6). GDP means the value of all finished goods and services produced within a country's borders during a year. Bureau of Economic Analysis. 2008-2011 are annual amounts, 2012 is 1st quarter at an annual rate.

Disposable personal income per capita Disposable personal income is defined as personal income (including employment compensation, proprietor and rental income, interest and dividends, and government transfer payments) minus taxes and payments for social insurance programs. Measure is inflation-adjusted (table 2.1). Bureau of Economic Analysis. 2008-2011 are annual amounts, 2012 is 1st quarter at an annual rate.

Personal bankruptcies Non-business bankruptcy filings. American Bankruptcy Institute. Annual figures shown.

Poverty rate Percent of all people below poverty level. Poverty levels vary by year, and by such factors as size of family, number of adults and children in a household and the age of adults in the household. For a family of two adults and one child, for instance, the Census Bureau's poverty threshold is $18,106. Census Bureau. Annual rate shown.

People receiving food stamps Persons participating in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Agriculture Department. Monthly figures shown for January of each year, except for final column, which is February.

Median home sale price Median sales prices of new homes sold in the United States. Census Bureau. Monthly figures shown for January of each year, except for final column, which is April.

New homes sold in that month New homes sold in the United States, not seasonally adjusted. Census Bureau. Monthly figures shown for January of each year, except for final column, which is April.

Existing home sales, annualized Existing home sales. Courtesy National Association of Realtors. Monthly figures at an annualized rate.

Foreclosure starts Mortgage foreclosure starts as a percentage of loans outstanding. Courtesy Mortgage Bankers Association. Figures are for fourth quarter of prior year, except final column, which is first quarter of 2012.

Corporate profits Corporate profits with inventory valuation and capital consumption adjustments. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Annual amounts.

Bank failures Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Annual amounts, except for 2012, which is a projection based on 23 failures between Jan. 1, 2012, and May 18, 2012.

Industrial production Industrial Production Index, with 2007 level equal to 100, seasonally adjusted. Economagic.com. Monthly figures shown for January of each year, except for final column, which is April.

Consumer confidence Consumer confidence index, based on a random-sampling, national survey. Courtesy of the Conference Board. Figures for 2008 to 2012 are for January; final column is for May 2012.

Dow Jones Industrial Average Dow Jones Industrial Average close for the first day of the year after Jan. 1. Yahoo! Finance. Final column is close for May 31, 2012.

Labor productivity Business output per hour; index with 2005 equal to 100. Bureau of Labor Statistics . Index is for first quarter of each year shown.

Overall inflation Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) for prior 12 months, not seasonally adjusted. The CPI-U is a measure of the average change over time in the prices paid by urban consumers for a representative variety of consumer goods and services. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Based on the January figures for each year, except for the final column, which is based on the April 2012 figures.

Food and beverage inflation Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) for food and beverages for prior 12 months, not seasonally adjusted. This measures inflation in the portion of the goods used to calculate CPI-U that are either foods or beverages. Bureau of Labor Statistics . Based on the January figures for each year, except for the final column, which is based on the April 2012 figures.

White bread, ground chuck, milk, apples, sugar Data courtesy of the Food Institute, based on government data. Figures are for first quarter of the given year.

Gasoline prices U.S. retail gasoline prices for all grades and all formulations in dollars per gallon. Energy Information Administration. Data are for the first week of January in each year, except for final column, which is for the third week of May.

Residential natural gas per unit U.S. price of natural gas delivered to residential consumers, in dollars per thousand cubic feet. Energy Information Administration. Data are for the month of January in each year, except for the final column, which is for February 2012.

Personal saving rate Personal saving as a percentage of disposable personal income. Bureau of Economic Analysis. 2008-2011 are annual amounts, final column is 1st quarter 2012.

Outstanding credit card debt Revolving consumer credit outstanding, seasonally adjusted. Federal Reserve Board. January data for all years except for final column, which is March 2012.

Household debt rate Financial obligations as a percentage of disposable personal income; seasonally adjusted. Financial obligations include mortgages, consumer debt, automobile lease payments, rental payments on tenant-occupied property, homeowners' insurance, and property tax payments. Federal Reserve Board. Figures are for first quarter for 2008-2011; figure for 2012 is fourth quarter of 2011.

Mortgage rates Contract rate on 30-year, fixed-rate, conventional home mortgage commitments. Federal Reserve Board. Figures are for January in 2008-2012; final column is for April 2012.

Federal discretionary spending as a percent of GDP Office of Management and Budget. By fiscal year. 2012 figure is OMB estimate.

Federal mandatory spending as a percent of GDP Office of Management and Budget. By fiscal year. 2012 figure is OMB estimate.

Annual federal deficit Office of Management and Budget. By fiscal year. 2012 figure is OMB estimate.

Cumulative federal debt Publicly held debt, cumulative. Bureau of the Public Debt. Amount of debt outstanding on Jan. 1.



Presidency of Barack Obama
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For a chronological guide to this subject, see Timeline of the presidency of Barack Obama.

President Barack Obama.jpgPresidency of Barack ObamaJanuary 20, 2009 January 20, 2017PresidentBarack ObamaCabinetSee listPartyDemocraticElection2008, 2012SeatWhite House < George W. Bush Donald Trump > Seal of the President of the United States.svgSeal of the PresidentOfficial website

The presidency of Barack Obama began at noon EST on January 20, 2009, when Barack Obama was inaugurated as the 44th President of the United States, and ended on January 20, 2017. Obama, a Democrat from Illinois, took office following a decisive victory over Republican John McCain in the 2008 presidential election. Four years later, in the 2012 election, he defeated Republican Mitt Romney to win re-election. He was the first African American president, the first multiracial president, the first non-white president, and the first president to have been born in Hawaii. Obama was succeeded by Republican Donald Trump, who won the 2016 presidential election.

Obama's first-term actions addressed the global financial crisis and included a major stimulus package, a partial extension of the Bush tax cuts, legislation to reform health care, a major financial regulation reform bill, and the end of a major US military presence in Iraq. Obama also appointed Supreme Court Justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, the latter of whom became the first Hispanic American on the Supreme Court. Democrats controlled both houses of Congress until Republicans won a majority in the House of Representatives in the 2010 elections. Following the elections, Obama and Congressional Republicans engaged in a protracted stand-off over government spending levels and the debt ceiling. The Obama administration's policy against terrorism downplayed Bush's counterinsurgency model, expanding air strikes and making extensive use of special forces and encouraging greater reliance on host-government militaries. The Obama administration orchestrated the military operation that resulted in the death of Osama bin Laden in 2011.

In his second term, Obama took steps to combat climate change, signing a major international climate agreement and an executive order to limit carbon emissions. Obama also presided over the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and other legislation passed in his first term, and he negotiated rapprochements with Iran and Cuba. The number of American soldiers in Afghanistan fell dramatically during Obama's second term, though U.S. soldiers remained in Afghanistan throughout Obama's presidency and continue to as of 2019. Republicans took control of the Senate after the 2014 elections, and Obama continued to grapple with Congressional Republicans over government spending, immigration, judicial nominations, and other issues.

Major acts and legislation

Economic policy actions

  • Responding to the Great Recession
    • American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
    • Automotive industry bailout
  • Wall Street reform
    • Credit CARD Act of 2009
    • DoddFrank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act
  • Taxation and spending
    • Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010
    • Budget Control Act of 2011
    • American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012
    • Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015
  • 2013 debt ceiling crisis and government shutdown
    • Continuing Appropriations Act, 2014
    • Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013

Other domestic policy actions

  • Healthcare reform
    • Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
    • Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010
  • Education
    • Race to the Top competitive grant program
    • Every Student Succeeds Act
  • Climate change
    • Clean Power Plan
  • Immigration policy
    • Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals
    • Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (blocked by Supreme Court)
  • Social policy
    • Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act
    • Matthew Shepard Act
    • Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010
  • Intelligence and surveillance policy
    • Patriot Act extension (20112015)
    • USA Freedom Act
Timeline Congress Year 111th[1] 2009 2010 112th 2011 2012 113th 2013 2014 114th 2015 2016 115th[2] 2017

Foreign policy actions

  • Free trade agreements
    • United StatesColombia Free Trade Agreement
    • PanamaUnited States Trade Promotion Agreement
    • South Korea-United States Free Trade Agreement
    • Trans-Pacific Partnership (signed but not ratified)
  • Arms control
    • New START
  • Climate change
    • Paris Agreement
  • Iraq
    • Withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq
    • American-led intervention in Iraq (2014present)
  • Afghanistan
    • War in Afghanistan (2001present)
    • Partial withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan
  • Rapprochement with Cuba and Iran
    • Cuban thaw
    • Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with Iran
  • Other military operations
    • Drone strikes in Pakistan
    • 2011 military intervention in Libya
    • Death of Osama bin Laden
    • Military intervention against ISIL

Supreme Court nominations

  • Sonia Sotomayor
  • Elena Kagan
  • Merrick Garland (not confirmed)

2008 presidential election

Main articles: Barack Obama presidential campaign, 2008 and United States elections, 2008 Obama defeated Republican John McCain in the 2008 presidential election.

After winning election to represent the state of Illinois in the Senate in 2004, Obama announced that he would run for president in February 2007.[1] In the 2008 Democratic primary, Obama faced Senator and former First Lady Hillary Clinton. Several other candidates, including Senator Joe Biden of Delaware and former Senator John Edwards, also ran for the nomination, but these candidates dropped out after the initial primaries. In June, on the day of the final primaries, Obama clinched the nomination by winning a majority of the delegates, including both pledged delegates and superdelegates.[2] Obama and Biden, whom Obama selected as his running mate, were nominated as the Democratic ticket at the August 2008 Democratic National Convention.

With Republican President George W. Bush term limited, the Republicans nominated Senator John McCain of Arizona for the presidency. In the general election, Obama defeated McCain, taking 52.9% of the popular vote and 365 of the 538 electoral votes. In the Congressional elections, Democrats added to their majorities in both houses of Congress, and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid both remained in their posts. Republicans John Boehner and Mitch McConnell continued to serve as House Minority Leader and Senate Minority Leader, respectively.

Transition period and inauguration

Main articles: Presidential transition of Barack Obama and First inauguration of Barack Obama

The presidential transition period began following Obama's election to the presidency in November 2008, though Obama had chosen Chris Lu to begin planning for the transition in May 2008.[3] John Podesta, Valerie Jarrett, and Pete Rouse co-chaired the Obama-Biden Transition Project. During the transition period, Obama announced nominations for his Cabinet and administration. In November 2008, Congressman Rahm Emanuel accepted Obama's offer to serve as White House Chief of Staff.[4] Obama was inaugurated on January 20, 2009, succeeding George W. Bush. Obama officially assumed the presidency at 12:00 pm, EST,[5] and completed the oath of office at 12:05pm, EST. He delivered his inaugural address immediately following his oath.[6] Obama's transition team was highly complimentary of the Bush administration's outgoing transition team, particularly with regards to national security, and some elements of the Bush-Obama transition were later codified into law.[3]

Administration

US Cabinet official group photo July 26, 2012.jpgThe Obama CabinetOfficeNameTermPresidentBarack Obama20092017Vice PresidentJoe Biden20092017Secretary of StateHillary Clinton20092013John Kerry20132017Secretary of TreasuryTim Geithner20092013Jack Lew20132017Secretary of DefenseBob Gates*20062011Leon Panetta20112013Chuck Hagel20132015Ash Carter20152017Attorney GeneralEric Holder20092015Loretta Lynch20152017Secretary of the InteriorKen Salazar20092013Sally Jewell20132017Secretary of AgricultureTom Vilsack20092017Secretary of CommerceGary Locke20092011John Bryson20112012Penny Pritzker20132017Secretary of LaborHilda Solis20092013Thomas Perez20132017Secretary of Health and
Human ServicesKathleen Sebelius20092014Sylvia Burwell20142017Secretary of EducationArne Duncan20092016John King20162017Secretary of Housing and
Urban DevelopmentShaun Donovan20092014Julian Castro20142017Secretary of TransportationRay LaHood20092013Anthony Foxx20132017Secretary of EnergySteven Chu20092013Ernest Moniz20132017Secretary of Veterans AffairsEric Shinseki20092014Bob McDonald20142017Secretary of Homeland SecurityJanet Napolitano20092013Jeh Johnson20132017Chief of StaffRahm Emanuel20092010William Daley20112012Jack Lew20122013Denis McDonough20132017Administrator of the
Environmental Protection AgencyLisa Jackson20092013Gina McCarthy20132017Director of the Office of
Management and BudgetPeter Orszag20092010Jack Lew20102012Sylvia Burwell20132014Shaun Donovan20142017Ambassador to the United NationsSusan Rice20092013Samantha Power20132017United States Trade RepresentativeRon Kirk20092013Michael Froman20132017Chair of the
Council of Economic AdvisersChristina Romer20092010Austan Goolsbee20102011Alan Krueger20112013Jason Furman20132017Administrator of the
Small Business AdministrationKaren Mills**20092013Maria Contreras-Sweet20142017*Retained from previous administration
**Elevated to cabinet-level in January 2012

Cabinet appointees

Main article: Confirmations of Barack Obama's Cabinet

Following his inauguration, Obama and the Senate worked to confirm his nominees to the United States Cabinet. Three Cabinet-level officers did not require confirmation: Vice President Joe Biden, who Obama had chosen as his running mate at the 2008 Democratic National Convention, Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, and Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who Obama chose to retain from the previous administration.[7] An early list of suggestions came from Michael Froman, then an executive at Citigroup.[8] Obama described his Cabinet choices as a "team of rivals," and Obama chose several prominent public officials for Cabinet positions, including former Democratic primary rival Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State.[9] Obama nominated several former Clinton administration officials to the Cabinet and to other positions.[10] On April 28, 2009, the Senate confirmed former Kansas governor Kathleen Sebelius as Secretary of Health and Human Services, completing Obama's initial Cabinet.[11] During Obama's presidency, four Republicans served in Obama's Cabinet: Ray Lahood as Secretary of Transportation, Robert McDonald as Secretary of Veteran's Affairs, and Gates and Chuck Hagel as Secretaries of Defense.

