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Paul Krugman on President Obama: Among the "most successful presidents in American history"

One-time critic points to healthcare reform, corralling Wall Street and the environment as examples of the Obama administration's lasting contributions the United States.

By
Matt Bradwell
U.S. President Barack Obama (R) gives a girl a high-five while helping Los Angeles Lakers head coach Phil Jackson (L) and other team members and children volunteers fill care packages during a NBA Cares service event at the Boys and Girls Club in Washington D.C. UPI/Chip Somodevilla/Pool
U.S. President Barack Obama (R) gives a girl a high-five while helping Los Angeles Lakers head coach Phil Jackson (L) and other team members and children volunteers fill care packages during a NBA Cares service event at the Boys and Girls Club in Washington D.C. UPI/Chip Somodevilla/Pool | License Photo

WASHINGTON, Oct. 13 (UPI) -- Nobel-winning economist Paul Krugman has made a drastic reversal in opinion on U.S. President Barack Obama, calling him one of the most successful presidents in American history in a recent op-ed published by Rolling Stone.

Krugman admits that when Obama burst onto the national political scene in 2008 he was skeptical the then-senator could deliver on the promise to transform both the United States and its politics. The Princeton professor even points out, to some degree, his fears about Obama were not unfounded.

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"Obama was indeed naive: He faced scorched-earth Republican opposition from Day One, and it took him years to start dealing with that opposition realistically. Furthermore, he came perilously close to doing terrible things to the U.S. safety net in pursuit of a budget Grand Bargain; we were saved from significant cuts to Social Security and a rise in the Medicare age only by Republican greed, the GOP's unwillingness to make even token concessions."

But as an increasingly forward-thinking America looks to 2016 and the next round of potential changes to American life and law, Krugman says voters should not take for granted all President Obama has accomplished, especially compared to his predecessors.

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"Obama faces trash talk left, right and center -- literally -- and doesn't deserve it. Despite bitter opposition, despite having come close to self-inflicted disaster, Obama has emerged as one of the most consequential and, yes, successful presidents in American history. His health reform is imperfect but still a huge step forward -- and it's working better than anyone expected. Financial reform fell far short of what should have happened, but it's much more effective than you'd think. Economic management has been half-crippled by Republican obstruction, but has nonetheless been much better than in other advanced countries. And environmental policy is starting to look like it could be a major legacy."

Although Krugman highlights the unexpected success of Democrats in polling leading up to the 2014 midterm elections, he notes, "High office shouldn't be about putting points on the electoral scoreboard, it should be about changing the country for the better."

"Has Obama done that? Do his achievements look likely to endure? The answer to both questions is yes."

Krugman's piece is attacked to a list of facts and figures highlighting some of the Obama administrations successes and positive contributions to the country.

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Unemployment, October 2009: 10 percent Unemployment rate now: 5.9 percent Consecutive private sector job growth: 55 months Private sector jobs created: 10.3 million Federal deficit, 2009: 9.8 percent of GDP Deficit in 2014: 2.8 percent of GDP Average under Ronald Reagan: 4.2 percent of GDP Average tax rate for highest earners 2008: 28.1 percent Average tax rate for highest earners 2013: 33.6 percent

[...]

Dow Jones close, inauguration day 2009: 7,949 Dow Jones yesterday: 16,719 Required MPG (miles per gallon) for cars when Obama took office: 27.5 Required MPG for light trucks/SUVs when Obama took office: 23 MPG requirement by 2016 for cars, light trucks/SUVs: 35.5 MPG required by 2025: 54.5

[...]

Osama bin Ladens alive 2009: 1 Osama bin Ladens alive 2014: 0 Troops in Afghanistan, day, 2009: 34,400 Troops pledged in Afghanistan by end of 2014: 9,800 Guantánamo detainees inauguration day 2009: 242 Gitmo detainees today: 149 Crack vs. Powder cocaine-crime sentencing disparity when Obama took office: 100:1 Crack vs. Powder disparity today: 18:1

[...]

States with medical marijuana, 2009: 13 Jurisdictions with medical marijuana today: 23 states, plus Washington, D.C. States with legal recreational pot 2009: 0 States with legal recreational pot today: 2 Jurisdictions with marijuana legalization on the ballot in 2014: Alaska, Oregon, Washington D.C. States where gay marriage was legal inauguration day 2009: Massachusetts, Connecticut States where gay marriage is legal: 24, plus Washington, D.C. (soon to be 30 plus D.C., following Supreme Court refusal to intervene)

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