I can remember quite vividly the days during the 2016 presidential when Hillary Clinton was portrayed as a “third term of Obama.” Considering the current disaster in the White House, a third Obama term would be quite welcome and be a major step in returning some dignity to the American presidency.
When considering what was accomplished by President Obama during a time in which the Republicans held a majority in both houses of Congress as compared to a Trump administration which has the benefit of that same Republican majority in both houses, one can only be amazed at the magnitude of the difference.
After a campaign filled with promises to repeal and replace Obama’s signature healthcare reform, Trump failed to come up with a replacement bill that even his own party could rally behind. Obama, on the other hand, succeeded in signing into law a comprehensive national health insurance bill that had eluded his predecessors for decades.
Considering the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. “Obamacare,” withstood both Congressional resistance as well as Supreme Court scrutiny, the achievement known as Obamacare is truly monumental. Now we need to bring down premiums by requiring participation of healthcare insurers and for them to remain in the healthcare exchanges to increase competition. Withholding cost-sharing-reduction payments to insurers, as Trump is threatening to do, will, of course, have the reverse effect and result in more insurers leaving the exchanges thereby driving up premiums and see fewer choices for health insurance by those who need it most.
The Affordable Care Act, as significant an accomplishment as it was, was by no means the only Obama achievement. Signing the Paris Climate Accord was a major step in having the United States join 197 other nations to tackle the reality that is climate change.
Walking away from the accord to join Syria and Nicaragua (both of which have since joined the accord), as was done by Trump, only served to isolate the United States from the efforts of the rest of the world and to shirk our responsibility to address this global threat as a part of a global team.
Leadership on the international stage is something that has always been in the bailiwick of the U.S. presidency. Turning one’s back on that responsibility makes it much more challenging to be part of the solution.
The signing of the Iran Nuclear Deal was extremely controversial. Trump’s campaign rhetoric described it as one of the worst deals ever. However, all indications are that Iran has abided by the agreement and that the inspections that are at the core of the agreement have succeeded in halting Iran’s nuclear development.
How welcome would a similar agreement with North Korea be? How welcome would a negotiated settlement with North Korea be as compared to the current saber-rattling by the two competing autocrats, Trump and Kim Jong Un? Since China, as well as Russia for that matter, was a key signatory of the Iran deal, the focus needs to be on getting China and Trump’s good friend Vladimir Putin to broker the deal with North Korea.
Antagonizing concerned parties, as Trump can’t help himself from doing, is not an element of effective “deal making.” We will see what saber-rattling he chooses to engage in during his Asia trip.
Trump takes undue credit about how well the stock market is doing under his presidency; however, it was Obama whose stimulus package reversed the recession of 2008. That stimulus bill included major investment in our education programs, our clean energy programs, and anti-poverty programs. Moreover, the passage of the Dodd-Frank Act brought with it Wall Street reforms to prevent the recurrence of a similar recession like the one that came to a head in 2008.
Trump? Roll all of these protections back and I mean all of them.
On a more social level, Obama ended the ban on gay and lesbian service in the military.
Trump? Kick transgender members out of the military.
On income inequality, Obama raised the top income tax rate.
Trump? Eliminate the individual mandate on health care to provide the ultra-wealthy with a tax break and lower the top tax rate on the wealthy which, by coincidence, includes Trump and his family members.
The current Republican tax plan which eliminates or reduces deductions for state and local taxes as well as mortgage interest and property taxes will hurt the middle class homeowners to make up the revenue lost by lowering the tax rate on those at the top of the income scale.
Once an oligarch, always an oligarch.
On the international stage, Obama made it a central theme of his administration to open dialogue with all members of the international community. He famously opened the doors with Cuba after more than 50 years of basically “shunning” Cuba.
Trump, on the other hand, has alienated leaders of nations who have been our staunchest allies for decades. His relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin is a whole other issue.
What is revealing is Trump’s praising of various dictatorial world leaders in addition to Putin such as the leaders of such nations as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey and President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines, at the very time he is alienating our closest allies of NATO while also condemning other autocrats such as Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.
What could be the difference? What could be the standard he uses to distinguish his treatment of one autocrat from another? Could it possibly be Trump’s real estate holdings? I have seen the building of the Philippine Trump Tower. Sad, really sad.
Another glaring example of the impact of Trump’s fixation on undoing Obama’s legacy above all else is the Trade Pacific Partnership (TPP). As a result of the “great dealmaker” pulling out of the TPP, Japan, one of Trump’s new best friends, imposed a 50 percent tariff on American beef. Australia, a member of the TPP, gets a 27.5 percent tariff on beef.
Trump’s hatred for Obama cost the United States billions of dollars towards balancing the trade deficit. When you go it alone, you stand alone.
Reversing the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) which results in penalizing individuals who have spent their entire lives in the United States having been brought here as children simply because it was an Obama-era program or failing to keep Janet Yellen as Chair of the Federal Reserve simply because she was an Obama appointee further serves to demonstrate that at the core of this president’s agenda is to say never mind to anything Obama, regardless of who it hurts.
I would be remiss if I did not include Trump’s hypocrisy regarding gun safety. At a news conference during his Asia trip, Trump characterized the Sutherland Springs shooting, which had occurred a day earlier, as “a mental health problem at the highest level” and not “a guns situation.” This is the same Trump who repealed an Obama-era regulation that prevented elderly people with mental health conditions from buying firearms.
During the 2016 presidential election Hillary Clinton overwhelmingly won the New York vote. I strongly suggest that the vote of New York is more telling than the votes of any other state because New York is the home state of both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. New Yorkers knew Hillary Clinton as the Senator that represented them in Congress; New Yorkers knew Donald Trump as the wheeling, dealing conman with questionable values.
How SAD that the rest of the country didn’t pay attention to what New Yorkers knew all too well. Oh, for a third term of Obama. Oh, for the days when the occupant of the White House garnered respect and exhibited dignity and integrity.