Notable non-Cabinet positions

See also: Independent agencies of the United States government and White House Office
  • Counselor to the President
    • Pete Rouse (20112014)
    • John Podesta (20142015)
  • Senior Advisor to the President
    • Valerie Jarrett (20092017)
    • Pete Rouse (20092010)
    • David Axelrod (20092011)
    • David Plouffe (20112013)
    • Daniel Pfeiffer (20132015)
    • Brian Deese (20152017)
    • Shailagh Murray (20152017)
  • White House Deputy Chief of Staff
    • Jim Messina 20092011
    • Mona Sutphen (20092011)
    • Nancy-Ann DeParle (20112013)
    • Alyssa Mastromonaco (20112014)
    • Mark B. Childress (20122014)
    • Rob Nabors (20132015)
    • Anita Decker Breckenridge (20142017)
    • Kristie Canegallo (20142017)
  • White House Press Secretary
    • Robert Gibbs (20092011)
    • Jay Carney (20112014)
    • Josh Earnest (20142017)
  • White House Communications Director
    • Ellen Moran (2009)
    • Anita Dunn (2009)
    • Daniel Pfeiffer (20092013)
    • Jennifer Palmieri (20132015)
    • Jen Psaki (20152017)
  • White House Counsel
    • Greg Craig (20092010)
    • Bob Bauer (20102011)
    • Kathryn Ruemmler (20112014)
    • Neil Eggleston (20142017)

Security and international affairs

  • Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
    • James L. Jones (20092011)
    • Thomas E. Donilon (20112013)
    • Susan Rice (20132017)
  • Special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan
    • Richard Holbrooke (20092010)
    • Marc Grossman (20112012)
    • James Dobbins (20132014)
    • Daniel F. Feldman (20142017)
  • Special envoy to the Middle East
    • George J. Mitchell (20092011)
    • David Hale (20112013)
    • Martin Indyk (20132014)
    • Frank Lowenstein (20142017)
  • Director of National Intelligence
    • Dennis C. Blair (20092010)
    • David C. Gompert (acting, 2010)
    • James R. Clapper (20102017)
  • Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation
    • Robert Mueller (20012013)
    • James Comey (20132017)
  • Director of the Central Intelligence Agency
    • Leon Panetta (20092011)
    • Michael Morell (acting, 2011)
    • David Petraeus (20112012)
    • Michael Morell (acting, 2013)
    • John O. Brennan (20132017)

Economic affairs

  • Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers
    • Christina Romer (20092010)
    • Austan Goolsbee (20102011)
    • Alan Krueger (20112013)
    • Jason Furman (20132017)
  • Federal Reserve Board of Governors
    • Ben Bernanke, Chair (20062014)
    • Daniel Tarullo (2009present)
    • Janet Yellen (2010present), Chair (20142018)
    • Sarah Bloom Raskin (20102014)
    • Jerome Powell (2012present)
    • Jeremy C. Stein (20122014)
    • Stanley Fischer (2014present)
    • Lael Brainard (2014resent)
  • Chair of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
    • Sheila Bair (20062011)
    • Martin J. Gruenberg (2011present)
  • Chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission
    • Mary Schapiro (20092012)
    • Elisse B. Walter (20122013)
    • Mary Jo White (20132017)
  • Assistant to the President for Economic Policy and
    Director of National Economic Council
    • Lawrence Summers (20092010)
    • Gene Sperling (20112014)
    • Jeffrey Zients (20142017)
  • Chair of the Economic Recovery Advisory Board
    • Paul Volcker (20092011)
    • Replaced by Council on Jobs and Competitiveness in 2011
  • Chairperson of the Council on Jobs and Competitiveness
    • Jeffrey R. Immelt (20112017)

Appointed by President Bush
Originally appointed by President Bush, reappointed by President Obama

Judicial nominees

United States Supreme Court

Main article: Barack Obama Supreme Court candidates Obama and Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor

There were three vacancies on the Supreme Court of the United States during Obama's tenure, but Obama made only two successful Supreme court appointments. During the 111th Congress, when Democrats held a majority in the Senate, Obama successfully nominated two Supreme Court Justices:

  • Sonia Sotomayor, replacing David Souter 2009
  • Elena Kagan, replacing John Paul Stevens 2010

Justice Antonin Scalia died in February 2016, during the 114th Congress, which had a Republican majority in the Senate. In March 2016, Obama nominated Chief Judge Merrick Garland of the D.C. Circuit to fill Scalia's seat.[12] However, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Judiciary Committee Chair Chuck Grassley, and other Senate Republicans argued that Supreme Court nominations should not be made during a presidential election year, and that the winner of the 2016 presidential election should instead appoint Scalia's replacement.[12][13] Garland's nomination remained before the Senate for longer than any other Supreme Court nomination in history,[14] and the nomination expired with the end of the 114th Congress.[15] President Donald Trump later nominated Neil Gorsuch to Scalia's former seat on the Supreme Court, and Gorsuch was confirmed by the Senate in April 2017.

Other courts

Further information: List of federal judges appointed by Barack Obama and Barack Obama judicial appointment controversies Article III judicial appointments[16] Clinton Bush Obama Supreme Court 2 2 2 Appellate courts 62 61 49 District courts 306 263 270 Other courts 9 4 10

Obama's presidency saw the continuation of battles between both parties over the confirmation of judicial nominees. Democrats continually accused Republicans of stalling nominees throughout Obama's tenure.[17] After several nomination battles, Senate Democrats in 2013 reformed the use of the filibuster so that it could no longer be used on executive or judicial nominations (excluding the Supreme Court).[18] Republicans took over the Senate after the 2014 elections, giving them the power to block any judicial nominee,[19] and the 114th Congress confirmed just 20 judicial nominees, the lowest number of confirmations since the 82nd Congress.[20] Obama's judicial nominees were significantly more diverse than those of previous administrations, with more appointments going to women and minorities.[17]

First 100 days

Main article: First 100 days of Barack Obama's presidency

Within minutes of taking the oath of office on January 20, Obama's Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel, issued an order suspending last-minute regulations and executive orders signed by outgoing President George W. Bush.[21] Some of the first actions of Obama's presidency focused on reversing measures taken by the Bush administration following the September 11 attacks.[22] In his first week in office, Obama signed Executive Order 13492 suspending all ongoing proceedings of the Guantanamo military commissions and ordering the Guantanamo detention facility to be shut down within the year.[23] Another order, Executive Order 13491, banned torture and other coercive techniques, such as waterboarding.[24] Obama also issued an executive order placing tighter restrictions on lobbying in the White House,[25] and rescinded the Mexico City Policy, which banned federal grants to international groups that provide abortion services or counseling.[26]

On January 29, Obama signed a bill for the first time in his presidency; the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 revised the statute of limitations for filing pay discrimination lawsuits.[27] On February 3, he signed the Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (CHIP), expanding CHIP's health care coverage from 7 million children to 11 million children.[28] On March 9, 2009, Obama lifted restrictions on federal funding of embryonic stem cell research.[29] Obama stated that, like Bush, he would employ signing statements if he deems a portion of a bill to be unconstitutional,[30] and he subsequently issued several signing statements.[31] Obama also signed the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009, which added 2million acres (8,100km2) of land to the National Wilderness Preservation System,[32] as well as a law raising the cigarette pack tax by 62cents (equivalent to $0.72 in 2018).[33]

Perhaps the most important action of Obama's first 100 days was the passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to address the Great Recession. After much debate, ARRA was passed by both the House and Senate on February 13, 2009. Originally intended to be a bipartisan bill, Congressional passage of the bill relied largely on Democratic votes, though three Republican Senators did vote for it.[34] The lack of Republican support for the bill, and the inability of Democrats to win that support, foreshadowed the gridlock and partisanship that continued throughout Obama's presidency.[34][35][36] The $787 billion bill combined tax breaks with spending on infrastructure projects, extension of welfare benefits, and education.[37][38]

Domestic affairs

See also: Barack Obama social policy

Health care reform

See also: Health care reform in the United States and Health care reforms proposed during the Obama administration Major votes in the 111th Congress[39] Senate House Bill/Treaty Dem. Rep. Dem. Rep. ARRA 580 337 24411 0177 ACA 600 039 21934 0178 D-F 571 335 23419 3173 ACES No vote 21144 8168 DADTRA 570 831 23515 15160 DREAM 525 336 20838 8160 New START 580 1326 No vote (treaty) 2010 TA 4414 375 139112 13836

Once the stimulus bill was enacted in February 2009, health care reform became Obama's top domestic priority, and the 111th Congress passed a major bill that eventually became widely known as "Obamacare." Health care reform had long been a top priority of the Democratic Party, and Democrats were eager to implement a new plan that would lower costs and increase coverage.[40] In contrast to Bill Clinton's 1993 plan to reform health care, Obama adopted a strategy of letting Congress drive the process, with the House and Senate writing their own bills.[41] In the Senate, a bipartisan group of Senators on the Finance Committee known as the Gang of Six began meeting with the hope of creating a bipartisan healthcare reform bill,[42] though the Republican Senators involved with the crafting of the bill ultimately came to oppose it.[41] In November 2009, the House passed the Affordable Health Care for America Act on a 220-215 vote, with only one Republican voting for the bill.[43] In December 2009, the Senate passed its own health care reform bill, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA or ACA), on a party-line, 60-39 vote.[44] Both bills expanded Medicaid and provided health care subsidies, while establishing an individual mandate, health insurance exchanges, and a ban on denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions.[45] However, the House bill included a tax increase on families making more than $1 million per year and a public health insurance option, while the Senate plan included an excise tax on high-cost health plans.[45]

The 2010 Massachusetts Senate special election victory of Scott Brown seriously imperiled the prospects of a health care reform bill, as Democrats lost their 60-seat Senate super-majority.[46][47] The White House and Speaker Nancy Pelosi engaged in an extensive campaign to convince both centrists and liberals in the House to pass the Senate's health care bill, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.[48] In March 2010, after Obama announced an executive order reinforcing the current law against spending federal funds for elective abortion services,[49] the House passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.[50] The bill, which had passed the Senate in December 2009, did not receive a single Republican vote in either house.[50] On March 23, 2010, President Obama signed the PPACA into law.[51] The New York Times described the PPACA as "the most expansive social legislation enacted in decades,"[51] while the Washington Post noted that it was the biggest expansion of health insurance coverage since the creation of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965.[50] Both houses of Congress also passed a reconciliation measure to make significant changes and corrections to the PPACA; this second bill was signed into law on March 30, 2010.[52][53] The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act became widely known as the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or "Obamacare."[54]

Percentage of Individuals in the United States without Health Insurance, 19632015 (Source: JAMA)[55]

The Affordable Care Act faced considerable challenges and opposition after its passage, and Republicans continually attempted to repeal the law.[56] The law also survived two major challenges that went to the Supreme Court.[57] In National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, a 5-4 majority upheld the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, though it made state Medicaid expansion voluntary. In King v. Burwell, a 6-3 majority allowed the use of tax credits in state-operated exchanges. The October 2013 launch of HealthCare.gov, a health insurance exchange website created under the provisions of the ACA, was widely criticized,[58] though many of the problems were fixed by the end of the year.[59] The number of uninsured Americans dropped from 20.2% of the population in 2010 to 13.3% of the population in 2015,[60] though Republicans continued to oppose Obamacare as an unwelcome expansion of government.[61] Many liberals continued to push for a single-payer healthcare system or a public option,[48] and Obama endorsed the latter proposal, as well as an expansion of health insurance tax credits, in 2016.[62]

Wall Street reform

See also: Banking in the United States

Risky practices among the major financial institutions on Wall Street were widely seen as contributing to the subprime mortgage crisis, the financial crisis of 200708, and the subsequent Great Recession, so Obama made Wall Street reform a priority in his first term.[63] On July 21, 2010, Obama signed the DoddFrank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, the largest financial regulatory overhaul since the New Deal.[64] The act increased regulation and reporting requirements on derivatives (particularly credit default swaps), and took steps to limit systemic risks to the US economy with policies such as higher capital requirements, the creation of the Orderly Liquidation Authority to help wind down large, failing financial institutions, and the creation of the Financial Stability Oversight Council to monitor systemic risks.[65] Dodd-Frank also established the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which was charged with protecting consumers against abusive financial practices.[66] On signing the bill, Obama stated that the bill would "empower consumers and investors," "bring the shadowy deals that caused the crisis to the light of day," and "put a stop to taxpayer bailouts once and for all."[67] Some liberals were disappointed that the law did not break up the country's largest banks or reinstate the Glass-Steagall Act, while many conservatives criticized the bill as a government overreach that could make the country less competitive.[67] Under the bill, the Federal Reserve and other regulatory agencies were required to propose and implement several new regulatory rules, and battles over these rules continued throughout Obama's presidency.[68] Obama called for further Wall Street reform after the passage of Dodd-Frank, saying that banks should have a smaller role in the economy and less incentive to make risky trades.[69] Obama also signed the Credit CARD Act of 2009, which created new rules for credit card companies.[70]

Climate change and the environment

See also: Environmental policy of the United States and Marine policy of the Barack Obama administration

During his presidency, Obama described global warming as the greatest long-term threat facing the world.[71] Obama took several steps to combat global warming, but was unable to pass a major bill addressing the issue, in part because many Republicans and some Democrats questioned whether global warming is occurring and whether human activity contributes to it.[72] Following his inauguration, Obama asked that Congress pass a bill to put a cap on domestic carbon emissions.[73] After the House passed the American Clean Energy and Security Act in 2009, Obama sought to convince the Senate to pass the bill as well.[74] The legislation would have required the US to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent by 2020 and by 83 percent by the middle of the 21st century.[74] However, the bill was strongly opposed by Republicans and neither it nor a separate proposed bipartisan compromise[73] ever came up for a vote in the Senate.[75] In 2013, Obama announced that he would bypass Congress by ordering the EPA to implement new carbon emissions limits.[76] The Clean Power Plan, unveiled in 2015, seeks to reduce US greenhouse gas emissions by 26 to 28 percent by 2025.[77] Obama also imposed regulations on soot, sulfur, and mercury that encouraged a transition away from coal as an energy source, but the falling price of wind, solar, and natural gas energy sources also contributed to coal's decline.[78] Obama encouraged this successful transition away from coal in large part due to the fact that coal emits more carbon than other sources of power, including natural gas.[78]

