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The politics of bad-mouthing everything

Practical Politics

David L. Horne, PH.D. | 12/22/2016, midnight

Reports recently have decried how bad things are in the USA because of the Obama administration. That description flies in the face of obvious facts. Let’s count some of the ways.

National unemployment is now down below 5 percent (4.6 percent), and it was almost 10 percent, when Mr. Obama came into office in 2009. Private sector job growth has increased every month but one since Mr. Obama became president, and the heretofore steadily rising national deficit has actually been reduced under the former illinois senator.

Yes, the overall economic recovery rate has been slower than expected, but the recession of 2007-9 was very, very deep and measurable economic growth has, in fact, occurred and is occurring. Overall, under the leadership of this president, in terms of employment and growth, the U.S. has progressed faster and done as well, if not better, than all the rest of the countries in the developed world.

Certainly, income inequality has not gotten better under Mr. Obama or really any other president in the last 40 years, and it remains a sticky problem. Coming out of the recession, it is a fact that the wealthy have done much better than most of the middle class and the poor. One reason is that a lot of the new jobs offered don’t pay very well, and Mr. Obama has not been able to get Congress to increase the national minimum wage (although the chief executive ordered a higher minimum wage for all federal workers).

But the good news is that according to a new federal report, median household income increased by more than 5 percent from 2014 to 2015, which is the largest single-year increase ever recorded. Hopefully, that is indicative of a trend. Additionally, the national poverty rate also went down significantly during that same period.

Together, these rates are hopefully a harbinger of better times for the poor and middle class in this country, if that progress is not rudely interrupted by the incoming administration.

Although national incomes aren’t yet back up to the level they had achieved before the recession, national poverty has not fallen back to where it was, either. But still, the USA is doing better overall than it was before Mr. Obama became president.

In terms of national health care, which is a real measure of economic health and well-being, the proportion of Americans with health insurance now is at the highest level in the history of the country. More Americans also now have better access to medical care and more protection from crushing medical bills than ever before. They also cannot be refused care because of pre-existing conditions as in the past. This is a result of Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act, which the new administration has vowed to repeal and replace. That is most likely the roar of the cowardly lion and probably will not happen. It is far too popular a program.

In terms of the crime rate, in spite of unproven quotes to the contrary, the national crime rate is down and trending that way. In fact, a national expert reported to Politifact this summer, that “There are some spikes in homicide and shootings in certain cities, yet other cities continue to experience low rates. As a nation, we are far better off than at any time for the past several decades. Crime rates are low, and there is no consistent and reliable indication that things are getting worse.”

Gasoline and heating oil prices are way down. Teenage births are seriously declining, and the smoking rate is lower than it has ever been. Even the so-called illegal or undocumented population is at a much lower level than any time in the last 10 years, in spite of much hoopla that it is not, according to the Pew Research Center.

Overall, the leadership Mr. Obama is handing off is of a country succeeding, not failing—winning, not losing. Let’s see how long it stays that way after Jan. 20, 2017.

Professor David L. Horne is founder and executive director of PAPPEI, the Pan African Public Policy and Ethical Institute, which is a new 501(c)(3) pending community-based organization or non-governmental organization (NGO). It is the stepparent organization for the California Black Think Tank which still operates and which meets every fourth Friday.

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