Bracketed by the disastrous George W. Bush and the unstable Donald Trump, it’s clear that future historians will look kindly at Barack Obama’s presidency. On December 16, he held what was expected to be his final press conference. (He decided to have one more on 1/18/17.) Below is a section of the opening remarks from that 12/16 session. I’ve reformatted some of the transcript to enhance the clarity and impact of his accomplishments. Nothing was changed, added or deleted from his words.
Typically, I use this year end press conference to review how far we’ve come over the course of the year. Today, understandably, I’m going to talk a little bit about how far we’ve come over the past eight years.
- As I was preparing to take office, the unemployment rate was on its way to 10 percent. Today, it’s at 4.6 percent — the lowest in nearly a decade.
- We’ve seen the longest streak of job growth on record, and wages have grown faster over the past few years than at any time in the past 40.
- When I came into office, 44 million people were uninsured. Today, we’ve covered more than 20 million of them.
- For the first time in our history, more than 90 percent of Americans are insured. In fact, yesterday was the biggest day ever for HealthCare.gov. More than 670,000 Americans signed up to get covered, and more are signing up by the day.
- We’ve cut our dependence on foreign oil by more than half,
- doubled production of renewable energy,
- enacted the most sweeping reforms since FDR to protect consumers and prevent a crisis on Wall Street from punishing Main Street ever again.
None of these actions stifled growth, as critics predicted. Instead, the stock market has nearly tripled.
Since I signed Obamacare into law, our businesses have added more than 15 million new jobs. And the economy is undoubtedly more durable than it was in the days when we relied on oil from unstable nations and banks took risky bets with your money.
Add it all up, and last year, the poverty rate fell at the fastest rate in almost 50 years, while the median household income grew at the fastest rate on record.
In fact, income gains were actually larger for households at the bottom and the middle than for those at the top.
And we’ve done all this while cutting our deficits by nearly two-thirds and protecting vital investments that grow the middle class.
In foreign policy, when I came into office, we were in the midst of two wars. Now, nearly 180,000 troops are down to 15,000. Bin Laden, rather than being at large, has been taken off the battlefield, along with thousands of other terrorists.
Over the past eight years, no foreign terrorist organization has successfully executed an attack on our homeland that was directed from overseas.
- we’ve ensured that Iran cannot obtain a nuclear weapon — without going to war with Iran.
- We opened up a new chapter with the people of Cuba.
- And we brought nearly 200 nations together around a climate agreement that could very well save this planet for our kids.
And almost every country on Earth sees America as stronger and more respected today than they did eight years ago.
In other words, by so many measures, our country is stronger and more prosperous than it was when we started. That’s a situation that I’m proud to leave for my successor. And it’s thanks to the American people — to the hard work that you’ve put in, the sacrifices you’ve made for your families and your communities, the businesses that you started or invested in, the way you looked out for one another. And I could not be prouder to be your President.
And we, Mr. President, are proud we elected you twice to lead us. Your quiet grace and dignity in the face of unprecedented and unrelenting opposition, your deep and wide-ranging intelligence, coupled with your unbridled enthusiasm for America and Americans, have guided us through eight difficult years.
Thank you. Thank you so very much.
Thanks for caring about the truth.
Please pass this message on.