Obama's campaign to fight global warming found more success at the international level than in Congress. Obama attended the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference, which drafted the non-binding Copenhagen Accord as a successor to the Kyoto Protocol. The deal provided for the monitoring of carbon emissions among developing countries, but it did not include Obama's proposal to commit to cutting greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2050.[79] In 2014, Obama reached an agreement with China in which China pledged to reach peak carbon emission levels by 2030, while the US pledged to cut its emissions by 26-28 percent compared to its 2005 levels.[80] The deal provided momentum for a potential multilateral global warming agreement among the world's largest carbon emitters.[81] Many Republicans criticized Obama's climate goals as a potential drain on the economy.[81][82] At the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference, nearly every country in the world agreed to a landmark climate deal in which each nation committed lowering their greenhouse gas emissions.[83][84] The Paris Agreement created a universal accounting system for emissions, required each country to monitor its emissions, and required each country to create a plan to reduce its emissions.[83] Several climate negotiators noted that the US-China climate deal and the EPA's emission limits helped make the deal possible.[83] In 2016, the international community agreed to the Kigali accord, an amendment to the Montreal Protocol which sought to reduce the use of HFCs, organic compounds that contribute to global warming.[85]

From the beginning of his presidency, Obama took several actions to raise vehicle fuel efficiency in the United States. In 2009, Obama announced a plan to increase the Corporate Average Fuel Economy to 35 miles per US gallon (6.7l/100km)], a 40 percent increase from 2009 levels.[86] Both environmentalists and auto industry officials largely welcomed the move, as the plan raised national emission standards but provided the single national efficiency standard that auto industry officials group had long desired.[86] In 2012, Obama set even higher standards, mandating an average fuel efficiency of 54.5 miles per US gallon (4.32l/100km).[87] Obama also signed the "cash-for-clunkers" bill, which provided incentives to consumers to trade in older, less fuel-efficient cars for more efficient cars. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 provided $54 billion in funds to encourage domestic renewable energy production, make federal buildings more energy-efficient, improve the electricity grid, repair public housing, and weatherize modest-income homes.[88] Obama also promoted the use of plug-in electric vehicles, and 400,000 electric cars had been sold by the end of 2015.[89]

According to a report by The American Lung Association, there was a "major improvement" in air quality under Obama.[90]

Economy

Main article: Economic policy of the Barack Obama administration See also: Great Recession and Economy of the United States Economic indicators and federal finances under the Bush and Obama administrations
$ represent U.S. trillions of unadjusted dollars Year Unemploy-
ment[91] Real
GDP
Growth[92] U.S. Government[93][94] Receipts Outlays Deficit Debt ending Dec 31 (Calendar Year) Sep 30 (Fiscal Year)[3] 2007* 4.6% 1.9% $2.600 $2.788 ? $0.188 $5.1 2008* 5.8% -0.1% $2.465 $3.145 ? $0.680 $5.8 2009 9.3% -2.5% $2.045 $3.516 ? $1.471 $7.6 2010 9.6% 2.6% $2.206 $3.481 ? $1.275 $9.0 2011 8.9% 1.6% $2.326 $3.576 ? $1.250 $10.1 2012 8.1% 2.2% $2.509 $3.570 ? $1.061 $11.3 2013 7.4% 1.8% $2.825 $3.384 ? $0.560 $12.0 2014 6.2% 2.5% $3.093 $3.581 ? $0.488 $12.8 2015 5.3% 2.9% $3.275 $3.750 ? $0.478 $13.1 2016 4.9% 1.6% $3.275 $3.750 - $0.582 $14.2

Upon entering office, Obama focused on handling the global financial crisis and the subsequent Great Recession that had begun before his election,[95][96] which was generally regarded as the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.[97] On February 17, 2009, Obama signed into law a $787 billion economic stimulus bill that included spending for health care, infrastructure, education, various tax breaks and incentives, and direct assistance to individuals. The tax provisions of the law, including a $116 billion income tax cut, temporarily reduced taxes for 98 percent of taxpayers, bringing tax rates to their lowest levels in 60 years.[98][99] The Obama administration would later argue that the stimulus saved the United States from a "double-dip" recession.[100] Obama asked for a second major stimulus package in December 2009,[101] but no major second stimulus bill passed. Obama also launched a second bailout of US automakers, possibly saving General Motors and Chrysler from bankruptcy at the cost of $9.3 billion.[102] For homeowners in danger of defaulting on their mortgage due to the subprime mortgage crisis, Obama launched several programs, including HARP and HAMP.[103][104] Obama re-appointed Ben Bernanke as Chair of the Federal Reserve Board in 2009,[105] and appointed Janet Yellen to succeed Bernanke in 2013.[106] Short-term interest rates remained near zero for much of Obama's presidency, and the Federal Reserve did not raise interest rates during Obama's presidency until December 2015.[107]

There was a sustained increase of the U.S. unemployment rate during the early months of the administration,[108] as multi-year economic stimulus efforts continued.[109][110] The unemployment rate reached a peak in October 2009 at 10.0%.[111] However, the economy added non-farm jobs for a record 75 straight months between October 2010 and December 2016, and the unemployment rate fell to 4.7% in December 2016.[112] The recovery from the Great Recession was marked by a lower labor force participation rate, some economists attributing the lower participation rate partially to an aging population and people staying in school longer, as well as long-term structural demographic changes.[113] The recovery also laid bare the growing income inequality in the United States,[114] which the Obama administration highlighted as a major problem.[115] The federal minimum wage increased during Obama's presidency to $7.25 per hour;[116] in his second term, Obama advocated for another increase to $12 per hour.[117]

Obama speaking with former President Bill Clinton and Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett about job creation in July 2010

GDP growth returned in the third quarter of 2009, expanding at a 1.6% pace, followed by a 5.0% increase in the fourth quarter.[118] Growth continued in 2010, posting an increase of 3.7% in the first quarter, with lesser gains throughout the rest of the year.[118] The country's real GDP grew by about 2% in 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014, peaking at 2.9% in 2015.[119][120] In the aftermath of the recession, median household income (adjusted for inflation) declined during Obamas first term, before recovering to a new record high in his final year.[121] The poverty rate peaked at 15.1% in 2010 but declined to 12.7% in 2016, which was still higher than the 12.5% pre-recession figure of 2007.[122][123][124] The relatively small GDP growth rates in the United States and other developed countries following the Great Recession left economists and others wondering whether U.S. growth rates would ever return to the levels seen in the second half of the twentieth century.[125][126]

Taxation

See also: Taxation in the United States Federal income tax brackets under Clinton, Bush, and Obama[127] Year Clinton[4] Bush[5] Obama[6] Bottom 15% 10% 10% 2nd 28% 15% 15% 3rd 31% 25% 25% 4th 36% 28% 28% 5th - 33% 33% 6th - - 35% Top 39.6% 35% 39.6%

Obama's presidency saw an extended battle over taxes that ultimately led to the permanent extension of most of the Bush tax cuts, which had been enacted between 2001 and 2003. Those tax cuts were set to expire during Obama's presidency since they were originally passed using a Congressional maneuver known as reconciliation, and had to fulfill the long-term deficit requirements of the "Byrd rule." During the lame duck session of the 111th Congress, Obama and Republicans wrangled over the ultimate fate of the cuts. Obama wanted to extend the tax cuts for taxpayers making less than $250,000 a year, while Congressional Republicans wanted a total extension of the tax cuts, and refused to support any bill that did not extend tax cuts for top earners.[128][129] Obama and the Republican Congressional leadership reached a deal that included a two-year extension of all the tax cuts, a 13-month extension of unemployment insurance, a one-year reduction in the FICA payroll tax, and other measures.[130] Obama ultimately persuaded many wary Democrats to support the bill, though many liberals such as Bernie Sanders continued to oppose it.[131][132] The $858 billion Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 passed with bipartisan majorities in both houses of Congress and was signed into law by Obama on December 17, 2010.[131][133]

Shortly after Obama's 2012 re-election, Congressional Republicans and Obama again faced off over the final fate of the Bush tax cuts. Republicans sought to make all tax cuts permanent, while Obama sought to extend the tax cuts only for those making under $250,000.[134] Obama and Congressional Republicans came to an agreement on the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, which made permanent the tax cuts for individuals making less than $400,000 a year (or less than $450,000 for couples).[134] For earnings greater than that amount, the income tax increased from 35% to 39.6%, which was the top rate before the passage of the Bush tax cuts.[135] The deal also permanently indexed the alternative minimum tax for inflation, limited deductions for individuals making more than $250,000 ($300,000 for couples), permanently set the estate tax exemption at $5.12 million (indexed to inflation), and increased the top estate tax rate from 35% to 40%.[135] Though many Republicans did not like the deal, the bill passed the Republican House in large part due to the fact that the failure to pass any bill would have resulted in the total expiration of the Bush tax cuts.[134][136]

Budget and debt ceiling

See also: United States federal budget John Boehner (R-OH) served as Speaker of the House from 2011 to 2015.

US government debt grew substantially during the Great Recession, as government revenues fell and Obama largely eschewed the austerity policies followed by many European countries.[137] US government debt grew from 52% of GDP when Obama took office in 2009 to 74% in 2014, with most of the growth in debt coming between 2009 and 2012.[119] In 2010, Obama ordered the creation of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform (also known as the "Simpson-Bowles Commission") in order to find ways to reduce the country's debt.[138] The commission ultimately released a report that called for a mix of spending cuts and tax increases.[138] Notable recommendations of the report include a cut in military spending, a scaling back of tax deductions for mortgages and employer-provided health insurance, a raise of the Social Security retirement age, and reduced spending on Medicare, Medicaid, and federal employees.[138] The proposal never received a vote in Congress, but it served as a template for future plans to reduce the national debt.[139]

After taking control of the House in the 2010 elections, Congressional Republicans demanded spending cuts in return for raising the United States debt ceiling, the statutory limit on the total amount of debt that the Treasury Department can issue. The 2011 debt-ceiling crisis developed as Obama and Congressional Democrats demanded a "clean" debt-ceiling increase that did not include spending cuts.[140] Though some Democrats argued that Obama could unilaterally raise the debt ceiling under the terms of the Fourteenth Amendment,[141] Obama chose to negotiate with Congressional Republicans. Obama and Speaker of the House John Boehner attempted to negotiate a "grand bargain" to cut the deficit, reform entitlement programs, and re-write the tax code, but the negotiations eventually collapsed due to ideological differences between the Democratic and Republican leaders.[142][143][144] Congress instead passed the Budget Control Act of 2011, which raised the debt ceiling, provided for domestic and military spending cuts, and established the bipartisan Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction to propose further spending cuts.[145] As the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction failed to reach an agreement on further cuts, domestic and military spending cuts known as the "sequester" took effect starting in 2013.[146]

In October 2013, the government shut down for two weeks as Republicans and Democrats were unable to agree on a budget. House Republicans passed a budget that would defund Obamacare, but Senate Democrats refused to pass any budget that defunded Obamacare.[147] Meanwhile, the country faced another debt ceiling crisis. Ultimately the two sides agreed to a continuing resolution that re-opened the government and suspended the debt ceiling.[148] Months after passing the continuing resolution, Congress passed the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 and an omnibus spending bill to fund the government through 2014.[149] In 2015, after John Boehner announced that he would resign as Speaker of the House, Congress passed a bill that set government spending targets and suspended the debt limit until after Obama left office.[150]

LGBT rights

See also: LGBT rights in the United States

During his presidency, Obama, Congress, and the Supreme Court all contributed to a huge expansion of LGBT rights. In 2009, Obama signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which expanded hate crime laws to cover crimes committed because of the victim's sexual orientation.[151] In December 2010, Obama signed the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010, which ended the military's policy of disallowing openly gay and lesbian people from openly serving in the United States Armed Forces.[152] Obama also supported the passage of ENDA, which would ban discrimination against employees on the basis of gender or sexual identity for all companies with 15 or more employees,[153] and the similar but more comprehensive Equality Act.[154] Neither bill passed Congress. In May 2012, Obama became the first sitting president to support same-sex marriage, shortly after Vice President Joe Biden had also expressed support for the institution.[155] The following year, Obama appointed Todd M. Hughes to the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, making Hughes the first openly gay federal judge in U.S. history.[156] In 2015, the Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution guarantees same-sex couples the right to marry in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges, and Obama personally congratulated the plaintiff.[157] Obama also issued dozens of executive orders intended to help LGBT Americans,[158] including a 2010 order that extended full benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees.[159] A 2014 order prohibited discrimination against employees of federal contractors on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.[159] In 2015, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter ended the ban on women in combat roles,[160] and in 2016, he ended the ban on transgender individuals openly serving in the military.[161] On the international stage, Obama advocated for gay rights, particularly in Africa.[162]

Education

See also: Education in the United States

The Great Recession of 2008-09 caused a sharp decline in tax revenues in all cities and states. The response was to cut education budgets. Obama's $800 billion stimulus package included $100 billion for public schools, which every state used to protect its educational budget. However, in terms of sponsoring innovation, Obama and his Education Secretary Arne Duncan pursued K-12 education reform through the Race to the Top grant program. With over $15 billion of grants at stake, 34 states quickly revised their education laws according to the proposals of advanced educational reformers. In the competition points were awarded for allowing charter schools to multiply, for compensating teachers on a merit basis including student test scores, and for adopting higher educational standards. There were incentives for states to establish college and career-ready standards, which in practice meant adopting the Common Core State Standards Initiative that had been developed on a bipartisan basis by the National Governors Association, and the Council of Chief State School Officers. The criteria were not mandatory, they were incentives to improve opportunities to get a grant. Most states revised their laws accordingly, even though they realized it was unlikely they would when a highly competitive new grant. Race to the Top had strong bipartisan support, with centrist elements from both parties. It was opposed by the left wing of the Democratic Party, and by the right wing of the Republican Party, and criticized for centralizing too much power in Washington. Complaints also came from middle-class families, who were annoyed at the increasing emphasis on teaching to the test, rather than encouraging teachers to show creativity and stimulating students' imagination.[163][164]

Obama also advocated for universal pre-kindergarten programs,[165] and two free years of community college for everyone.[166] Through her Let's Move program and advocacy of healthier school lunches, First Lady Michelle Obama focused attention on childhood obesity, which was three times higher in 2008 than it had been in 1974.[167] In December 2015, Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act, a bipartisan bill that reauthorized federally mandated testing but shrank the federal government's role in education, especially with regard to troubled schools.[168] The law also ended the use of waivers by the Education Secretary.[168] In post-secondary education, Obama signed the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, which ended the role of private banks in lending out federally insured student loans,[169] created a new income-based loan repayment plan known as Pay as You Earn, and increased the amount of Pell Grant awards given each year.[170] He also instituted new regulations on for-profit colleges, including a "gainful employment" rule that restricted federal funding from colleges that failed to adequately prepare graduates for careers.[171]

