As President Obama prepares to leave office, it’s quite remarkable to compare his policy successes across a number of measures with the state of the Democratic Party, particularly following the disastrous 2016 election.
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When President Obama took office, the economy was in free fall — as many as 700,000 jobs a month were being lost. Unemployment continued to rise for a time — the jobless rate peaked at just above 10% — but then quickly came down and is now 4.6%, the lowest in more than a decade. The stock market well more than doubled. And the overall economy today is about 15% larger than it was when Obama arrived, even after adjusting for inflation.
On the foreign policy front, America had 174,000 troops in Afghanistan and Iraq in early 2009; today that figure is down to 15,000. Obamacare has reduced the number of Americans without health insurance by 20 million, to the smallest percentage in history. And even median wages of a typical American family are modestly higher today than when the President took office eight years ago. Of course, that average obscures the fact that many Americans — particularly working class whites — are doing far less well and turned to Trump.
But even recognizing the fact that many Americans have been left behind, the ground lost by the Democratic Party over the past eight years is truly stunning. President Obama arrived with large margins in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. (Counting independents who caucus with the Democrats, he even had a filibuster-proof 60 votes in the Senate for a time.)
However, as he leaves, the Republicans have their largest majorities in the House since the 1920s, they control the Senate with 52 seats and have colleagues in charge of 34 state capitals. Equally significantly, they have lost more than 900 seats in state legislatures and have ceded control of 30 state legislative chambers.