As he delivers his final State of the Union address, has Obama proved a failure as President?

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Obama will leave the stage after eight years in office (Source: Getty)

Kate Andrews, head of communications at the Adam Smith Institute, says Yes.

As a senator, Obama promised “hope” and “change” on the campaign trail in 2007. But as President, he has presided over some of the worst gridlock Washington has seen. His pledge to unite the parties was quickly voided when he pushed through the Affordable Care Act in a direct attempt to avoid any deal with Republican leaders. His healthcare “achievement” has actually raised healthcare premiums and forced many families off of their preferred insurance schemes and onto government plans; Obamacare premiums are forecast to rise by an average of 7.5 per cent this year alone. His own adviser described his foreign policy efforts as “leading from behind”. His “red line” blunder on Syria set off bombs that further destabilised the region, giving fuel to Islamic State. Further, both Iraq and Afghanistan – which were stabilising by 2009 – have collapsed under his leadership. For all his grandstanding, the President’s rhetoric has proved empty. Eight years later, Americans look to elect a new leader to solve the problems Obama failed to address, and to fix the problems he has created.

Lincoln Hill, a communications consultant, says No.

Barack Obama has been an imperfect, successful President. He inherited a severe recession, and acted swiftly to stimulate the economy. He resisted Republican efforts to cut public spending before the private sector could sustain growth. Obama now presides over unemployment at 5 per cent, down from 10 per cent at its peak, and an economy adding over 200,000 jobs per month. He also took his chance to reform healthcare, giving more than 30m Americans access to affordable treatment, and improved financial regulation. He has not, admittedly, always acted boldly, and not always managed Congress wisely. His foreign policy has often lacked direction and strategic purpose. But the American public demanded of him an end to foreign entanglements. He has used his authority, in the teeth of ferocious, reactionary opposition, inflamed by the colour of his skin, whether on immigration, gun control, same-sex marriage, or equal pay, to make the argument for a more diverse, more open, more tolerant United States.

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