President Obama's Report Card: One Year Later
Black Enterprise magazine Fall 2019 issue

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vhutchingsVincent Hutchings, Professor of Political Science, University of Michigan

What is your assessment of the past year? How’s Obama doing?

In some respects, he has done about as well as we would have expected. He adhered to some of his campaign promises although not to all of them. He did pass — or will pass — healthcare legislation and his administration is responsible for blunting some of harder the edges of the economic downturn.

What are some of administrations wins and losses?

There are more than a few cons actually quite a few cons: The idea that there would be no backroom deals, no insider advantages provided to monied interest with respect to healthcare or anything else, that was not fulfilled because of the secret deal that was cut by administration regarding the pharmaceutical companies.

Another negative that needs to be kept in mind; the promise to close Guantanamo, the illegal prison out there, in a year. That is not going to happen. Many of the civil liberty violations of the Bush administration had places like Guantanamo and in Iraq and elsewhere continue on.

What’s ahead for the president? What does he need to be focusing on?

Obviously, the economy is going to be a big issue. But, I think there is something else that needs to be said too because a lot of African Americans devoted a lot of effort and a lot of enthusiasm to help get this campaign elected into office. Part of the expectation is that this administration would do something in return for those African Americans and that has not happened. I think the administration needs to be criticized on that front as well.

On a scale of A to F, how would you grade Obama on the following topics:

Jobs: D
I didn’t give him an F because it didn’t get worse. Its hard to give someone a passing grade when… black unemployment is at 16%.I’m not quite sure how we can give someone a passing grade under those circumstances.
Healthcare reform: C. He is going to pass something and they are going to call it healthcare reform, but is it going to bring down costs which are really the big issue for many people.

Economy: C
For the same reason we talked about jobs. The stimulus package kept things from getting worse, but things are pretty bad.

Wall Street: D
Wall Street is engaging in the same practices that they did before. Efforts to regulate them more vigorously seem to be dead on arrival. The administration is not at all committed to any fundamental reforms.

Small business development: Incomplete.
It’s too soon to know. At this stage things don’t look so good. But it may be that there is some greater business development down the road. It is not at all clear that black businesses are getting any additional assistance and may be less under Obama than they did under Bush.

Housing: C
The housing market is in the toilet, but that is not entirely the Obama administrations fault but things haven’t turned around under his watch either.

National security: D
The decision with respect to Afghanistan is a disaster. You can’t have a president who recently received a Nobel peace prize engaged in multiple wars over seas.

Overall: D
Black America is in a depression. And we have a black president. Isn’t that terrific? Well, it would be more terrific if he were doing something about it. And he doesn’t appear to be doing so. I don’t want to congratulate. I don’t want to celebrate and I don’t want to coronate a president black or otherwise who sits in office while African Americans are suffering at the level that we are throughout this country in terms of joblessness, in terms of health disparities, in terms of wealth disparities.

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