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Re-elect Barack Obama

Adam Newman | Monday, November 5, 2012

“This is our moment. This is our time – to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American Dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth – that out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope, and where we are met with cynicism and doubt and those who tell us that we can’t, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes, we can.”

This is an excerpt from the victory speech delivered by President-elect Barack Obama at Grant Park in Chicago, Ill. It was seen as a historic night not only because America had elected their first African-American president, but also because they elected a man who had the ability to be a “transformative president.” Four years later, many people do not believe, or are unsure if Barack Obama should be re-elected. To those, I present the case to re-elect President Barack Obama.

Obama came into office in the middle of the worst economic crisis in our lifetime. The stock market had declined from its high of over 14,000 points in October 2007 to 7,949 the day he took office. In the fourth quarter of 2008, the economy contracted at a rate of nine percent, and when he took office it was contracting at a rate of seven percent. In the first three months of his presidency, the economy lost an average of 750,000 jobs. While politically unpopular, the Recovery Act (better known as the stimulus) helped stop the decline through tax breaks, infrastructure projects and assistance to states. Within months, the economy had come back from the brink and was growing. Jobs growth would come later – albeit not as strongly as hoped. The CBO estimated that as a result of the stimulus, between 1.5 and 3.3 million more people were employed, unemployment was between 0.7 and 1.7 percent lower than it would have been without it and the level of GDP was higher by up to 4.5 percent.

Against political advice and lessons from history, Obama took on health care reform. Many people believe that this was a mistake during an economic downturn. But these people are misinformed. America’s health care system is a ticking time bomb that needs reform, and the only time a president can do it is in his first two years in office. Health care reform has been attempted by seven other presidents, including FDR. All have failed, but Obama succeeded in pushing for universal coverage while helping contain costs in the long term.

Obama has many other successes. He restructured the auto industry, which helped provide liquidity during the worst of the recession when private firms – like Bain Capital – would not loan money. Obama passed the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and was within striking distance of a historic long-term deficit reduction deal with House Speaker John Boehner that ended due to Tea Party opposition.

Moreover, Obama has pursued an excellent foreign policy. He has overseen the removal of American troops from Iraq and created the framework to bring troops home from Afghanistan in 2014. His preference for targeted drone strikes versus large-scale occupations has been a much better use of American resources at a time when Americans are tired after a decade of war. His shift of resources from the Middle East to the Pacific reflects a 21st-century foreign policy that will balance the rise of China. With that being said, his greatest accomplishment was overseeing the mission to kill Bin Laden. Many wrongly believe that this was an easy call. Many of Obama’s advisors – CIA chief Leon Panetta, Defense Secretary Bob Gates and Vice President Joe Biden all advised against it at that time. A failed mission with American deaths and no Bin Laden would have meant plummeting poll numbers.  

Obama should not just be re-elected for what has done, but for what he will do. Reports suggest that the Obama administration will gear up for one last reform – most likely the immigration system, by humanely dealing with the 12 million undocumented immigrants who are here now.

Obama came into office at a time of economic crisis. He not only led us out of it, but he also began to lay the framework for a 21st-century economy and executed a brilliant foreign policy. In terms of accomplishments, leadership and vision, there is no doubt that Obama should serve another term as the president of the United States.

Adam Newman is a senior political science major. He can be reached at anewman3@nd.edu

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.