Paul Krugman: I Defend Obama

Obama’s approval rating has hit an all-time low, so low that his party has told him not to campaign during the upcoming midterm elections. Michelle will be hitting the campaign trail for her husband. The first lady is basking in the glow of her widespread popularity, and the Democrats intend to capitalize on this popularity to win the midterms. The president will not be touring around the United States, remaining instead in Washington, far from the states where Americans will be voting. For many Americans, Barack Obama is the worst president in recent U.S. history — at least this was the result of a public opinion survey a few weeks ago.

Krugman, a Converted Obama Fan

For Paul Krugman, Obama is one of the best presidents the United States has ever seen. A winner of the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences, a liberal intellectual, anti-establishment critic and opponent of George W. Bush’s wars, he has been converted. He didn’t used to like Obama, but now, he cheers him on. In a long article appearing in Rolling Stone, Krugman relates how the Obama of 2008 did not win him over, but that he has evolved into the type of president whose politics have shaped American society.

His opinion is against the mainstream. It is difficult to find somebody in the United States who is enthusiastic about Obama, or even just happy about his policies. Paul Krugman, however, invites us to look beyond the status quo, and to look past the criticisms made by the right and the left, and to project ourselves into the future, when historians will take stock of Obama’s mandates. According to Krugman, despite everything, Obama has done more good than bad.

For Paul Krugman, the much-criticized health care reform was well and truly a revolution that was destined to be everlasting. Despite Republican attempts to block the reform, and despite the fact that the government website was marred by technical problems, which resulted in the public having difficulties signing up for insurance, the Affordable Care Act has been put into place and is a part of the U.S. social system that will benefit millions of Americans. According to Krugman, there is no turning back now that the act has been established.

Obama’s Significant Achievements

Even the act of Obama’s administration tightening control over Wall Street was more significant than may seem on first glance. Krugman admits that although it is true that no draconian or punitive laws were passed against the managers of the major investment banks responsible for the 2008 economic downturn, it is also true that the 2010 reform gives the government a certain degree of control over Wall Street. According to Krugman, this is no small feat.

What was crucial, however, was federal intervention to save the U.S. economy. While it is true that the U.S. economy has not returned to pre-2008 downturn levels, if it had not been for Obama’s measures to relaunch the economy, according to Krugman the U.S. would never have managed to get back on track. To prove his theory, the economist compares unemployment statistics between Europe and the United States. When Obama was elected, the unemployment rate was staggeringly high, reaching 10 percent in 2009, after which time it started to go down. Now, the U.S. unemployment rate is back to 2008 levels. While it is true that many people are now looking for work again, it is also true that times have changed. For the Old Continent, quite the opposite is happening. This is another achievement for Obama.

Obama has done more for the environment than any other president. Paul Krugman is sure of this. George W. Bush didn’t make any positive changes, and Bill Clinton did very little. The current White House occupant has instead bet on alternative energy, and while the options are limited, the results are still significant. U.S. progress in the use and diffusion of renewable energy is perhaps not very noticeable, but developing renewable sources is vital for the future.

An Opinion that Goes Against the Status Quo

Regarding national security, Paul Krugman is less convinced about Obama, and his opinion is more neutral. According to him, Obama has followed in the footsteps of his predecessors and is stuck in a rut. Like all the others — except maybe Bush, Jr. — he has had one priority, which resulted from the tragic events that occurred in Vietnam: Obama deploys as few ground troops as possible to fight American wars.

During his presidency, Obama made a few historical changes that have had a positive effect on American society. First and foremost, he legalized same-sex marriages and passed legislation giving greater rights to women. I don’t care what the polls say and what Americans expected from him, and what did not happen. I am interested — writes Paul Krugman — in Obama’s positive accomplishments. There are a lot.

Paul Krugman’s opinion goes against what many analysts are saying about Obama. We should, however, consider it carefully.

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