Immigration

See also: Immigration to the United States

From the beginning of his presidency, Obama supported comprehensive immigration reform, including a pathway to citizenship for many immigrants illegally residing in the United States.[172] However, Congress did not pass a comprehensive immigration bill during Obama's tenure, and Obama turned to executive actions. In the 2010 lame-duck session, Obama supported passage of the DREAM Act, which passed the House but failed to overcome a Senate filibuster in a 55-41 vote in favor of the bill.[173] In 2013, the Senate passed an immigration bill with a path to citizenship, but the House did not vote on the bill.[174][175] In 2012, Obama implemented the DACA policy, which protected roughly 700,000 illegal immigrants from deportation; the policy applies only to those who were brought to the United States before their 16th birthday.[176] In 2014, Obama announced a new executive order that would have protected another four million illegal immigrants from deportation,[177] but the order was blocked by the Supreme Court in a 4-4 tie vote that upheld a lower court's ruling.[178] Despite executive actions to protect some individuals, deportations of illegal immigrants continued under Obama. A record high of 400,000 deportations occurred in 2012, though the number of deportations fell during Obama's second term.[179] In continuation of a trend that began with the passage of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, the percentage of foreign-born people living in the United States reached 13.7% in 2015, higher than at any point since the early 20th century.[180][181] After having risen since 1990, the number of illegal immigrants living in the United States stabilized at around 11.5 million individuals during Obama's presidency, down from a peak of 12.2 million in 2007.[182][183]

The nation's immigrant population hit a record 42.2 million in 2014.[184] In November 2015, Obama announced a plan to resettle at least 10,000 Syrian refugees in the United States.[185]

Energy

See also: Energy policy of the Obama administration President Obama during a call to the crew aboard the ISS

Energy production boomed during the Obama administration.[186] An increase in oil production was driven largely by a fracking boom spurred by private investment on private land, and played only a small role in this development.[186] The Obama administration promoted the growth of renewable energy,[187] and solar power generation tripled during Obama's presidency.[188] Obama also issued numerous energy efficiency standards, contributing to a flattening of growth of the total U.S. energy demand.[189] In May 2010, Obama extended a moratorium on offshore drilling permits after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, which is generally considered to be the worst oil spill in U.S. history.[190][191] In December 2016, President Obama invoked the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act to ban offshore oil and gas exploration in large parts of the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans.[192]

During Obama's tenure, the battle over the Keystone XL Pipeline became a major issue, with advocates arguing that it would contribute to economic growth and environmentalists arguing that its approval would contribute to global warming.[193] The proposed 1,000-mile (1,600km) pipeline would have connected Canada's oil sands with the Gulf of Mexico.[193] Because the pipeline crossed international boundaries, its construction required the approval of the US federal government, and the US State Department engaged in a lengthy review process.[193] President Obama vetoed a bill to construct the Keystone Pipeline in February 2015, arguing that the decision of approval should rest with the executive branch.[194] It was the first major veto of his presidency, and Congress was unable to override it.[195] In November 2015, Obama announced that he would not approve of the construction of the pipeline.[193] On vetoing the bill, he stated that the pipeline played an "overinflated role" in U.S. political discourse and would have had relatively little impact on job creation or climate change.[193]

Drug policy and criminal justice reform

See also: Criminal justice reform in the United States and Federal drug policy of the United States

The Obama administration took a few steps to reform the criminal justice system at a time when many in both parties felt that the US had gone too far in incarcerating drug offenders,[196] and Obama was the first president since the 1960s to preside over a reduction in the federal prison population.[197] Obama's tenure also saw a continued decline of the national violent crime rate from its peak in 1991, though there was an uptick in the violent crime rate in 2015.[198][199] In October 2009, the U.S. Department of Justice issued a directive to federal prosecutors in states with medical marijuana laws not to investigate or prosecute cases of marijuana use or production done in compliance with those laws.[200] In 2009, President Obama signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2010, which repealed a 21-year-old ban on federal funding of needle exchange programs.[201] In August 2010, Obama signed the Fair Sentencing Act, which reduced the sentencing disparity between crack cocaine and powder cocaine.[202] In 2012, Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize non-medical marijuana,[203] and six more states legalized recreational marijuana by the time Obama left office.[204] Though any use of marijuana remained illegal under federal law, the Obama administration generally chose not to prosecute those who used marijuana in states that chose to legalize it.[205] However, some liberals and libertarians criticized Obama for continuing or even expanding the war on drugs, particularly in regards to medical marijuana.[206][207] In 2016, Obama announced that the federal government would phase out the use of private prisons.[208] Obama commuted the sentences of over 1,000 individuals, a higher number of commutations than any other president, and most of Obama's commutations went to nonviolent drug offenders.[209][210]

During Obama's presidency, there was a sharp rise in opioid mortality. Many of the deaths then and now result from fentanyl consumption where an overdose is more likely than with heroin consumption. And many people died because they were not aware of this difference or thought that they would administer themselves heroin or a drug mixture but actually used pure fentanyl.[211] Health experts criticized the government's response as slow and weak.[212][213]

Gun control

See also: Gun politics in the United States ">File:President Obama Makes a Statement on the Shooting in Newtown.ogvPlay media Obama's statement on the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting

Obama called for gun control measures in the aftermath of several mass shootings, but was unable to pass a major bill. In 2009, Obama discussed reinstating the Federal Assault Weapons Ban, but did not make a strong push to pass it through Congress at that time.[214] Following the December 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, Obama outlined a series of sweeping gun control proposals, urging Congress to reintroduce an expired ban on "military-style" assault weapons, impose limits on ammunition magazines to 10 rounds, introduce background checks on all gun sales, pass a ban on possession and sale of armor-piercing bullets, introduce harsher penalties for gun-traffickers, and approve the appointment of the head of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives for the first time since 2006.[215] Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Pat Toomey (R-PA) attempted to pass a more limited gun control measure that would have expanded background checks, but the bill was blocked in the Senate.[216] Despite Obama's advocacy and subsequent mass shootings such as the Charleston church shooting, no major gun control bill passed Congress during Obama's presidency, in part due to the power of 2nd Amendment activists such as the National Rifle Association.[217] Obama's presidency ironically saw expansion of gun rights in the United States, as the Supreme Court ruled in McDonald v. City of Chicago that the Second Amendment applies to the states in addition to the federal government. Obama signed into law two bills containing amendments reducing restrictions on gun owners, one which permitted guns to be transported in checked baggage on Amtrak trains[218] and another which allowed the carrying of loaded firearms in national parks located in states allowing concealed carry.[219][220]

Cybersecurity

See also: Cyberwarfare in the United States

Cybersecurity emerged as an important issue during Obama's presidency. In 2009, the Obama administration established United States Cyber Command, an armed forces sub-unified command charged with defending the military against cyber attacks.[221] Sony Pictures suffered a major hack in 2014, which the US government alleges originated from North Korea in retaliation for the release of the film The Interview.[222] China also developed sophisticated cyber-warfare forces.[223] In 2015, Obama declared cyber-attacks on the US a national emergency.[222] Later that year, Obama signed the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act into law.[224] In 2016, the Democratic National Committee and other US organizations were hacked,[225] and the FBI and CIA concluded that Russia sponsored the hacking in hopes of helping Donald Trump win the 2016 presidential election.[226] The email accounts of other prominent individuals, including former Secretary of State Colin Powell and CIA Director John O. Brennan, were also hacked, leading to new fears about the confidentiality of emails.[227]

Racial issues

See also: Race and ethnicity in the United States "Beer Summit" at the White House, July 30, 2009

In his speeches as president, Obama did not make more overt references to race relations than his predecessors,[228][229] but according to one study, he implemented stronger policy action on behalf of African-Americans than any president since the Nixon era.[230]

Following Obama's election, many pondered the existence of a "postracial America."[231][232] However, lingering racial tensions quickly became apparent,[231][233] and many African-Americans expressed outrage over what they saw as "racial venom" directed at Obama's presidency.[234] In July 2009, prominent African-American Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., was arrested at his Cambridge, Massachusetts home by a local police officer, sparking a controversy after Obama stated that the police acted "stupidly" in handling the incident. To reduce tensions, Obama invited Gates and the police officer to the White House in what became known as the "Beer Summit".[235] Several other incidents during Obama's presidency sparked outrage in the African-American community and/or the law enforcement community, and Obama sought to build trust between law enforcement officials and civil rights activists.[236] The acquittal of George Zimmerman following the shooting of Trayvon Martin sparked national outrage, leading to Obama giving a speech in which he noted that "Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago."[237] The shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri sparked a wave of protests.[238] These and other events led to the birth of the Black Lives Matter movement, which campaigns against violence and systemic racism toward black people.[238] Some in the law enforcement community criticized Obama's condemnation of racial bias after incidents in which police action led to the death of African-American men, while some racial justice activists criticized Obama's expressions of empathy for the police.[236] Though Obama entered office reluctant to talk about race, by 2014 he began openly discussing the disadvantages faced by many members of minority groups.[239] In a March 2016 Gallup poll, nearly one third of Americans said they worried "a great deal" about race relations, a higher figure than in any previous Gallup poll since 2001.[240]

NASA

Main article: Space policy of the Barack Obama administration President Obama speaks at Kennedy Space Center, April 15, 2010.

In July 2009, Obama appointed Charles Bolden, a former astronaut, as NASA Administrator.[241] That same year, Obama set up the Augustine panel to review the Constellation program. In February 2010, Obama announced that he was cutting the program from the 2011 United States federal budget, describing it as "over budget, behind schedule, and lacking in innovation."[242][243] After the decision drew criticism in the United States, a new "Flexible path to Mars" plan was unveiled at a space conference in April 2010.[244][245] It included new technology programs, increased R&D spending, an increase in NASA's 2011 budget from $18.3 billion to $19 billion, a focus on the International Space Station, and plans to contract future transportation to Low Earth orbit to private companies.[244] During Obama's presidency, NASA designed the Space Launch System and developed the Commercial Crew Development and Commercial Orbital Transportation Services to cooperate with private space flight companies.[246][247] These private companies, including SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, Blue Origin, Boeing, and Bigelow Aerospace, became increasingly active during Obama's presidency.[248] The Space Shuttle program ended in 2011, and NASA relied on the Russian space program to launch its astronauts into orbit for the remainder of the Obama administration.[246][249] Obama's presidency also saw the launch of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and the Mars Science Laboratory. In 2016, Obama called on the United States to land a human on Mars by the 2030s.[248]

Other initiatives

Obama took steps to promote various technologies and the technological prowess of the United States. The number of American adults using the internet grew from 74% in 2008 to 84% in 2013,[250] and Obama pushed programs to extend broadband internet to lower income Americans.[251] Over the opposition of many Republicans, the Federal Communications Commission began regulating internet providers as public utilities, with the goal of protecting "net neutrality."[252] Obama launched 18F and the United States Digital Service, two organizations devoted to modernizing government information technology.[253][254] The stimulus package included money to build high-speed rail networks such as the proposed Florida High Speed Corridor, but political resistance and funding problems stymied those efforts.[255] In January 2016, Obama announced a plan to invest $4 billion in the development of self-driving cars, as well as an initiative by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to develop regulations for self-driving cars.[256] That same month, Obama called for a national effort led by Vice President Biden to develop a cure for cancer.[257]

Foreign affairs

Main article: Foreign policy of the Barack Obama administration See also: List of presidential trips made by Barack Obama

The Obama administration inherited a war in Afghanistan, a war in Iraq, and a global "War on Terror," all launched by Congress during the term of President Bush in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks. Upon taking office, Obama called for a "new beginning" in relations between the Muslim world and the United States,[258][259] and he discontinued the use of the term "War on Terror" in favor of the term "Overseas Contingency Operation."[260] Obama pursued a "light footprint" military strategy in the Middle East that emphasized special forces, drone strikes, and diplomacy over large ground troop occupations.[261] However, American forces continued to clash with Islamic militant organizations such as al-Qaeda, ISIL, and al-Shabaab[262] under the terms of the AUMF passed by Congress in 2001.[263] Though the Middle East remained important to American foreign policy, Obama pursued a "pivot" to East Asia.[264][265] Obama also emphasized closer relations with India, and was the first president to visit the country twice.[266] An advocate for nuclear non-proliferation, Obama successfully negotiated arms-reduction deals with Iran and Russia.[267] In 2015, Obama described the Obama Doctrine, saying "we will engage, but we preserve all our capabilities."[268] Obama also described himself as an internationalist who rejected isolationism and was influenced by realism and liberal interventionism.[269]

Iraq and Afghanistan

Troop levels in Iraq and Afghanistan[270] Year Iraq Afghanistan 2007* 137,000[271] 26,000[271] 2008* 154,000[271] 27,500[271] 2009 139,500[271] 34,400[271] 2010 107,100[271] 71,700[271] 2011 47,000[271] 97,000[271] 2012 150[272] 91,000[273] 2013 ?150 66,000[274] 2014 ?150 38,000[275] 2015 2,100[276] 12,000[277] 2016 4,450[278] 9,800[279] 2017 5,200[280] 8,400[281] Main articles: Iraq War and War in Afghanistan (2001present)

During the 2008 presidential election, Obama strongly criticized the Iraq War,[282] and Obama withdrew the vast majority of U.S. soldiers in Iraq by late 2011. On taking office, Obama announced that U.S. combat forces would leave Iraq by August 2010, with 35,00050,000 American soldiers remaining in Iraq as advisers and trainers,[283] down from the roughly 150,000 American soldiers in Iraq in early 2009.[284] In 2008, President Bush had signed the U.S.Iraq Status of Forces Agreement, in which the United States committed to withdrawing all forces by late 2011.[285][286] Obama attempted to convince Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to allow U.S. soldiers to stay past 2011, but the large presence of American soldiers was unpopular with most Iraqis.[285] By late-December 2011, only 150 American soldiers remained to serve at the US embassy.[272] However, in 2014, the U.S. began a campaign against ISIL, an Islamic extremist terrorist group operating in Iraq and Syria that grew dramatically after the withdrawal of U.S. soldiers from Iraq and the start of the Syrian Civil War.[287][288] By June 2015, there were about 3500 American soldiers in Iraq serving as advisers to anti-ISIL forces in the Iraqi Civil War,[289] and Obama left office with roughly 5,262 U.S. soldiers in Iraq and 503 of them in Syria.[290]

