Tuesday 8 November 2016 6:00 pm

Has Barack Obama been a good President?

and Kate Andrews
Kate Andrews is associate director at the Institute of Economic Affairs.

Ed Bowsher, senior analyst and joint output editor at Share Radio, says Yes.

Barack Obama has definitely been a good President. He took over when the US was in the middle of an economic crisis – banking reform and a sizeable fiscal stimulus helped create a decent recovery. If you doubt whether the stimulus made a difference, just look at the Eurozone, where there has been no fiscal stimulus and not enough banking reform. Further stimulus would have been welcome but that was impossible once the Republicans took control of Congress in 2011.

Obamacare is a huge achievement providing health insurance for 20m previously uninsured Americans. Yes, there have been teething problems – but bigger fines for people who refuse to buy insurance is all that’s needed to sort out these issues.

Granted, foreign policy has been difficult. Responding to the Arab Spring was always going to be a challenge, and the Syrian civil war is horrendous. But Obama’s cautious “don’t do stupid stuff” approach has to be right following the disastrous invasion of Iraq. History will judge Obama kindly.

Kate Andrews, news editor at the Institute of Economic Affairs, says No.

Barack Obama has only one signature piece of legislation to his name: the Affordable Care Act. It has proven to be unsustainable, unaffordable, and remains deeply unpopular with the electorate (case in point, last month’s figures revealed that Obamacare benchmark premiums are set to rise by a staggering average of 22 per cent in 2017).

His inability to succeed in the only area of policy he substantially affected tarnishes his legacy badly.

Obama had the potential to be a great leader. But rather than uniting the country, he refused to work across the aisle; rather than advancing education policies to help minorities, he took the side of the unions; rather than sticking to his own “red line” in foreign affairs, he took a back seat abroad, as Syria and Iraq descended further into chaos.

No doubt Obama is a man of integrity, but as far as his presidential record is concerned, there is little to boast about.

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.