THE PRESIDENT’S “LEFTOVERS”
By Rob Macon
As the election approaches, President Obama prepares to walk the Oval Office one final time. Many agree Obama has done an outstanding job concerning the nation’s economy. Then there are what we can identify as “leftovers.” Leftovers are conditions prevailing during the Obama Administration, as well as past presidents, that the administration was unable to finish, leaving the next administration to solve such problems as poverty, TPP, money in politics, and racism, to name a few. Below is a list one might consider to be “leftovers”:
Closing Guantanamo Bay. This has been a difficult uphill battle. Even for the nation’s first African-American President, an executive order signed January 22, 2009 couldn’t force it shut. Seven years ago Obama pledged to close the detention center upon taking office. His battle with Congress, lacking a plan on how to close it or find a location to transfer the detainees, may not enhance his legacy, which he thinks a lot about. Most Americans oppose transfering dangerous detainees to the US. Republicans, as well as some Democrats oppose Obama’s plan. Most likely either Trump or Hillary should begin adding the Guantanamo Bay “leftover” in their campaign speeches.
The invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. The Iraq war began March 20, 2003, a US-led coalition that toppled the government of Saddam Hussein. The conflict lasted much of the next decade. The Bush Administration’s leftover for the Obama Administration had based its rationale for war principally on the lie that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). In 2011, the US officially withdrew from the country. By 2014, a new coalition was formed and the US became re-involved, now fighting the Islamic State in Iraq 7 Syria (ISIS). The 9/11 attacks had been carried out on the orders of Osama bin Laden, the founder and leader of al-Qaeda. The Taliban regime in Afghanistan had given sanctuary to Bin Laden, then refused to turn him over, which started the US invasion in Afghanistan. Obama announced that the US will maintain approximately 8,400 troops in Afghanistan through the end of his Administration even though Bin Laden was killed. Passing on the leftovers to the next President.
The spike in homelessness. Who has the answers? When Obama leaves the White House, there will be 500,000 homeless people, a quarter of them children living in the land of the free. Why? Studies reveal scarce affordable housing, a sluggish economic recovery, cutback of social welfare programs and stagnant wages among the lowest-income earners. You may perhaps find someone you know living in the streets, sleeping in cars, homeless shelters or near a riverbed. Local government officials continue to pledge billions of dollars to battle the crisis, but are finding problems of their own.
Global warming. As floods, fires and droughts continue to take lives, the Obama Administration settled for the toothless Paris Accords that will do nothing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by the amounts required, while the Republicans continue to deny the very existence of global warming and climate change caused by human or corporate activities. Meanwhile the latest scientific reports show more rapid and drastic changes than thought possible just a few years ago, affecting rising sea levels, the oceanic food chain, and polar and glacial ice. Immediate action will be needed in the next administration.
One other accomplishment the Obama Administration will not be able to claim when he leaves the White House — raising taxes on the rich. Most middle-class and lower economic class Americans believe that the wealthy don’t pay enough federal taxes. Voters support President Obama’s proposal to raise investment taxes on the super-rich and spread the wealth around. But Obama had to agree to extend Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthiest.
This president and past presidents have been kicking leftover cans on down the road to the next elected president for years. So which ones if any will we be able to resolve in the next four to eight years?