President Obama said Thursday that he’s leaving the country in great shape for President-elect Donald Trump, and his few regrets include his inability to enact gun control and immigration reform.
In his “exit memo” to the nation, Mr. Obama said the U.S. has added more than 15 million jobs, lowered the poverty rate, provided health insurance for more than 20 million Americans and brought home nearly 180,000 troops from two wars over the past eight years.
“By so many measures, our country is stronger and more prosperous than it was when we started — a situation I’m proud to leave for my successor,” Mr. Obama said.
Mr. Trump’s campaign slogan was “Make America Great Again,” a rallying cry that miffed Mr. Obama.
The president, who will deliver a farewell speech to the nation on Tuesday in Chicago, said he wishes he could have done more, including the passage of universal background checks on gun purchases. Congress rejected the effort in 2013.
“For all that we’ve achieved, there’s still so much I wish we’d been able to do, from enacting gun safety measures to protect more of our kids and our cops from mass shootings like Newtown, to passing commonsense immigration reform that encourages the best and brightest from around the world to study, stay, and create jobs in America,” Mr. Obama said.
The president’s memo is accompanied by progress reports from each of his Cabinet agencies, detailing their individual achievements.
On the national security front, while the U.S. has suffered attacks by radicalized terrorists, the president said no foreign terrorist organization “has successfully planned and executed an attack on our homeland.”
“Terrorists like Osama bin Laden have been taken off the battlefield,” the president said. “With a coalition of more than 70 nations and a relentless campaign of more than 16,000 airstrikes so far, we are breaking the back of ISIL and taking away its safe havens, and we’ve accomplished this at a cost of $10 billion over two years — the same amount that we spent in one month at the height of the Iraq War.”