Obama increased the number of American soldiers in Afghanistan during his first term before withdrawing most military personnel in his second term. On taking office, Obama announced that the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan would be bolstered by 17,000 new troops by Summer 2009,[291] on top of the roughly 30,000 soldiers already in Afghanistan at the start of 2009.[292] Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair Michael Mullen all argued for further troops, and Obama dispatched additional soldiers after a lengthy review process.[293][294] The number of American soldiers in Afghanistan would peak at 100,000 in 2010.[271] In 2012, the U.S. and Afghanistan signed a strategic partnership agreement in which the U.S. agreed to hand over major combat operation to Afghan forces.[295] That same year, the Obama administration designated Afghanistan as a major non-NATO ally.[296] In 2014, Obama announced that most troops would leave Afghanistan by late 2016, with a small force remaining at the US embassy.[297] In September 2014, Ashraf Ghani succeeded Hamid Karzai as the President of Afghanistan after the U.S. helped negotiate a power-sharing agreement between Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah.[298] On January 1, 2015, the U.S. military ended Operation Enduring Freedom and began Resolute Support Mission, in which the U.S. shifted to more of a training role, although some combat operations continued.[299] In October 2015, Obama announced that U.S. soldiers would remain in Afghanistan indefinitely in order support the Afghan government in the civil war against the Taliban, al-Qaeda, and ISIL.[300] Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair Martin Dempsey framed the decision to keep soldiers in Afghanistan as part of a long-term counter-terrorism operation stretching across Central Asia.[301] Obama left office with roughly 8,400 U.S. soldiers remaining in Afghanistan.[281]

East Asia

See also: East Asian foreign policy of the Barack Obama administration

Though other areas of the world remained important to American foreign policy, Obama pursued a "pivot" to East Asia, focusing the U.S.'s diplomacy and trade in the region.[264][265] China's continued emergence as a major power was a major issue of Obama's presidency; while the two countries worked together on issues such as climate change, the China-United States relationship also experienced tensions regarding territorial claims in the South China Sea and the East China Sea.[302] In 2016, the United States hosted a summit with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) for the first time, reflecting the Obama administration's pursuit of closer relations with ASEAN and other Asian countries.[303] After helping to encourage openly contested elections in Myanmar, Obama lifted many US sanctions on Myanmar.[304][305] Obama also increased US military ties with Vietnam,[306] Australia, and the Philippines, increased aid to Laos, and contributed to a warming of relations between South Korea and Japan.[307] Obama designed the Trans-Pacific Partnership as the key economic pillar of the Asian pivot, though the agreement remains unratified.[307] Obama made little progress with relations with North Korea, a long-time adversary of the United States, and North Korea continued to develop its WMD program.[308]

Russia

See also: NATORussia relations The first meeting between Dmitry Medvedev and Barack Obama before the G20 summit in London on April 1, 2009

On taking office, Obama called for a "reset" in relations with Russia, which had declined following the 2008 Russo-Georgian War.[309] While President Bush had successfully pushed for NATO expansion into former Eastern bloc states, the early Obama era saw NATO put more of an emphasis on creating a long-term partnership with Russia.[310] Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev worked together on a new treaty to reduce and monitor nuclear weapons, Russian accession to the World Trade Organization, and counterterrorism.[309] On April 8, 2010, Obama and Medvedev signed the New START treaty, a major nuclear arms control agreement that reduced the nuclear weapons stockpiles of both countries and provided for a monitoring regime.[311] In December 2010, the Senate ratified New START in a 7126 vote, with 13 Republicans and all Democrats voting in favor of the treaty.[312] In 2012, Russia joined the World Trade Organization and Obama normalized trade relations with Russia.[313]

USRussia relations declined after Vladimir Putin returned to the presidency in 2012.[309] Russia's intervention in Ukraine and annexation of Crimea in response to the Euromaidan movement led to a strong condemnation by Obama and other Western leaders, who imposed sanctions on Russian leaders.[309][314] The sanctions contributed to a Russian financial crisis.[315] Some members of Congress from both parties also called for the US to arm Ukrainian forces, but Obama resisted becoming closely involved in the War in Donbass.[316] In 2016, following several cybersecurity incidents, the Obama administration formally accused Russia of engaging in a campaign to undermine the 2016 election, and the administration imposed sanctions on some Russian-linked people and organizations.[317][318] In 2017, after Obama left office, Robert Mueller was appointed as special counsel to investigate Russian's involvement in the 2016 election, including allegations of conspiracy or coordination between Trump's presidential campaign and Russia.[319] The Mueller Report, released in 2019, concludes that Russia undertook a sustained social media campaign and cyberhacking operation to bolster the Trump campaign.[320] The report did not reach a conclusion on allegations that the Trump campaign had colluded with Russia, but, according to Mueller, his investigation did not find evidence "sufficient to charge any member of the [Trump] campaign with taking part in a criminal conspiracy."[321]

Israel

The relationship between Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netenyahu (who held office for all but two months of Obama's presidency) was notably icy, with many commenting on their mutual distaste for each other.[322][323] On taking office, Obama appointed George J. Mitchell as a special envoy to the Middle East to work towards a settlement of the IsraeliPalestinian conflict, but Mitchell made little progress before stepping down in 2011.[324] In March 2010, Secretary of State Clinton criticized the Israeli government for approving expansion of settlements in East Jerusalem.[325] Netanyahu strongly opposed Obama's efforts to negotiate with Iran and was seen as favoring Mitt Romney in the 2012 US presidential election.[322] However, Obama continued the US policy of vetoing UN resolutions calling for a Palestinian state, and the administration continued to advocate for a negotiated two-state solution.[326] Obama also increased aid to Israel, including funding for the Iron Dome air defense program.[327]

During Obama's last months in office, his administration chose not to veto United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334, which urged the end of Israeli settlement in the territories that Israel captured in the Six-Day War of 1967. The Obama administration argued that the abstention was consistent with long-standing American opposition to the expansion of settlements, while critics of the abstention argued that it abandoned a close U.S. ally.[328]

Trade agreements

See also: United States free trade agreements The Obama administration maintained existing trade agreements and concluded new ones with Panama, Colombia, and South Korea

Like his predecessor, Obama pursued free trade agreements, in part due to the lack of progress at the Doha negotiations in lowering trade barriers worldwide.[329] In October 2011, the United States entered into free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea. Congressional Republicans overwhelmingly supported the agreements, while Congressional Democrats cast a mix of votes.[330] The three agreements had originally been negotiated by the Bush administration, but Obama re-opened negotiations with each country and changed some terms of each deal.[330]

Obama promoted two significantly larger, multilateral free trade agreements: the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) with eleven Pacific Rim countries, including Japan, Mexico, and Canada, and the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with the European Union.[331] TPP negotiations began under President Bush, and Obama continued them as part of a long-term strategy that sought to refocus on rapidly growing economies in East Asia.[332][332] The chief administration goals in the TPP, included: (1) establishing free market capitalism as the main normative platform for economic integration in the region; (2) guaranteeing standards for intellectual property rights, especially regarding copyright, software, and technology; (3) underscore American leadership in shaping the rules and norms of the emerging global order; (4) and blocking China from establishing a rival network.[333]

After years of negotiations, the 12 countries reached a final agreement on the content of the TPP in October 2015,[334] and the full text of the treaty was made public in November 2015.[335] The Obama administration was criticized from the left for a lack of transparency in the negotiations, as well as the presence of corporate representatives who assisted in the drafting process.[336][337][338] In July 2015, Congress passed a bill giving trade promotion authority to the president until 2021; trade promotion authority requires Congress to vote up or down on trade agreements signed by the president, with no possibility of amendments or filibusters.[339] The TPP became a major campaign issue in the 2016 elections, with both major party presidential nominees opposing its ratification.[340] After Obama left office, President Trump pulled the United States out of the TPP negotiations, and the remaining TPP signatories later concluded a separate free trade agreement known as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.[341]

Guantanamo Bay detention camp

In 2002, the Bush administration established the Guantanamo Bay detention camp to hold alleged "enemy combatants" in a manner that did not treat the detainees as conventional prisoners of war.[342] Obama repeatedly stated his desire to close the detention camp, arguing that the camp's extrajudicial nature provided a recruitment tool for terrorist organizations.[342] On his first day in office, Obama instructed all military prosecutors to suspend proceedings so that the incoming administration could review the military commission process.[343] On January 22, 2009, Obama signed an executive order restricting interrogators to methods listed and authorized by an Army Field Manual,[344] ending the use of "enhanced interrogation techniques."[345] In March 2009, the administration announced that it would no longer refer to prisoners at Guantanamo Bay as enemy combatants, but it also asserted that the president had the authority to detain terrorism suspects there without criminal charges.[346] The prisoner population of the detention camp fell from 242 in January 2009 to 91 in January 2016, in part due to the Periodic Review Boards that Obama established in 2011.[347] Many members of Congress strongly opposed plans to transfer Guantanamo detainees to prisons in U.S. states, and the Obama administration was reluctant to send potentially dangerous prisoners to other countries, especially unstable countries such as Yemen.[348] Though Obama continued to advocate for the closure of the detention camp,[348] 41 inmates remained in Guantanamo when Obama left office.[349][350]

Killing of Osama bin Laden

Main article: Death of Osama bin Laden Obama, sitting next to Biden, with the U.S. national security team gathered in the Situation Room to monitor the progress of Operation Neptune Spear. Wikisource has original text related to this article: Remarks by the President on Osama bin Laden

The Obama administration launched a successful operation that resulted in the death of Osama bin Laden, the leader of al-Qaeda, a global Sunni Islamist militant organization responsible for the September 11 attacks and several other terrorist attacks.[351] Starting with information received in July 2010, the CIA determined what they believed to be the location of Osama bin Laden in a large compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, a suburban area 35 miles (56km) from Islamabad.[352] CIA head Leon Panetta reported this intelligence to Obama in March 2011. Meeting with his national security advisers over the course of the next six weeks, Obama rejected a plan to bomb the compound, and authorized a "surgical raid" to be conducted by United States Navy SEALs. The operation took place on May 1, 2011, resulting in the death of bin Laden and the seizure of papers and computer drives and disks from the compound.[353] Bin Laden's body was identified through DNA testing, and buried at sea several hours later.[354] Reaction to the announcement was positive across party lines, including from predecessors George W. Bush and Bill Clinton,[355] and from many countries around the world.[356]

Drone warfare

See also: Drone attacks in Pakistan

Obama expanded the drone strike program begun by the Bush administration, and the Obama administration conducted drone strikes against targets in Yemen, Somalia, and, most prominently, Pakistan.[357] Though the drone strikes killed high-ranking terrorists, they were also criticized for resulting in civilian casualties.[358] A 2013 Pew research poll showed that the strikes were broadly unpopular in Pakistan,[359] and some former members of the Obama administration have criticized the strikes for causing a backlash against the United States.[358] However, based on 147 interviews conducted in 2015, professor Aqil Shah argued that the strikes were popular in North Waziristan, the area in which most of the strikes take place, and that little blowback occurred.[360] In 2009, the UN special investigator on extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary executions called the United States' reliance on drones "increasingly common" and "deeply troubling", and called on the U.S. to justify its use of targeted assassinations rather than attempting to capture al Qaeda or Taliban suspects.[361][362] In 2013, Obama appointed John Brennan as the new CIA Director and announced a new policy that required CIA operatives to determine with a "near-certainty" that no civilians would be hurt in a drone strike.[357] The number of drone strikes fell substantially after the announcement of the new policy,[357][358]

As of 2015, US drone strikes had killed eight American citizens, one of whom, Anwar al-Aulaqi, was specifically targeted.[358] The targeted killing of a United States citizen raised Constitutional issues, as it is the first known instance of a sitting U.S. president ordering the extrajudicial killing of a U.S. citizen.[363][364] Obama had ordered the targeted killing of al-Aulaqi, a Muslim cleric with ties to al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, after al-Aulaqi allegedly shifted from encouraging attacks on the United States to directly participating in them.[365][366] The Obama administration continually sought to keep classified the legal opinions justifying drone strikes, but it said that it conducted special legal reviews before targeting Americans in order to purportedly satisfy the due process requirements of the Constitution.[358][367]

Cuban thaw

Main article: Cuban thaw See also: CubaUnited States relations

The Obama presidency saw a major thaw in relations with Cuba, which the United States embargoed following the Cuban Revolution and the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. Starting in the spring of 2013 secret meetings were conducted between the United States and Cuba, with the meetings taking place in the neutral locations of Canada and Vatican City.[368] The Vatican was consulted initially in 2013 as Pope Francis advised the U.S. and Cuba to exchange prisoners as a gesture of goodwill.[369] On December 10, 2013, Cuban President Raul Castro, in a significant public moment, shook hands with and greeted Obama at Nelson Mandela's memorial service in Johannesburg.[370] In December 2014, Cuba released Alan Gross in exchange for the remaining members of the Cuban Five.[369] That same month, President Obama ordered the restoration of diplomatic ties with Cuba.[371] Obama stated that he was normalizing relationships because the economic embargo had been ineffective in persuading Cuba to develop a democratic society.[372] In May 2015, Cuba was taken off the United States's list of State Sponsors of Terrorism.[373] In August 2015, following the restoration of official diplomatic relations, the United States and Cuba reopened their respective embassies.[374] In March 2016, Obama visited Cuba, making him the first American president to set foot on the island since Calvin Coolidge.[375] In 2017, Obama ended the "wet feet, dry feet policy," which had given special rights to Cuban immigrants to the United States.[376] The restored ties between Cuba and the U.S. were seen as a boon to broader Latin AmericaUnited States relations, as Latin American leaders unanimously approved of the move.[377][378] Presidential candidate Donald Trump promised to reverse the Obama policies and return to a hard line on Cuba.[379]

