Exactly what did Barack Obama do for the black race while he was POTUS? Obama’s presidency is slipping from present to past, from daily headlines to history books. The talk of legacy intensifies as Obama rounds the final corner of his improbable political career.
Other than political words, what will President Barack Hussein Obama leave in his stead? More to the point: What good did Obama do for blacks? The Barry Kool-Aid Crew still think Obama should be on Mt. Rushmore, but history will paint Obama as an artful politician just mouthing words such as “racial reconciliation.” Democrats want to blame Republicans for Obama’s failures and Republicans did all they could to help him fail. Now diehard Democrats simply want President-elect Trump to fail, like Republicans had wanted Obama to fail.
Now, to his credit, Barack passed health care reform after five presidents over a century failed to create universal health insurance. Obama signed the Affordable Care Act in 2010 that covers 32 million uninsured Americans, beginning and mandating experimental measures to cut growing health care costs.
The Obama administration also passed the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Stimulus and in 2009 used it to spur economic growth. After the stimulus went into effect, unemployment claims began to subside; 12 months later, the private sector began producing more jobs than it was losing and it has continued to do so for 24 straight months, creating a total of nearly 3.7 million new private-sector jobs.
Obama and his people and policies passed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act in 2010 to re-regulate the financial sector after its practices caused the Great Recession.
Obama also turned around the U.S. auto industry. In 2009, Obama officials injected $62 billion in federal money (on top of $13.4 billion in loans from the Bush administration) into ailing GM and Chrysler in return for equity stakes and agreements for massive restructuring. Since bottoming out in 2009, the auto industry has added more than 100,000 jobs. In 2011, the Big Three automakers all gained market share for the first time in two decades.
But with all of that said, if African-Americans can get past the symbolism of the Obama era, they may find themselves in a first-class economic opportunity. As The Donald becomes president, the nation is deeply divided by class, race, health and opportunity. In his acceptance speech, Trump pledged to be the president of all Americans. Blacks should pursue their chances to compete in rebuilding Trump’s America.
It’s probably true that Trump doesn’t have a bevy of friends uptown. Trump tapped Omarosa Manigault as his director of African-American outreach. Omarosa is an American reality game show and reality show personality. A graduate of a HBCU, Manigault was a contestant on the first season of Trump’s “The Apprentice.” Trump and Omarosa need to talk to blacks through more than tweets and social media to know more about their attitudes and outlooks. The Trump administration should make moves to open offices “uptown.”
People should follow up on Trump’s pledge to rebuild the inner cities. This includes affordable housing, efficient transport services for low-income communities, cleanup of urban toxic dumps and insurance of safe water. Note Trump’s 21st-century economy vow: “We are going to fix our inner cities and rebuild our highways, bridges, tunnels, airports, schools, hospitals. We’re going to rebuild our infrastructure second to none and will put millions of our people to work.”
Rebuilding America’s inner cities and creating a 21st century infrastructure could be Trump’s greatest legacy. This is a valid, indeed uplifting perspective. America desperately needs rebuilding. Its infrastructure is decrepit, its energy system is out of date for a climate-endangered economy, its Rust Belt cities are boarded up, its inner cities are unhealthy for the children being raised in them.
A builder-president could indeed restore vitality to the economy and put millions to work in the process. Trump pledged to put $1 trillion toward inner cities and infrastructure programs. America’s infrastructure is the correct and bold goal for America’s competitiveness, future job creation and well-being.
William Reed is publisher of “Who’s Who in Black Corporate America” and available for projects via Busxchng@his.com.