Obama leaves lasting impression on Oval Office
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The year was 2008 and the first ever African American president was moving into the Oval Office. A long eight-year journey laid ahead, and he had made big promises to the American people. The major successes and failures of Barack Obama’s presidency have defined the truly unique eight years he served as President of the United States.
Perhaps the most distinguishing accomplishment of his presidency was universal health care. The Affordable Care Act (ACA), otherwise known as Obamacare, set out to improve access to health care as well as curb spending through regulations and taxes. Regulations that were put into place included; patients were not denied coverage for preexisting conditions, young adults could stay on their parents insurance plan until age 26, Medicaid eligibility was expanded and gender discrimination was eliminated.
As of early 2016, the ACA, provided approximately 20 million people with health care according to the Department of Health and Human Services.
Stacy Daniel, the president of the Black Student Union said in an interview with The Suffolk Journal that she supports the ACA.
“It insured those who probably wouldn’t ever have health insurance,” said Daniel. “It helped those who could not afford it, so they received subsidies for reduced premiums. There currently is no better option in place, and that speaks for itself.”
The ACA was far from perfect. Some people viewed Obamacare as an infringement on personal freedom since individuals were required to be covered, or pay a fine for noncompliance. Prior to this law, people had the choice on whether they wanted health insurance or not. This put financial pressure on low-income families who previously chose to not purchase insurance.
Suffolk freshman Matthew O’Brien said in an interview on Thursday with The Journal that newly inaugurated President Donald Trump is going to provide solutions to these issues.
“[Health care] needs to be more of a free-market option,” said O’Brien. “Insurance companies can bargain for the best price to give the consumer the best product, because after all that is the object of capitalism, to provide the best product at the lowest possible price.”
One of Trump’s campaign promises was to repeal and replace Obamacare with a new plan that he claims to be working on. On the day of his inauguration, Trump signed an executive order to begin rolling back the ACA.
According to the executive order, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, and the heads of all other executive departments and agencies with authorities and responsibilities under the Act have the authority to provide flexibility to states in regards to the regulations of Obamacare. According to the order, Trump’s goal of the Patient Protection and ACA is to minimize the economic burden while they are pending repeal.
Daniel said she is optimistic about the future of health care in the U.S.
“It’s very sad to see all the hard work of an administration just be reversed,” she said. “But like President Obama said, if they have a better plan, that works and is viable – I will be the first to applaud it. Same goes for me.”
Obama left the White House with a pro-environment legacy. In 2015, the Climate Accord in Paris was approved by 195 countries that vowed to lower their greenhouse gas emissions in order to combat the adverse effects of climate change on the Earth.
In an address from the White House, Obama said, “This agreement sends a powerful signal that the world is fully committed to a low-carbon future.”
With this deal, Obama intended to lead the country away from non-renewable resources and towards cleaner energy such as wind, solar, and nuclear power.
On Dec. 22, 2010 Obama repealed the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy. This was a huge step forward for LGBT rights. Obama’s action brought an end to discrimination against gay, lesbian, and bisexual individuals from serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.
A key characteristic of Obama’s administration was that he had the most diverse cabinet in terms of race and gender in history. His cabinet consisted of eight white males, four white women, three non-white women and seven non-white males. Trump’s cabinet picks are the least diverse since Ronald Reagan was president. If his nominees are confirmed, 17 positions will be filled by white males, two white females, two non-white females, and one non-white male.
O’Brien sees diversity in Trump’s cabinet in a different way.
“People are more focused on the gender or ethnicity of a candidate, rather than their ideas and I think that that’s such a problem,” said O’Brien. “We’re so focused on identity politics in 2017 that we can’t even have a conversation about policy. President Trump’s cabinet may be the least ethnically diverse and in terms of gender but I think we’re going to see that it’s very diverse in terms of ideology.”
While Obama was ultimately successful with the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, otherwise known as DACA, he has received some backlash for his immigration policies. DACA provides undocumented immigrants with work permits and a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation, as long as they were brought to the U.S. as children.
Obama will also go down in history as having deported the most undocumented immigrants from the U.S. during his presidency. Over the course of his eight years in office, over 2.8 million people were deported according to a report by NBC News.