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

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ogletree09Charles J. Ogletree, Professor, Harvard Law School

What has been the Obama administration’s biggest achievement thus far?

The [biggest has been] the ability to persuade members of the House of Representatives and the Senate to pass comprehensive healthcare reform, a success that has not been achieved in decades by any other president or government. It will allow millions of citizens to receive health insurance for the first time and a significant number of those will be African Americans.

What was the administration’s biggest loss?

The administration’s biggest loss was the momentum to build on the stimulus package and to ensure that African American communities receive fundamental funds rather than having those funds held up by governors, mayors, or other local officials at the state level. With $800 billion available to stimulate the economy, we would expect more money being distributed, received, and ultimately transforming jobless African Americans into a working and wage earning citizens.

What is your assessment of Obama’s performance in this past year?

Remarkably, President Obama has accomplished more in the course of 12 months than many presidents have accomplished in two terms. He has had to manage two wars, in Iraq and Afghanistan, develop and get Congress to approve healthcare reform, bail out the financial industry to prevent our country from entering the greatest economic failure since the Depression, and provide $800 billion in the stimulus package to ensure jobs and income for many parts of our community. The fact that the president has also nominated Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court as the first Latina ever on the court and appointed Elena Kagan as the first woman as solicitor general, Eric Holder the first African American attorney general, and Hillary Rodham Clinton as the secretary of state, reinforces the remarkable team he has put together to run America during his first term.

What challenges do you think he might face in the future and what initiatives/legislation should he introduce?

The main challenges will be the economy. Despite the fact that the world is suffering economic losses, it is incumbent on the president to be creative and forward looking in reviving the economy. I think that means a second stimulus package and more focus on jobs, education, and health.

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

Jobs: B+

Healthcare: A+

Economy: B

Wall Street: B+

Small business development: A

Housing: B

National security: A

Overall: A-

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