Iranian nuclear negotiations

Further information: Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action

Iran and the United States have had a poor relationship since the Iranian Revolution and the Iran hostage crisis, and tensions continued during Obama's presidency due to issues such as the Iranian nuclear program and Iran's alleged sponsorship of terrorism. On taking office, Obama focused on negotiations with Iran over the status of its nuclear program, working with the other P5+1 powers to adopt a multilateral agreement.[380] Obama's stance differed dramatically from the more hawkish position of his predecessor, George W. Bush,[381] as well as the stated positions of most of Obama's rivals in the 2008 presidential campaign.[382] In June 2013, Hasan Rouhani won election as the new President of Iran, and Rouhani called for a continuation of talks on Iran's nuclear program.[383] In November 2013, Iran and the P5 announced an interim agreement,[383] and in April 2015, negotiators announced that a framework agreement had been reached.[384] Congressional Republicans, who along with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had strongly opposed the negotiations,[385] attempted but failed to pass a Congressional resolution rejecting the six-nation accord.[386] Under the agreement, Iran promised to limit its nuclear program and to provide access to International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors, while the U.S. and other countries agreed to reduce sanctions on Iran.[387] The partisan fight over the Iran nuclear deal exemplified a broader ideological disagreement regarding American foreign policy in the Middle East and how to handle adversarial regimes, as many opponents of the deal considered Iran to be an implacably hostile adversary who would inevitably break any agreement.[388]

Arab Spring and its aftermath

See also: Arab Spring Most Arab states experienced turmoil during the Arab Spring.
Civil war Government overthrown multiple times Government overthrown Protests and governmental changes Major protests Minor protests

After a sudden revolution in Tunisia in 2011,[389] protests occurred in almost every Arab state. The wave of demonstrations became known as the Arab Spring, and the handling of the Arab Spring played a major role in Obama's foreign policy.[390] After three weeks of unrest, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak resigned at the urging of President Obama.[391] General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi eventually took power from Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi in a 2013 coup d'etat, prompting the US to cut off arms shipments to its long-time ally.[392] However, Obama resumed the shipments in 2015.[392] Yemen experienced a revolution and then civil war, leading to a Saudi military campaign that received logistical and intelligence assistance from the United States.[393] The Obama administration announced its intention to review U.S. military assistance to Saudi Arabia after Saudi warplanes targeted a funeral in Yemen's capital Sanaa, killing more than 140 people.[394] The UN accused the Saudi-led coalition of "complete disregard for human life".[395][396][397]

Libya

Libya was strongly affected by the Arab Spring. Anti-government protests broke out in Benghazi, Libya, in February 2011,[398] and the Gaddafi government responded with military force.[399] The Obama administration initially resisted calls to take strong action[400] but relented after the Arab League requested Western intervention in Libya.[401] In March 2011, international reaction to Gaddafi's military crackdown culminated in a United Nations resolution to enforce a no fly zone in Libya. Obama authorized U.S. forces to participate in international air attacks on Libyan air defenses using Tomahawk cruise missiles to establish the protective zone.[402][403] The intervention was led by NATO, but Sweden and three Arab nations also participated in the mission.[404] With coalition support, the rebels took Tripoli the following August.[405] The Libyan campaign culminated in the toppling of the Gaddafi regime, but Libya experienced turmoil in the aftermath of the civil war.[406] Obama's intervention in Libya provoked criticism from members of Congress and ignited a debate over the applicability of the War Powers Resolution.[407] In September 2012, Islamic militants attacked the American consulate in Benghazi, killing Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.[408] Republicans strongly criticized the Obama administration's handling of the Benghazi attack, and established a select committee in the House to investigate the attack.[409] After his presidency, Obama acknowledged his "worst mistake" of his presidency was being unable to anticipate the aftermath of ousting Gaddafi.[410]

Syrian civil war

See also: Syrian Civil War

Syria was one of the states most heavily affected by the Arab Spring, and by the second half of March 2011, major anti-government protests were being held in Syria.[411] Though Syria had long been an adversary of the United States, Obama argued that unilateral military action to topple the Bashar al-Assad regime would be a mistake.[412] As the protests continued, Syria fell into a protracted civil war,[413] and the United States supported the Syrian opposition against the Assad regime.[414] US criticism of Assad intensified after the Ghouta chemical attack, eventually resulting in a Russian-backed deal that saw the Syrian government relinquish its chemical weapons.[415] In the chaos of the Syrian Civil War, an Islamist group known as Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) took control of large portions of Syria and Iraq.[416] ISIL, which had originated as al-Qaeda in Iraq under the leadership of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi,[288] eventually challenged al-Qaeda as the most prominent global terrorist group during Obama's second term.[417] Starting in 2014, the Obama administration launched air strikes against ISIL and trained anti-ISIL soldiers, while continuing to oppose Assad's regime.[414][415] The Obama administration also cooperated with Syrian Kurds in opposing the ISIL, straining relations with Turkey, which accused the Syrian Kurds of working with the Kurdish terrorist groups inside Turkey.[418] Russia launched its own military intervention to aid Assad's regime, creating a complicated multi-party proxy war, though the United States and Russia sometimes cooperated to fight ISIL.[419] In November 2015, Obama announced a plan to resettle at least 10,000 Syrian refugees in the United States.[420] Obama's "light-footprint" approach to the Syrian conflict was criticized by many as the Syrian Civil War became a major humanitarian catastrophe, but supporters of Obama argued that he deserved credit for keeping the United States out of another costly ground war in the Middle East.[421][422][290]

Foreign and domestic surveillance

See also: Barack Obama on mass surveillance

The Obama administration inherited several government surveillance programs from the Bush administration, and Obama attempted to strike a balance between protecting civil liberties and tracking terrorist threats, but Obama's continuation of many programs disappointed many civil libertarians.[423] The New York Times reported in 2009 that the NSA had been intercepting communications of American citizens including a Congressman, although the Justice Department believed that the NSA had corrected its errors.[424] In 2011, Obama signed a four-year extension of some provisions of the Patriot Act.[425] In June 2013 the existence of PRISM, a clandestine mass electronic surveillance data mining program operated by the United States National Security Agency (NSA) since 2007, was leaked by NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who warned that the extent of mass data collection was far greater than the public knew.[426] In the face of international outrage, U.S. government officials defended the PRISM surveillance program by asserting it could not be used on domestic targets without a warrant, that it helped to prevent acts of terrorism, and that it received independent oversight from the federal government's executive, judicial and legislative branches.[427] In June 2013, Obama stated that the NSA's data gathering practices constitute "a circumscribed, narrow system directed at us being able to protect our people."[428] In 2015, Obama signed the USA Freedom Act, which extended several provisions of the Patriot Act but ended the collection of bulk telephone records by the NSA.[423][429]

Ethics

Lobbying reform

See also: Lobbying in the United States

Early in his presidential campaign, Obama stated that lobbyists "won't find a job in my White House", but softened his stance after taking office.[430] On January 21, 2009, Obama issued an executive order for all future appointees to his administration, which ordered that no appointee who was a registered lobbyist within the two years before his appointment could participate on matters in which he lobbied for a period of two years after the date of appointment.[25] Three formal waivers were initially issued in early 2009, out of 800 executive appointments:[431] The Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington criticized the administration, claiming that Obama retreated from his own ethics rules barring lobbyists from working on the issues about which they lobbied during the previous two years by issuing waivers.[432] A 2015 Politico investigation found that, while Obama had instituted incremental reforms and the number of lobbyists fell during Obama's presidency, Obama had failed to close the "revolving door" of officials moving between government and business.[433] However, the Obama administration avoided "conflict of interest" scandals that previous administrations had experienced, in part due to the administration's lobbyist rules.[434]

Transparency

">File:20090124 WeeklyAddress.ogvPlay media Obama presents his first weekly address as President of the United States, discussing the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

Obama promised that he would run the "most transparent" administration in US history, with mixed results.[435] On taking office, the Obama administration said that all executive orders, non-emergency legislation, and proclamations would be posted to the official White House website, whitehouse.gov, allowing the public to review and comment for five days before the President signs the legislation,[436] but this pledge was twice broken during Obama's first month in office.[437][438] On January 21, 2009, by executive order, Obama revoked Executive Order 13233, which had limited access to the records of former United States presidents.[439] Obama issued instructions to all agencies and departments in his administration to "adopt a presumption in favor" of Freedom of Information Act requests.[440] These actions helped the rate of classification fall to record lows during the Obama administration.[435] In April 2009, the United States Department of Justice released four legal memos from the Bush administration describing in detail controversial interrogation methods the CIA had used on prisoners suspected of terrorism.[441][442] The Obama administration also introduced the Open Government Directive, which encouraged government agencies to publish data and collaborate with the public, and the Open Government Partnership, which advocated open government norms.[435] However, Obama continued to make use of secret memos and the state secrets privilege, and continued to prosecute whistleblowers.[435]

The Obama administration has been characterized as much more aggressive than the Bush and other previous administrations in their response to whistleblowing and leaks to the press,[443] prompting critics to describe the Obama administration's crackdown as a "war on whistleblowers."[444][445] Several people were charged under the previously rarely used leak-related provisions of the Espionage Act of 1917, including Thomas Andrews Drake, a former National Security Agency employee,[446][447] Stephen Jin-Woo Kim, a State Department contractor,[448] and Jeffrey Sterling. Others prosecuted for leaking information include Shamai Leibowitz, a contract linguist for the Federal Bureau of Investigation,[449] John Kiriakou, a former CIA analyst,[450] and Chelsea Manning, an intelligence analyst for the US Army whose trial received wide coverage.[451] Most notably, Edward Snowden, a technical contractor for the NSA, was charged with theft and the unauthorized disclosure of classified information to columnist Glenn Greenwald.[452] Snowden's disclosures provoked wide array of reactions; many called for Snowden to be pardoned, while others called him a traitor.[453][454]

Elections during the Obama presidency

Democratic seats in Congress[7] Congress Senate House 111th[8] 59[9] 257 112th 53 193 113th 55 201 114th 46 188 115th[10] 48 194

2010 mid-term elections

Main article: 2010 United States elections

Attacking Obama relentlessly, emphasizing the stalled economy, and fueled by the anger of the Tea Party Movement, Republicans scored a landslide in the 2010 midterm elections, winning control of the House and gaining seats in the Senate. After the election, John Boehner replaced Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House, and Pelosi became the new House Minority Leader. Boehner pledged to repeal Obamacare and cut federal spending.[455]

Obama called the elections "humbling" and a "shellacking", arguing that the defeat came because not enough Americans had felt the effects of the economic recovery.[456] The newly empowered House Republicans quickly confronted Obama on issues such as Obamacare and the debt ceiling.[142] The Republican victory in the election also gave Republicans the upper hand in the redistricting that occurred after the 2010 United States census.[457]

2012 re-election campaign

Main articles: Barack Obama presidential campaign, 2012 and United States elections, 2012 Obama defeated Republican Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential election.

On April 4, 2011, Obama announced that he would seek re-election in the 2012 presidential election. Obama did not face any significant rivals for the 2012 Democratic nomination. Obama's Republican opponent in the general election, former Governor Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, advocated for lower taxes, spending cuts, an increase in defense spending, and a repeal of Obamacare (which was ironically based on a Massachusetts healthcare plan developed under Romney).[458] Obama's campaign was based in Chicago and run by many former members of the White House staff and members of the successful 2008 campaign.[459] Obama won re-election with 332 (out of a total of 538) electoral votes and 51.1% of the popular vote, making him the first person since Dwight Eisenhower to twice win 51 percent of the vote.[460] According to exit polls, Obama won a majority of the vote from women, blacks, Hispanics, Asians, people under 45, people making less than $50,000 per year, people inhabiting large or mid-sized cities, liberals, moderates, the unmarried, gays, and people with no college education, some college education, or graduate degrees.[461] In addition to the presidential election victory, the Democrats also picked up seats in both houses of Congress, but Republicans retained control of the House.

2014 mid-term elections

Main article: 2014 United States elections Congressional party leaders Senate leaders House leaders Year Majority Minority Speaker Minority 20092010 Reid McConnell Pelosi Boehner 20112014 Reid McConnell Boehner Pelosi 2015 McConnell Reid Boehner[11] Pelosi 20152016 McConnell Reid Ryan Pelosi 2017[12] McConnell Schumer Ryan Pelosi

Obama's second mid-term election turned into another wave election, as Republicans won control of the Senate and picked up several governorships.[462] Mitch McConnell replaced Harry Reid as Senate Majority Leader, while Reid became the Senate Minority Leader. Republican control of the Senate gave the party the power to block Obama's executive and judicial nominees.[19] The Republican waves in 2010 and 2014 defeated many young Democratic candidates, weakening the farm team of several state Democratic parties.[463]

2016 elections and transition period

Main article: 2016 United States elections Republican Donald Trump defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election.

