The Obama Legacy: Debt, Division and War

While many consider Obama to be the flyest president America has ever seen, his actions suggest that ‘slyest’ might be a better description.

By Jeffrey Cope, Texas State University


Despite where you may stand politically, we should all agree that no public representative should be exempt of accountability.

As a relatively free society, we the people ought to be encouraged to be vigilant and critical of our leaders. Therefore, as we approach the end of the Obama administration, let’s review what the 44th president has achieved.

For those who are under the impression that the Obama administration is undeserving of harsh criticism, you very well may be the result of just how sly the president has been—that, or you have maintained such a level of political ignorance that for nearly the last decade, you have failed to form any critical thoughts about the actions of the president.

In order to examine the legacy of the Obama administration, we will focus on a list of topics that encompasses a few of the responsibilities held by the office of president. When determining the historical legacy of a president, these issue are, without a doubt, worthy of the public’s attention. Obama has accomplished far more than just having been the first president to be black, promise free healthcare and help legalize gay marriage.

1. Economics

When President Bush left office, the national debt sat at around $10 trillion. Today, just days before Obama leaves office, the national debt sits at about $20 trillion. So, in just a matter of eight years, Obama managed to double America’s debt, which had previously taken over 200 years, and 43 presidents, to accumulate.

Not good to say the least, but I imagine people will just continue to blame Bush.

A Critical Look at the Legacy of the 44th President

The National Debt Clock above the IRS Building (Image via TIME)

While racking up nearly $10 trillion in debt, Obama did little to improve the nation’s infrastructure or social welfare, spending less than half a billion dollars on state highways, and instead choosing to enrich big banks, multinational corporations and the military industrial complex. Such a massive increase in debt, with so little to show for it, is a clear indicator of poor economic management, which usually leads to an overall poor presidential legacy.

Although, in Obama’s defense, I will say that the Federal Reserve possibly holds most of the blame here, which is a whole separate issue. But even so, President Obama should have mitigated some of the spending, because now, future economic instability is an absolute certainty.

Will Trump be able to place the blame for his difficulties on his predecessor as Obama had done with Bush? For some reason, I doubt it.

2. Healthcare

Perhaps the most publicized debacle and sleight of hand of the Obama administration was Obamacare.

No, the legislation does not simply grant free healthcare for everyone. The bill is actually a government mandate that requires individuals to purchase health insurance, lest they suffer a tax penalty. Which means the insurance industry successfully lobbied the government to pass a law, which was drafted by insurance companies, to make people buy their product or face financial punishment.

A Critical Look at the Legacy of the 44th President

Image via Charlotte Observer

Obama lied on multiple occasions about his healthcare plan, saying that if people liked their doctors they could keep them and that the costs would not increase. But, as we have come to find out, none of this was true.

In fact, a primary architect of Obamacare, Jonathan Gruber, said himself that the administration had to lie to the stupid American voter in order to pass the bill.

The legislation was so cumbersome that few, if any, members of Congress were able read it in its entirety before it was passed. Even Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, said that they would have to pass the bill before they could know what was in it. Plus, even after passing the legislation, the Obama administration has continued to make changes.

Because of such legislative manipulation, the collaboration between government and big business, and the failed website that cost taxpayers billions of dollars, the effort to remove Obamacare is already underway. So much for the legacy of Obama’s health insurance mandate.

3. Executive Legislation

The 249 executive orders signed into law by Obama is a rather astonishing number, especially given his election promise to curb such actions made by prior presidents. Obama never completely implemented any of these powers, aside from waging war without congressional approval of course.

Nonetheless, he did sign them into law, which means that one day a particularly controversial person might become president and can then legally assume these vast, pre-existing, almost dictatorial powers. And there will be little the citizens can do about it.

With Donald Trump as president, I would imagine there is quite a bit of fear arising in those who passively accepted such a large power grab by the ever-so-cool Obama administration. Let’s hope these portions of his legacy are never fulfilled, or, better yet, they are removed.

4. Warfare

To his critics, Obama is sometime referred to as the Drone King, O’bomb-ya, the greatest gun salesmen in the world, the creator of ISIS or the over-thrower of foreign governments. If you have another similar name, Obama has probably done something to earn the title.

But how can that be? Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize! Well, as it turns out, Obama’s legacy is also historically significant because he is also the first president to have been in a state of war every single day of his presidency.

A Critical Look at the Legacy of the 44th President

Obama accepting the Peace Prize (Image via Truth and Action)

In 2016 alone, the Peace Prize recipient dropped at least 26,171 bombs (that’s three bombs every hour and every day for a year) onto seven different countries. His preferred method of bombing—the use of drone strikes—were shown by leaked documents to have landed on hospitals, funerals and weddings, leading to a majority of the deaths they caused being those of innocent civilians. But, thanks to a compliant media, the American public has little-to-no idea about this.

ISIS and the migrant crisis happened for a reason. Years of U.S. intervention in the Middle East, by multiple presidents, is causing tremendous backlash. And the amount of money—at least four trillion dollars—that has been used in these military exploits undoubtedly makes up a sizable percentage of the national debt, which again jeopardizes the future peace and finical stability of America.

Obama’s administration also continued to send billions of dollars in aid and weaponry to multiple countries as well as questionable rebel groups with known ties to terrorist organizations. How can that be allowed to happen? After all, right here in the United States, places like Chicago, Detroit and Flint are in desperate need of such monetary resources and improved infrastructure. Obama seems more akin to a warlord than a man of peace.

