President Barack Obama's term will be coming to an end in late January when President-elect Donald Trump is set to take office. Here, Obama answers questions from the press for the first time since the historic 2016 presidential election in the Press Briefing room of the White House on Nov. 14 in Washington, D.C. TNS
The last eight years: recap of the Obama administration
With President Obama’s term coming to an end and President-elect Donald Trump set to take office in late January, here’s a look back on how the world has changed since Obama stepped foot into the White House.
Affordable Care Act (Obamacare)
This piece of legislation enacted by Obama attempted to reform health care by providing more benefits and covering more people. The controversial act ensures that everyone, regardless of their current health condition, can receive the insurance. It also makes insurance premiums go up for those who already had private insurance. A poll by Gallup estimates that as many as 9.9 million people have gotten new health insurance. The plan has angered many people who have experienced increased premiums as a result of the plan, and it has also received criticism for making some pay a penalty rate if they don’t wish to be part of the program.
Osama bin Laden’s death
The leader of al-Qaida and the man responsible for the 9/11 attacks was captured and killed in 2011, in an effort led by the U.S. government. This was the end of a decade-long manhunt, and was seen as a symbolic victory for the families of 9/11 victims. Obama called it a triumph of justice, saying “we will be relentless in defense of our citizens and our friends and allies.”
When Obama took office in 2009, the country was in the midst of a deep financial crisis. Since then, the unemployment rate has decreased from 10 percent to 4.6 percent, with the creation of over 11 million jobs and 42 straight months of economic growth. During Obama’s administration, the economy has also expanded at an annual rate of 3.2 percent.
However, income inequality between the richest and the poorest people in the nation is high, with 48 percent of Americans considered to be poor or in poverty. Between 2006 and 2011, the total assets of the six largest U.S. banks increased by 39 percent, while the six heirs of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton have a combined net worth that is about equal to the bottom 30 percent of all Americans combined.
Release of non-violent drug offenders
Stringent mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent drug offenders have been criticized for leading to inflated prison populations and for being too severe. These minimums can lead to lifelong sentences for those who have been caught with minor drug offenses. According to a nationwide poll commissioned by American Civil Liberties Union, seven out of 10 Americans want to reduce the nation’s prison population, which surpasses the population of every other country on Earth.
In the last year, Obama has granted clemency to nearly 600 federal inmates — the most sentences that have been commuted in one year in U.S. history.
Iran Nuclear Deal
Mass deportation of immigrants
According to data from Homeland Security, the Obama administration has deported more people than any other president in history. While former President George W. Bush had removed just over two million people, President Obama has deported 2.5 million since his administration began in 2009 — more than the sum of all the presidents of the 20th century.
Legalization of same-sex marriage
The world has changed in many ways since Obama took office — one of them being the Supreme Court’s landmark 5-4 decision that gave same-sex couples the constitutional right to marry.
“Love won,” Obama said. “No matter who you are, here in America, you’re free to marry the person you love because the freedom to marry is now the law in all 50 states.”
Increased presence in the Middle East
At the beginning of his term, Obama promised to end the war in Iraq, and has since ended many combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. The number of U.S. troops has also been drastically reduced from both countries since the beginning of his term.
The Obama administration has launched hundreds of drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, in an anti-terrorism effort that has been criticized for harming civilians.
Paris Climate Agreement
As the threat of climate change becomes clearer, leaders from around the globe gathered in Paris in December 2015 for a global climate summit. The agreement will attempt to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and keep the increase in global average temperature to below 2 degrees Celsius. Obama has pushed for more awareness of climate change and has been vocal about the threat it poses.
Obama attempted to normalize relations with Cuba, and met with Cuban President Raul Castro in order to peacefully restore diplomatic ties with the nation. Several of the prohibitions on trade and travel that have existed between the two countries were relaxed by Obama.
“You don’t have to be imprisoned by the past,” Obama said. “If something isn’t working, we can and will change.”