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Obama-Trump: Great contrast

11/17/2017, 8:46 p.m.
President Trump defines his administration as against all things Obama. Beneath his insults, outrages, lies and antics is a remarkably ...

Jesse L. Jackson Sr.

President Trump defines his administration as against all things Obama. Beneath his insults, outrages, lies and antics is a remarkably consistent attempt to undo his predecessor’s entire legacy.

With Republicans in total control of the White House and Congress, President Trump can dismantle much of what former President Obama accomplished, but he ultimately will fail to overturn President Obama’s legacy.

President Obama had the right moral compass; President Trump’s reaction will not be sustained.

Consider the contrast:

President Obama passed health care reform, enabling 20 million more people to afford health insurance. The centerpiece of his Affordable Care Act was the expansion of Medicaid to cover more than 10 million low-wage workers and their families.

President Trump and the Republicans still vow to repeal Obamacare. Their plan and their budgets seek harsh cuts in Medicaid and Medicare. President Trump continues to invent ways to undermine Obamacare administratively. He may do damage, but he will not succeed.

Americans have come to accept that affordable health care is a right, not a privilege. In Maine, voters overwhelmingly voted on Nov. 7 to extend Medicaid, despite the passionate opposition of the state’s Trump- like governor.

President Obama helped create the Paris climate agreement, getting virtually every country in the world to agree to the necessity of addressing global warming. His climate policies helped accelerate the transition to sustainable energy.

President Trump denies the reality of climate change, and he pulled the United States out of the Paris Accord and has systematically reversed President Obama’s policies.

The damage President Trump will do is incalculable, but he will fail. Even the Pentagon understands that climate change is a real and present danger.

President Obama inherited an economy that was losing 800,000 jobs a month, financial speculation had blown up the global economy. He saved the auto industry, bailed out and tightened regulation of the banks, passed the largest stimulus plan in our history, and — with the help of the Federal Reserve — saved the economy, cutting unemployment by more than half and setting a record for consecutive months of private sector growth.

President Trump is systematically deregulating the banks and corporations, and slashing vital public investment and services. He benefits from the momentum of the Obama economy, but as his plans take hold, we will witness a return to bobbles and busts as the financial casino heats up.

President Obama declared that inequality had reached unsustainable extremes. He let some of the Bush tax cuts for the rich expire and imposed higher taxes on the wealthy to help pay for health care. He called for raising the minimum wage and pushed to enforce worker protections and labor laws.

President Trump sides with the plutocrats. His tax plan would lower taxes on the rich, eliminate taxes on massive estates, allow investors to continue paying at lower tax rates than their secretaries and perversely expand incentives for multinationals to move jobs and report profits in tax havens abroad.

President Obama taught us that the war on terror, like all wars, must eventually come to an end. He sought to get the United States out of Iraq and Afghanistan. He resisted immense pressure to escalate troops in Syria and Ukraine. He signed a nuclear treaty that required Iran to dismantle its potential nuclear weapons program.

President Trump campaigned against the wars, but since becoming president, he has escalated across the board in Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq, while embracing Saudi Arabia’s massive war crimes in Yemen. He pledges to tear up the Iranian accord despite the urgings of his advisers.

President Obama sought to bring Americans together, across lines of race, religion and region. He built a rainbow coalition that won a majority of the popular vote twice. He celebrated the recognition of LGBTQ rights and defended voting rights.

President Trump consistently has sought to drive us apart, practicing a race-bait politics that appeals to our fears. He won office despite losing the popular vote. His Justice Department turns a blind eye to efforts to suppress the vote. President Obama’s administration was remarkably free of corruption. His family was a model that parents could point to across the country.

It is easy to lose faith. The damage that is being done at home and abroad is immense, but as the old gospel song teaches, “We’ve come too far, we can’t turn back now.”

The writer is founder and president of the national Rainbow PUSH Coalition.