5. Foreign Relations

In a surreal display of order out of chaos, countries such as Libya, Egypt, Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Ukraine and many others, as well Latin American countries, have all felt the devastating effects of U.S. intervention.

Typically promoted under the guise of spreading freedom, democracy or economic benefits, the U.S. has systematically destabilized these nations and has created hotbeds for criminal and terrorist activity. In other words, the U.S. government has created a never-ending money pit for the military industrial complex, something that former President Eisenhower warned against as he himself left office.

Yet, despite such a lengthy history of meddling in foreign affairs, which has been continued and expanded under the Obama administration, U.S. government representatives have had the audacity to try and accuse and publicly shame Russia for meddling in other nation’s affairs, not to mention accusing them of war crimes. I’m not saying Russia is entirely innocent of such accusations, but the hypocrisy of the U.S. is humiliating on the global stage.

A Critical Look at the Legacy of the 44th President

Obama and Putin (Image via CNN)

But according to the traditional method of operation, the U.S. will likely attempt to avoid any of the blame for instigating, and possibly even igniting, the powder keg the world now rests on. And seeing how Obama’s initial Secretary of State appointee, Hillary Clinton, played an integral role in this destabilization, it should be no qonder why the U.S. is now contemplating mass censorship to counter the fake news epidemic, which only came after Clinton lost the election.

6. Media, Journalism and Surveillance

Obama has claimed to have presided over the most transparent administration ever. Well, I’m sorry to burst anyone’s bubble, but that’s just not true, not even in the slightest.

Just because has Obama appeared on multiple television shows does not mean he is being honest with the public. If anything, Obama simply began a sort of merging of government and entertainment, using celebrities to promote political agendas. I suppose such a combination is nothing new, but man did we see a lot of it during his administration, especially during the election. Obama could be considered America’s first celebrity president; or, at least he paved the way for a more sensational and orange-colored celebrity.

A Critical Look at the Legacy of the 44th President

Image via Slate

Journalism also suffer greatly under Obama; many major media outlets have openly sacrificed their journalistic duty and integrity in order to show their support for their particular party candidate. The media bias has gotten so obvious that even Trump decided to call out “CNN” as fake news, and is considering allowing alternative media outlets into the White House pressroom, which, if you’re unaware, makes a little sense, seeing how time-after-time such major media outlets have been caught misleading their viewers.

Anyone remember the story about babies being thrown out of incubators? A story proven that was later proven to be false was pushed by major media outlets to persuade the public to accept the Persian Gulf War. Or perhaps some may remember when we were told about weapons of mass destruction? Fear of weapons that did not exist was perpetuated by the media, and eventually took us into the Iraq war. Even now, we’re seeing these same entities perpetuating what seem to be more false claims, this time aimed at taking us to war with Russia, or at least Syria.

Obama also arrested seven people under the Espionage Act, more than any other president combined, in an attempt to crack down on whistleblowers such as Chelsea Manning, which would explain why Edward Snowden felt he had to flee the country in order to inform the American public of the true extent of the U.S. surveillance apparatus, an entity which the National Security Administration (NSA), the CIA and President Obama, all blatantly lied about.

Also, on December 30, 2016, just before the end of the year, while the public was consumed with the holidays, Obama again quietly passed legislation involving the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that repealed the propaganda laws in the U.S, thus legally allowing the U.S. government to use propaganda on its citizens in order to combat alleged Russian propaganda, which is what Obama and the CIA now claim to be the cause of Clinton losing election—not the five FBI investigations.

7. Cold War

I’ll happily admit that one good thing Obama has not done, as far as acts of war are concerned, is drop a nuclear bomb. But what he has done is stir up cold war rhetoric with Russia, which does have the potential for such a nuclear conflict. In fact, under Obama the world has been placed nearly as close as it’s ever been to a possible nuclear war—three minutes away from midnight, according to the atomic doomsday clock, on which midnight represents a nuclear apocalypse.

But before leaving office it seems that Obama is desperately trying to complicate a Trump transition, most notably by provoking Russia and insinuating that they hacked the election, an assertion that effectively undermines Trump’s legitimacy and the stability of democracy in the U.S., a misguided move considering the controversial and divisive election that has just taken place.

And, despite providing zero evidence to the American public regarding the Russian intervention, Obama has decided to retaliate against Russia by expelling Russian diplomats, imposing economic sanctions and even most recently beginning to amass troops along the border of Russia.

Is this just political saber-rattling that will ultimately calm down after Trump takes office? I hope so. Or is this the pre-positioning of the chess pieces before the strike?

8. Trump

Speaking of Donald Trump, the president-elect has become the cherry on top of the seemingly terrible legacy of the soon-to-be former President. But in addition to Trump’s election, Congress itself underwent a significant shift, a likely effect of the prior eight years of the Obama administration. Sweeping elections results occurred nationwide, in which over 1,000 government seats were lost by Democrats to Republicans.

A Critical Look at the Legacy of the 44th President

Image via BGR

Ouch! Such a dramatic adjustment between political parties without a doubt testifies to just how poorly Obama’s legacy is viewed, but the shift is also a bad sign for the legacy of the Democratic Party in general.

But hey, let’s just blame the Russians.