Here are some of President Barack Obama’s achievements over his past four years as president. This list was compiled earlier this year by the Washington Monthly, a publication based in Washington, D.C.
1. Passed health care reform
After five presidents over a century failed to create universal health insurance, President Barack Obama signed the Affordable Care Act (2010). It will cover 32 million uninsured Americans beginning in 2014 and mandates a suite of experimental measures to cut health care cost growth, the No. 1 cause of America’s long-term fiscal problems.
2. Passed the stimulus
Obama signed $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009 to spur economic growth amid greatest recession since the Great Depression.
Weeks after the stimulus went into effect, unemployment claims began to subside. Twelve months later, the private sector began producing more jobs than it was losing, and it has continued to do so. (Millions of new private-sector jobs have been created.)
3. Passed Wall Street Reform
The president signed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (2010) to re-regulate the financial sector after its practices caused the Great Recession. The new law tightens capital requirements on large banks and other financial institutions, requires derivatives to be sold on clearinghouses and exchanges, mandates that large banks provide “living wills” to avoid chaotic bankruptcies, limits their ability to trade with customers’ money for their own profit, and creates the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to crack down on abusive lending products and companies.
4. Ended the war in Iraq
Obama ordered all U.S. military forces out of the country. The last troops left on Dec. 18, 2011.
5. Began drawdown of the war in Afghanistan
From a peak of 101,000 troops in June 2011, U.S. forces were down to 91,000 (in April), with 23,000 slated to leave by the end of September 2012. According to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, the combat mission there will be over by next year.
6. Eliminated Osama bin laden
In 2011, Obama ordered the special forces raid of secret compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, in which the terrorist leader was killed and a trove of al-Qaeda documents was discovered.
7. Turned around U.S. auto industry
In 2009, $62 billion in federal money (on top of $13.4 billion in loans from the Bush administration) was injected into ailing GM and Chrysler in return for equity stakes and agreements for massive restructuring. Since bottoming out in 2009, the auto industry has added more than 100,000 jobs. In 2011, the Big Three automakers all gained market share for the first time in two decades. The government expects to lose $16 billion of its investment, less if the price of the GM stock it still owns increases.
8. Recapitalized banks
In the midst of financial crisis, a controversial Treasury Department plan was approved to lure private capital into the country’s largest banks via “stress tests” of their balance sheets and a public-private fund to buy their “toxic” assets. Banks got back on their feet at essentially zero cost to the government.
9. Repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”
The Obama administration ended 1990s-era restriction and formalized new policy allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military for the first time.
10. Toppled Moammar Gaddafi
In March 2011, the U.S. joined a coalition of European and Arab governments in military action, including air power and naval blockade, against Gaddafi regime to defend Libyan civilians and support rebel troops. Gaddafi’s 42-year rule ended when the dictator was overthrown and killed by rebels on Oct. 20, 2011. No American lives were lost.
For Washington Monthly’s complete list of 50 Obama accomplishments, visit www.washingtonmonthly.com/magazine/march_april_2012/features/obamas_top_50_accomplishments035755.php.