Barack Obama will deliver his farewell address in Chicago on Tuesday night, capping his eight years as commander-in-chief with a reflection on his time as president and a look forward towards the coming presidency of his Republican successor.
Obama, who took office in the wake of a global financial crisis and amidst two unpopular wars, has pointed throughout his presidency to economic indicators showing the country's slow climb out of the recession. And his address Tuesday is sure to note the myriad ways in which America has changed during his tenure.
So, does the record show that America is better off now than it was eight years ago? A comparison of national statistics shows that there's plenty of positive news for the outgoing Democratic president, although there are some shortcomings in his record as well.
The good news: The nation’s unemployment rate declined more than three percentage points; the Dow Jones average has more than doubled; income is up (but only slightly); poverty is down (but barely); the number of Americans without health insurance was nearly cut in half; the federal budget deficit is down; and the numbers of U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan are a fraction of what they were in 2009.
The bad news: The nation’s debt nearly doubled during Obama’s presidency, and the number of Americans receiving food stamps increased.
And then there’s the state of Obama’s Democratic Party: When he took office, Democrats held 256 House seats, 58 Senate seats and 28 governorships. Now? It’s 194 House seats, 48 Senate seats, and 18 governorships (as of late last year).
The “then” figure is the best-available number for when Obama first took office in 2009. And the “now” is the most recent figure.