The 2016 elections took place on November 8. Obama was term-limited in 2016 due to the 22nd Amendment, though Obama's approval ratings may have impacted his party's ability to win the race.[464] In June 2016, with the Democratic primaries nearly complete, Obama endorsed former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as his successor.[465] However, according to Glenn Thrush of Politico, Obama had long supported Clinton as his preferred successor, and Obama dissuaded Vice President Biden from running against Clinton.[466] Obama spoke in favor of Clinton at the 2016 Democratic National Convention, and he continued to campaign for Clinton and other Democrats in the months leading up to Election Day.[467] However, in the general election, Clinton was defeated by Republican nominee Donald Trump, who prominently questioned Obama's place of birth during Obama's first term.[468] Republicans also retained control of the House and Senate. During the eight years of Obama's presidency, the Democratic Party experienced a net loss of 1,041 governorships and state and federal legislative seats.[469] Ronald Brownstein of The Atlantic noted that these losses were similar to those of other post-World War II two-term presidents.[470][471]

Trump and Obama frequently communicated during the transition period, and Trump stated that he sought Obama's advice regarding presidential appointments.[472] However, President-elect Trump also criticized some of Obama's actions, including Obama's refusal to veto a UN Resolution condemning Israel settlements.[473] In his farewell address, Obama expressed concerns about a divisive political environment, economic inequality, and racism, but remained optimistic about the future.[474][475]

Approval ratings and other opinions

See also: Historical rankings of Presidents of the United States, United States presidential approval rating, and Public image of Barack Obama Gallup poll approval ratings[476] Date Approve Disapprove Jan 2009 67 13 July 2009 58 34 Jan 2010 51 43 July 2010 46 47 Jan 2011 48 45 July 2011 46 45 Jan 2012 46 47 July 2012 45 46 Jan 2013 53 40 July 2013 46 46 Jan 2014 41 53 July 2014 42 53 Jan 2015 46 48 July 2015 46 49 Jan 2016 47 49 Jul 2016 51 45 Jan 2017 55 42

After his transition period, Obama entered office with an approval rating of 82% according to Gallup,[477] Obama's approval rating fell to 69% after he took office and announced his first policy decisions.[478] Obama received the support of 90% of Democrats, 60% of independents, and 40% of Republicans in January 2009 polls.[478] By December 2009, Obama's approval rating had fallen to 51%, with Obama receiving approval from roughly 85% of Democrats, 45% of independents, and just 18% of Republicans.[478] In July 2010, after the passage of the Dodd-Frank and Obamacare, Obama's approval rating stood at 45%, with 47% disapproving.[478] Obama's approval rating would remain stable until the 2010 elections,[478] when Republicans won major gains in both houses of Congress and took control of the House.[455] Obama's approval ratings climbed back to 50% in January 2011, but fell to 40% in August 2011 following the 2011 debt-ceiling crisis.[478] Obama's approval ratings slowly increased during 2012, and they rose above 50% shortly before the 2012 election, in which Obama defeated Mitt Romney.[478] After his re-election, Obama's approval ratings reached 57%, but that number fell into the low 40s after the federal government shutdown in October 2013.[478] Obama's approval ratings remained in the mid-to-low 40s until the 2014 elections, when Republicans won gains in both houses of Congress and took control of the Senate.[478] In 2015, Obama's approval ratings climbed to the mid-to-high 40s, with his approval and disapproval ratings roughly matching each other.[478] His approval ratings rose into the 50s during the 2016 presidential campaign, and Obama registered a 57% approval rating in November 2016.[478] In a Gallup poll taken in the final week of his presidency, Obama registered a 95% approval rating with Democrats, a 61% approval rating with independents, and a 14% approval rating with Republicans.[478]

Obama's election also provoked a reaction to his race, birthplace, and religion. As president, Obama faced numerous taunts and racial innuendos, though most overt racist comments were limited to a small fringe.[479] Donald Trump theorized that Obama had been born in Kenya; an April 2011 CNN poll taken shortly before Obama released his long-form birth certificate found that 40% of Republicans believed that Obama had been born in Kenya.[468] Many of these "birthers" argued that because Obama was (allegedly) not a citizen, he was not eligible to serve as president under the natural-born-citizen requirements of the Constitution. Despite Obama's release of his long-form birth certificate, which affirmed that Obama was born in Hawaii, a 2015 CNN poll found that 20% of Americans believed that Obama was born outside of the country.[480] Many also claimed that Obama practiced Islam, and a 2015 CNN poll found that 29% of Americans and 43% of Republicans believed Obama to be a Muslim.[480] Even prior to his election as president, Obama had clarified that he was a long-time member of a church affiliated with the United Church of Christ, a mainline Protestant denomination.[481]

In a January 2010 survey by the Siena Research Institute at Siena College in Loudonville, New Yorkone year into the Obama presidency238 U.S. history and political science professors ranked Obama 15th of 43 U.S. presidents.[482] In a September 2010 survey by the United States Presidency Centre of the Institute for the Study of the Americas at the University of London School of Advanced Studyone year and eight months into the Obama presidency47 unnamed respondents who were UK academic specialists on American history and politics ranked 40 of 42 U.S. presidents from 1789 to 2009, not including Obama; if Obama had been included he would have ranked 8th, behind Harry S. Truman but ahead of Ronald Reagan and all other post-World War II U.S. presidents.[483][484][485] In a June 2012 survey by Newsweek magazinethree years and five months into the Obama presidencyten selected American historians and biographers ranked Obama 10th of 20 U.S. presidents since 1900.[486][487] In an April 2013 survey by History News Network (HNN) website in Seattlefour years and three months into the Obama presidency203 scholars from 69 top U.S. colleges and universities gave Obama a B- grade on an AF scale.[488] A February 2015 Brookings Institution survey of members of the American Political Science Association put Obama in 18th place out of the 43 presidents.[489] Additionally, a 2011 Gallup poll found that 5% of Americans saw Obama as the country's greatest president.[490]

As Obama left office, historians expressed various opinions about his effectiveness as president, with many noting that subsequent events would determine his ultimate legacy.[491][492] There was universal agreement that Obama would long be remembered as the first African-American president.[491][492][493] Many noted that Obama presided over an economic recovery and passed major domestic legislation, but failed to bridge a partisan divide and left office with his party in a weakened state.[491]

See also

  • Speeches of Barack Obama
  • List of people pardoned by Barack Obama
  • Federal political scandals, Barack Obama administration
  • Roberts Court
  • Barack Obama
  • Barack Obama 2008 presidential campaign

Notes

^ A small portion of the 111th Congress (January 3, 2009 January 19, 2009) took place under President Bush, while only a small portion of the 115th Congress (January 3, 2017 January 19, 2017) took place during Obama's second term. ^ The income, outlay, and deficit numbers reflect fiscal years which last from October to September; for example, the 2014 fiscal year lasted from October 2013 to September 2014. ^ Numbers reflect post-OBRA 93 tax brackets. ^ Numbers reflect post-Bush tax cuts tax brackets. ^ Numbers reflect post-American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 tax brackets. ^ Democratic seats at the start of each session of Congress. Independents caucusing with the Democratic Party (Senators Bernie Sanders, Joe Lieberman, and Angus King) are counted as Democrats for the purposes of this table. Throughout Obama's presidency, there were a total of 100 Senate seats in 435 House seats, so a Democratic majority in the Senate required 50 seats (since Democratic Vice President Joe Biden could provide the tie-breaking vote), and a Democratic majority in the House required 218 seats (assuming no vacancies). ^ In 2009, Democrats briefly gained a "filibuster-proof" 60 Senate seats after Al Franken won an extremely close election and Arlen Specter switched parties, but the number of Senate Democrats went down to 59 seats after Scott Brown won a January 2010 special election in Massachusetts. ^ Paul Ryan succeeded John Boehner as Speaker of the House in October 2015.

References

^ Pearson, Rick; Long, Ray (February 10, 2007). "Obama: I'm running for president". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on August 13, 2007. 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"State Department report: ISIS breaking new ground as new leader in terror groups". CNN. Retrieved January 21, 2016. ^ Cunningham, Erin (January 18, 2017). "Syria's war creates myriad problems for Turkey". Washington Post. Retrieved January 19, 2017. ^ Mazzetti, Mark; Barnard, Anne; Schmitt, Eric (August 6, 2016). "Military Success in Syria Gives Putin Upper Hand in U.S. Proxy War". New York Times. Retrieved August 7, 2016. ^ "Obama calls on Americans to welcome Syrian refugees as latter-day Pilgrims". The Guardian. November 26, 2015. ^ Spetalnick, Matt; Landay, Jonathan (December 13, 2016). "Syria's civil war to mar Obama legacy". Reuters. Retrieved January 11, 2017. ^ Plett Usher, Barbara (January 13, 2017). "Obama's Syria legacy: Measured diplomacy, strategic explosion". BBC. Retrieved January 13, 2017. ^ a b Shear, Michael (June 3, 2015). "In Pushing for Revised Surveillance Program, Obama Strikes His Own Balance". The New York Times. Retrieved December 16, 2015. ^ Lichtblau, Eric & Risen, James (April 15, 2009). "N.S.A.'s Intercepts Exceed Limits Set by Congress". The New York Times. Retrieved April 15, 2009. ^ Cohen, Tom (May 27, 2011). "Obama approves extension of expiring Patriot Act provisions". CNN. Retrieved December 16, 2015. ^ Mezzofiore, Gianluca (June 17, 2013). "NSA Whistleblower Edward Snowden: Washington Snoopers Are Criminals". International Business Times. Retrieved June 30, 2013. ^ Ovide, Shira (June 8, 2013). "U.S. Official Releases Details of Prism Program". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved June 15, 2013. ^ Madison, Lucy (June 19, 2013). "Obama Defends 'Narrow' Surveillance Programs". CBS News. Retrieved June 30, 2013. ^ Thorp, Frank (June 2, 2015). "Barack Obama Signs 'USA Freedom Act' to Reform NSA Surveillance". NBC. Retrieved December 16, 2015. ^ Vogel, Kenneth; Allen, Mike (January 28, 2009). "Obama finds room for lobbyists". Politico. Retrieved August 19, 2016. ^ "Obama White House Discloses Two More Lobbyist Waivers Granted". ABC News. March 10, 2009. ^ Schouten, Fredreka (January 27, 2009). "Geithner names ex-lobbyist as Treasury chief of staff". USA Today. Retrieved February 14, 2009. ^ Gerstein, Josh (December 31, 2015). "How Obama failed to shut Washington's revolving door". Politico. Retrieved August 2, 2016. ^ Eilperin, Juliet (March 22, 2015). "Obama promised to curb the influence of lobbyists. Has he succeeded?". The Washington Post. Retrieved December 16, 2015. ^ a b c d Arnold, Jason Ross (March 16, 2015). "Has Obama delivered the 'most transparent' administration in history?". The Washington Post. Retrieved December 18, 2015. ^ Macon Phillips (January 20, 2009). "Change has come to WhiteHouse.gov". The White House. Archived from the original on January 22, 2009. Retrieved January 26, 2009. ^ "Obama breaks five-day pledge". Politico. February 5, 2009. ^ "Barack Obama Campaign Promise No. 234: Allow five days of public comment before signing bills". Politifact. February 4, 2009. ^ "Executive Order 13489 Presidential Records". The White House. Retrieved January 22, 2009. ^ "New Obama Orders on Transparency, FOIA Requests". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 22, 2009. ^ "The Torturers' Manifesto". The New York Times. April 18, 2009. Retrieved April 19, 2009. ^ Smith, R. Jeffrey (April 19, 2009). "Justice Dept. Memos' Careful Legalese Obscured Harsh Reality". The Washington Post. Retrieved April 19, 2009. ^ Shane, Scott (June 11, 2010). "Obama Takes a Hard Line Against Leaks to Press". The New York Times. ^ "Greenwald: Obama engaged in 'unprecedented war on whistleblowers'". The Washington Post. ^ "Perlstein, Rick (June 20, 2013). "The War on Whistleblowers: On the Sin of Being Correct". The Nation. ^ Nakashima, Ellen (November 29, 2010). "Setback in case against accused NSA leaker". The Washington Post. Retrieved March 10, 2011. ^ Harris, Shane (January 25, 2011). "Indictment Continues Obama administration's War on Leaks". washingtonian. Retrieved March 9, 2011. ^ Shane, Scott (August 27, 2010). "U.S. Analyst Is Indicted in Leak Case". The New York Times. Retrieved March 11, 2011. ^ Maria Glod (May 25, 2010). "Former FBI employee sentenced for leaking classified papers". The Washington Post. Retrieved June 5, 2013. ^ Scott Shane (January 5, 2013). "Ex-Officer Is First From C.I.A. to Face Prison for a Leak". The New York Times. Retrieved January 6, 2013. ^ Paul Adams (February 28, 2013). "Bradley Manning pleads guilty to some Wikileaks charges". BBC News. Retrieved July 16, 2013. ^ Finn, Peter; Horwitz, Sari (June 21, 2013). "U.S. charges Snowden with espionage". The Washington Post. Retrieved June 21, 2013. ^ Fredrickson, Anna (October 6, 2015). "Is Snowden ready to come home?". The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved November 21, 2015. ^ Liptak, Kevin (January 17, 2017). "White House: No Snowden clemency request". CNN. Retrieved January 17, 2017. ^ a b Kane, Paul (November 3, 2010). "Resurgent Republicans take back control of the House". The Washington Post. Retrieved November 18, 2015. ^ Norris, Michele; Siegel, Robert (November 3, 2010). "Obama: Midterm Election Was A 'Shellacking'". NPR. Retrieved April 3, 2011. ^ Giroux, Greg (March 18, 2013). "Republicans Win Congress as Democrats Get Most Votes". Bloomberg. Retrieved November 13, 2015. ^ "US Election 2012 guide: Mitt Romney and Barack Obama's policy positions". The Telegraph. August 17, 2012. Retrieved November 14, 2015. ^ E.M. (April 4, 2011). "Lack of change you can believe in". The Economist. Retrieved November 7, 2012. ^ Giroux, Greg (January 4, 2013). "Final Tally Shows Obama First Since '56 to Win 51% Twice". Bloomberg. Retrieved November 14, 2015. ^ "2012 President Exit Polls". The New York Times. Retrieved November 18, 2015. ^ Montanaro, Domenico (November 5, 2014). "Breaking down the 2014 Republican wave". PBS. Retrieved November 13, 2015. ^ Gay Stolberg, Sheryl (November 12, 2015). "In Obama Era, G.O.P. Bolsters Grip in the States". The New York Times. Retrieved November 13, 2015. ^ Kondik, Kyle (April 17, 2015). "Clinton's Real Opponent: Barack Obama". Politico. Retrieved November 15, 2015. ^ Thrush, Glenn (June 9, 2016). "Why Obama Waited". Politico. Retrieved June 10, 2016. ^ Thrush, Glenn (July 2016). "Party of Two". Politico. Retrieved July 18, 2016. ^ Rhodan, Maya (October 10, 2016). "President Obama Is Now Campaigning for His Legacy". Time. Retrieved October 18, 2016. ^ a b Silverleib, Alan (April 27, 2011). "Obama releases original long-form birth certificate". CNN. Retrieved November 18, 2015. ^ "Democrats Lost Over 1,000 Seats Under Obama". Fox News. December 27, 2016. Retrieved December 27, 2016. ^ Brownstein, Ronald (January 12, 2017). "What Happens to the Democratic Party After Obama?". The Atlantic. Retrieved January 12, 2017. ^ Malone, Claire (January 19, 2017). "Barack Obama Won The White House, But Democrats Lost The Country". Fivethirtyeight. Retrieved January 20, 2017. ^ Naftali, Tim (December 8, 2016). "Why Trump and Obama are phone buddies". CNN. Retrieved December 9, 2016. ^ Wagner, John (December 28, 2016). "Trump accuses Obama of putting up 'roadblocks' to a smooth transition". The Washington Post. Retrieved December 28, 2016. ^ Eilperin, Juliet; Greg, Jaffe (January 10, 2017). "In stark farewell, Obama warns of threat to U. S. democracy". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 11, 2017. ^ Landler, Mark; Bosman, Julie (January 11, 2017). "Obama, Saying Goodbye, Warns of Threats to National Unity". The New York Times. Retrieved January 11, 2017. ^ "Presidential Approval Ratings -- Barack Obama". Gallup. Gallup. Retrieved January 6, 2017. The first poll of the month is used for each table entry. ^ "Barack Obama's initial approval rating is highest since JFK". Los Angeles Times. January 27, 2009. Retrieved January 28, 2009. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Presidential Approval Ratings -- Barack Obama". Gallup. Gallup. Retrieved January 25, 2017.. ^ Netter, Sarah (January 27, 2010). "Racism in Obama's America One Year Later". ABC. Retrieved November 18, 2015. ^ a b Agiesta, Jennifer (September 14, 2015). "Misperceptions persist about Obama's faith, but aren't so widespread". CNN. Retrieved November 18, 2015. ^ "Obama sets record straight on his religion". NBC. Associated Press. January 21, 2008. Retrieved November 18, 2015. ^ Lonnstrom, Douglas A.; Kelly, Thomas O., II (September 2003). "The contemporary presidency: rating the presidents: a tracking study" (PDF). Presidential Studies Quarterly. 33 (3): 625634. doi:10.1111/1741-5705.00009. JSTOR27552516. Retrieved October 7, 2014. ^ United States Presidency Centre, Institute for the Studies of the Americas (January 10, 2011). "Results of first UK scholars' survey of US presidents: George Washington to Barack Obama to be released 17 January 2011". London: University of London School of Advanced Study. Retrieved October 7, 2014. ^ Morgan, Iwan (January 17, 2011). "UK survey of US presidents: results and analysis; Franklin D. Roosevelt comes first; George W. Bush is in bottom ten; Barack Obama is highly rated" (PDF). London: United States Presidency Centre, Institute for the Study of the Americas, University of London School of Advanced Study. Retrieved October 7, 2014. ^ Morgan, Iwan (January 17, 2011). "The top US presidents: first poll of UK experts". London: BBC News. Retrieved October 7, 2014. ^ "From Franklin Delano Roosevelt to John F. Kennedy, Newsweek's 10 best presidents (photos)". The Daily Beast. New York. September 24, 2012. Retrieved October 7, 2014. ^ Kevles, Daniel (Autumn 2012). "The 10 best American presidents; understanding what makes our greatest modern presidents great". Newsweek. pp.2628. ^ "Historians give Barack Obama a B-". Seattle: History News Network. September 10, 2013. Retrieved October 7, 2014. ^ Rottinghaus, Brandon (February 13, 2015). "Measuring Obama against the great presidents". Brookings Institution. Retrieved November 16, 2015. ^ "Measuring Obama against the great presidents | Brookings Institution". Brookings. March 9, 2017. Retrieved March 9, 2017. ^ a b c "10 Historians on What Will Be Said About President Obama's Legacy". Time. January 18, 2017. Retrieved January 19, 2017. ^ a b Lewis, Andrew; Djupe, Paul (January 18, 2017). "How Will Obama Be Graded By History?". Fivethirtyeight. Retrieved January 19, 2017. ^ Feldmann, Linda (January 18, 2017). "Was Barack Obama a transformative president?". Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved January 19, 2017.

