The Obama years


Photo Credit: Pete Souza/ White House Press Office

President Barack Obama made history when he became the first African-American president in 2009. In his two terms, he led the country through international conflicts and domestic unrest. He also instituted reforms in the federal government’s approach to climate change, foreign policy and civil rights.

1. Obama Inauguration: President Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th President of the United States Jan. 20, 2009. He received 69,498,516 votes and 365 electoral votes, according to the Federal Election Commission.

2. American Recovery and Reinvestment Act: In an effort to resolve the 2008 recession, President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which allocated $787 million in economic stimulus to save jobs and spur consumer spending. The law stipulated that the stimulus would be spent over a ten-year period, but a majority of the stimulus package was expended in the first three years of 2009-2011, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

3.Nobel Peace Prize: In his first year as president, Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for “efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples,” according to the Norwegian Nobel Committee announcement. The Committee acknowledged Obama’s goal to decrease the number of nuclear weapons.

4. Obama Care: In March 2010, President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act, which mandated health care for Americans who had previously been uninsured. The law expanded eligibility requirements for Medicaid. This allowed young adults to remain on their parent’s insurance until age 26 and required insurance providers to extend coverage for pre-existing conditions, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. The law also stipulates a tax penalty for not purchasing insurance. In 2012, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the law in a 5 to 4 ruling.

5. Death of Osama bin Laden: In May 2011, Osama Bin Laden, the leader of Al Qaeda and organizer of the Sept. 11 attacks, was killed in his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. President Obama was briefed on the intelligence reports indicating bin Laden was hiding in the compound beginning in Sept. 2010. After discussing plans with the National Security Council, President Obama gave the order to raid bin Laden’s compound.

6. Operation Fast and Furious: In September 2012, the Justice Department’s independent inspector general released a report detailing the mishandling of Operation Fast and Furious, an operation that sold at least 1,400 guns to Mexican drug cartels in an attempt to track buyers. The issued gained attention from Congress and the public when it was revealed that a Fast a Furious gun had been used to kill a U.S. Border Agent. A court ruling forced President Obama to release documents relating to the scandal to Congress, which led to Attorney General Eric Holder being held in contempt.

7. Re-election: In November 2012, President Obama defeated Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, winning 65,915,795 votes and 332 electoral votes, according to the Federal Election Commission.

8. Snowden Leaks: In May 2013, former NSA contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden leaked documents disclosing the unconstitutional use of U.S. mass surveillance to collect metadata from American’s communications. The leak sparked global debate about surveillance and the potential for civil liberties violations. In a press conference on Dec. 20, 2013, President Obama said the debate over mass surveillance was one Americans needed to have, but that the way this information was leaked was damaging to the United States.

9. Marriage Equality: On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of marriage equality in Obergefell v. Hodges. In his remarks on the decision, President Obama said, “the Supreme Court recognized that the Constitution guarantees marriage equality. In doing so, they’ve reaffirmed that all Americans are entitled to the equal protection of the law. That all people should be treated equally, regardless of who they are or who they love.” To celebrate the decision, President Obama had rainbow colors projected onto the White House.

10. Paris Climate Summit: In November 2015, President Obama joined 55 countries in the Paris Agreement, which detailed international goals to lower carbon emissions and adopt methods to limit emissions in the future. The Paris Agreement officially took effect Oct. 5, 2015. In a speech given the same day, President Obama spoke about his desire for the U.S. to be a leader in combating climate change.

Molly Sullivan can be reached at [email protected] or at @SullivanMollyM  on Twitter.