President Barack Obama – A Look Back on the Issues

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President Barack Obama at a Democratic campaign rally on July 5, 2015 in Charlotte, NC.
Source: Evan El-Amin, “Charlotte, NC, USA – July 5, 2016,” shutterstock.com, July 5, 2016

As President Barack Obama readies to leave office, we look back on his policies, actions, and laws related to ProCon.org topics. Next week we will review President-Elect Donald Trump’s positions as he prepares for his inauguration on Jan. 20, 2017.

Nov. 4, 2008: Obama won the 2008 election and was inaugurated on Jan. 20, 2009 as the 44th President of the United States.

Feb 17, 2009: Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which contained billions in energy investments, including funds for alternative energy.

Mar. 23, 2010: Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA or Obamacare) into law.

July 19, 2011: The Obama administration announced it would support repeal of DOMA (the Defense of Marriage Act), the federal law that limited marriage to between one man and one woman.

May 9, 2012: Obama became the first sitting president to support gay marriage.

June 25, 2012: Obama signed the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) into law, which prevents undocumented immigrants that immigrated to the United States as children from being deported.

2009-2012: Obama ordered about 280 military drone strikes in Pakistan.

Nov. 6, 2012: Obama won the 2012 election and was inaugurated on Jan. 21, 2012.

May 16, 2013: Obama tweeted “Ninety-seven percent of scientists agree: #climate change is real, man-made and dangerous.”

Feb. 14, 2014: Obama set federal guidelines to allow banks to provide financial services to marijuana sellers in states where marijuana is legal.

Nov. 20, 2014: Obama issued an executive order to stop the deportation of about 4.7 million undocumented immigrants.

Dec. 17, 2014: Obama restored full diplomatic relations with Cuba for the first time since 1961.

Dec. 17, 2014: Obama signed a law blocking the Justice Department from spending money to enforce the federal ban on growing or selling marijuana in the states that have legal medical marijuana.

Aug. 3, 2015: Obama announced the Clean Power Plan, imposing first the nationwide limits on carbon dioxide emissions from power plants.

Nov. 6, 2015: Obama denied the application to build the Keystone XL Pipeline for a second time. The application was originally denied on Jan. 18, 2012.

Jan. 5, 2016: Obama issued executive actions on gun control to update and expand background checks, add 200 ATF agents, and increase mental health funding, among other provisions.

In his farewell speech on Jan. 10, 2017, Obama spoke to one of our major concerns at ProCon.org – the problem of increasing partisanship. He said: “For too many of us, it’s become safer to retreat into our own bubbles, whether in our neighborhoods or college campuses or places of worship or especially our social media feeds, surrounded by people who look like us and share the same political outlook and never challenge our assumptions. The rise of naked partisanship, and increasing economic and regional stratification, the splintering of our media into a channel for every taste – all this makes this great sorting seem natural, even inevitable. And increasingly, we become so secure in our bubbles that we accept only information, whether true or not, that fits our opinions, instead of basing our opinions on the evidence that’s out there.

This trend represents a third threat to our democracy. Politics is a battle of ideas. That’s how our democracy was designed. In the course of a healthy debate, we’ll prioritize different goals, and the different means of reaching them. But without some common baseline of facts, without a willingness to admit new information, and concede that your opponent is making a fair point, and that science and reason matter, then we’re going to keep talking past each other, and we’ll make common ground and compromise impossible…

It falls to each of us to be those anxious, jealous guardians of our democracy; to embrace the joyous task we’ve been given to continually try to improve this great nation of ours. Because for all our outward differences, we, in fact, all share the same proud title: Citizen. That’s what our democracy demands. It needs you. Not just when there’s an election, not just when your own narrow interest is at stake, but over the full span of a lifetime. If you’re tired of arguing with strangers on the Internet, try to talk with one of them in real life.”

Jan. 20, 2017: Obama’s term in office ends as Donald Trump is inaugurated 45th President of the United States.


Source: CNN, “President Obama Farewell Address: Full Text,” cnn.com, Jan. 11, 2017