Further reading

Main article: Bibliography of Barack Obama .mw-parser-output .refbegin{font-size:90%;margin-bottom:0.5em}.mw-parser-output .refbegin-hanging-indents>ul{list-style-type:none;margin-left:0}.mw-parser-output .refbegin-hanging-indents>ul>li,.mw-parser-output .refbegin-hanging-indents>dl>dd{margin-left:0;padding-left:3.2em;text-indent:-3.2em;list-style:none}.mw-parser-output .refbegin-100{font-size:100%}
  • Alter, Jonathan (2011). The Promise: President Obama, Year One. ISBN978-1439101193.
  • Baker, Peter (2017). Obama: The Call of History. New York Times/Callaway. ISBN978-0935112900.
  • Crotty, William, ed. (2012). The Obama Presidency: Promise and Performance. Lexington Books. ISBN978-0739172346.
  • Dowdle, Andrew; Van Raemdonck, Dirk C.; Maranto, Robert (2011). The Obama Presidency: Change and Continuity. ISBN978-0415887700.
  • Esposito, Luigi; Finley, Laura L. (2012). Grading the 44th President: A Report Card on Barack Obama's First Term as a Progressive Leader. ISBN978-0313398438.
  • Indyk, Martin; Lieberthal, Kenneth; O'Hanlon, Michael E. (2012). Bending History: Barack Obama's Foreign Policy. ISBN978-0815721826.
  • Gates, Robert M. (2014). Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. ISBN978-0307959478.
  • Green, Michael J. By more than providence: grand strategy and American power in the Asia Pacific since 1783 (2017) excerpt pp 518-40.
  • Keller, Morton (2015). Obama's Time: A History. ISBN978-0199383375.
  • McElya, Micki (2011). "To "Choose Our Better History": Assessing the Obama Presidency in Real Time". American Quarterly. 63: 179189. doi:10.1353/aq.2011.0012.
  • Mann, Jim (2012). The Obamians: The Struggle Inside the White House to Redefine American Power. ISBN978-0670023769.
  • Pomante (Ii), Michael J.; Schraufnagel, Scot (2018). Historical Dictionary of the Barack Obama Administration. ISBN978-1538111512.
  • Rockman, Bert A.; Rudalevige, Andrew; Campbell, Colin (July 26, 2011). The Obama Presidency: Appraisals and Prospects. ISBN978-1608716852.
  • Rosenberg, Jerry M. (2012). The Concise Encyclopedia of The Great Recession 20072012. Scarecrow Press 2nd edition 708pp. ISBN9780810883406.
  • Rudalevige, Andrew (2012). ""A Majority is the Best Repartee": Barack Obama and Congress, 2009-2012". Social Science Quarterly. 93 (5): 12721294. doi:10.1111/j.1540-6237.2012.00910.x.
  • Rudalevige, Andrew (2016). "The Contemporary Presidency: The Obama Administrative Presidency: Some Late-Term Patterns". Presidential Studies Quarterly. 46 (4): 868890. doi:10.1111/psq.12323.
  • Skocpol, Theda; Jacobs, Lawrence R. (2012). "Accomplished and Embattled: Understanding Obama's Presidency". Political Science Quarterly. 127: 124. doi:10.1002/j.1538-165X.2012.tb00718.x.
  • "Ambitious Governance, Economic Meltdown, and Polarized Politics in Obama's First Two Years". Reaching for a New Deal. Russell Sage Foundation. 2011. ISBN9780871548559. JSTOR10.7758/9781610447119.
  • Thurber, James A. (2011). Obama in Office. ISBN978-1594519932.
  • Watson, Robert P.; Covarrubias, Jack; Lansford, Tom; Brattebo, Douglas M. (July 2012). The Obama Presidency: A Preliminary Assessment. ISBN978-1-4384-4329-4.
  • Wilson, John K. (2009). President Barack Obama: A More Perfect Union. ISBN978-1594514777.
  • Zelizer, Julian E. (March 13, 2018). The Presidency of Barack Obama: A First Historical Assessment. ISBN978-0691160283.

External links

  • Obama White House archives
  • The Obama White House's channel on YouTube
  • "Obama's People" (photography: Nadav Kander)
  • "President Barack Obama's Inaugural Address". The White House.
  • "Wrapping Up Open for Questions". The White House.
  • "President Obama's State of the Union Address" C-SPAN.
  • Statistics comparing the beginning and ending of the Obama presidency
  • v
  • t
  • e
Barack Obama
  • 44th President of the United States (20092017)
  • U.S. Senator from Illinois (20052008)
  • Illinois Senator from the 13th district (19972004)
Life and politics
  • Early life and career
  • Illinois Senate career
  • 2004 Democratic National Convention
  • U.S. Senate career
  • Political positions
    • Administration foreign policy
    • Economic
    • Energy
    • Loggerhead sea turtles
    • Mass surveillance
    • Social
    • Space
  • Nobel Peace Prize
  • West Wing Week
Presidency
  • Transition
  • 2009 inauguration
  • 2013 inauguration
  • First 100 days
  • Timeline
    • 2009
    • 2010
    • 2011
    • 2012
    • 2013
    • 2014
    • 2015
    • 2016
    • January 2017
  • Foreign policy
    • War in Afghanistan
    • Iraq withdrawal
    • Death of Osama bin Laden
    • Iran deal
    • Cuban thaw
    • Obama Doctrine
  • Health Care reform
  • Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act
  • New START
  • Pardons
  • Presidential trips
    • international
    • 2009
    • 2010
    • 2011
    • 2012
    • 2013
    • 2014
    • 2015
    • 2016
  • Judicial appointments
    • Supreme Court
    • controversies
  • Cabinet
  • Presidential Library and Center
  • Executive Orders
  • Presidential Proclamations
Books
  • Dreams from My Father (1995)
  • The Audacity of Hope (2006)
  • Of Thee I Sing (2010)
Speeches
  • "The Audacity of Hope" (2004)
  • "Yes We Can" (2008)
  • "A More Perfect Union" (2008)
  • "Change Has Come to America" (2008)
  • "A New Birth of Freedom" (2009)
  • Joint session of Congress (2009)
  • "A New Beginning" (2009)
  • Joint session of Congress (health care reform) (2009)
  • State of the Union Address
    • 2010
    • 2011
    • 2012
    • 2013
    • 2014
    • 2015
    • 2016
  • Tucson memorial speech (2011)
  • Joint session of Congress (jobs) (2011)
  • "You didn't build that" (2012)
  • Selma 50th anniversary (2015)
  • Farewell address (2017)
Elections
  • Illinois State Senate election, 1996, 1998, 2002
  • 2000 Illinois's 1st congressional district election
  • 2004 United States Senate election
  • 2008 Democratic presidential primaries
  • 2012
    • 2008 Obama primary campaign
  • 2008 Democratic National Convention
  • 2012
  • Presidential campaign, 2008
    • endorsements
    • GOP/conservative support
  • 2008 Presidential election
  • 2012 Presidential campaign
    • endorsements
  • 2012 Presidential election
    • international reactions
Family
  • Michelle Obama (wife)
  • Ann Dunham (mother)
  • Barack Obama Sr. (father)
  • Lolo Soetoro (step-father)
  • Maya Soetoro-Ng (maternal half-sister)
  • Stanley Armour Dunham (maternal grandfather)
  • Madelyn Dunham (maternal grandmother)
  • Marian Shields Robinson (mother-in-law)
  • Craig Robinson (brother-in-law)
  • Bo (family dog)
  • Sunny (family dog)
Public imageNews and
political events
  • Oprah Winfrey's endorsement
  • Citizenship conspiracy theories
    • litigation
    • legislation
  • Religion conspiracy theories
  • Bill Ayers controversy
  • Jeremiah Wright controversy
  • Republican and conservative support (2008)
  • Assassination threats
    • 2008 Denver
    • 2008 Tennessee
  • First inauguration invitations
  • Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial
  • Citizen's Briefing Book
  • Tea Party protests
  • New Energy for America
  • Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009
  • American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009
  • Gates-Crowley Rose Garden meeting
  • Firing of Shirley Sherrod
  • Impeachment efforts
Books about
  • Bibliography
  • Obama: From Promise to Power
  • Barack Obama: Der schwarze Kennedy
  • Redemption Song
  • The Case Against Barack Obama
  • The Obama Nation
  • Culture of Corruption
  • Catastrophe
  • Barack and Michelle
  • The Speech
  • The Obama Story
  • Game Change
  • Game Change 2012
  • Rising Star
Music
  • Obama Girl
    • "I Got a Crush... on Obama"
  • "Barack the Magic Negro"
  • will.i.am
    • "Yes We Can"
    • "We Are the Ones"
  • "There's No One as Irish as Barack O'Bama"
  • "Si Se Puede Cambiar"
  • "My President"
  • "Deadheads for Obama"
  • "Air and Simple Gifts"
  • Change Is Now
  • Hope! Das Obama Musical
  • "Barack Obama vs. Mitt Romney"
  • Barack's Dubs
  • "Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours"
Film
  • By the People: The Election of Barack Obama (2009)
  • Change (2010)
  • 2016: Obama's America (2012)
  • The Road We've Traveled (2012)
  • Southside with You (2016)
  • Barry (2016)
Other media
  • On social media
  • Artists for Obama
  • "Hope" poster
  • "Joker" poster
  • Situation Room
  • Obama logo
  • In comics
Miscellaneous
  • Barack Obama Day (Illinois)
  • Obama Day (Kenya)
  • Awards and honors
  • Namesakes
  • < George W. Bush
  • Donald Trump >
  • Wikipedia book Book
  • Category Category
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  • e
Presidents of the United States George Washington (17891797) John Adams (17971801) Thomas Jefferson (18011809) James Madison (18091817) James Monroe (18171825) John Quincy Adams (18251829) Andrew Jackson (18291837) Martin Van Buren (18371841) William Henry Harrison (1841) John Tyler (18411845) James K. Polk (18451849) Zachary Taylor (18491850) Millard Fillmore (18501853) Franklin Pierce (18531857) James Buchanan (18571861) Abraham Lincoln (18611865) Andrew Johnson (18651869) Ulysses S. Grant (18691877) Rutherford B. Hayes (18771881) James A. Garfield (1881) Chester A. Arthur (18811885) Grover Cleveland (18851889) Benjamin Harrison (18891893) Grover Cleveland (18931897) William McKinley (18971901) Theodore Roosevelt (19011909) William Howard Taft (19091913) Woodrow Wilson (19131921) Warren G. Harding (19211923) Calvin Coolidge (19231929) Herbert Hoover (19291933) Franklin D. Roosevelt (19331945) Harry S. Truman (19451953) Dwight D. Eisenhower (19531961) John F. Kennedy (19611963) Lyndon B. Johnson (19631969) Richard Nixon (19691974) Gerald Ford (19741977) Jimmy Carter (19771981) Ronald Reagan (19811989) George H. W. Bush (19891993) Bill Clinton (19932001) George W. Bush (20012009) Barack Obama (20092017) Donald Trump (2017present) Presidency timelines
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Authority control Edit this at Wikidata
  • LCCN: no2008168642
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