Hi, everybody. It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Not just for spreading holiday cheer – but also for list makers. You’ve got wish lists; Santa’s list; and of course, a blizzard of year-in-review lists. So I decided to get in on the action.
As a nation, we face big challenges. But in the spirit of 2015 retiree David Letterman, here – in no particular order – are my top 10 things that happened in 2015 that should make every American optimistic about 2016.
Number ten: The economy. Over the past 12 months, our businesses have created 2.5 million new jobs. In all, they’ve added 13.7 million new jobs over a 69-month streak of job growth. And the unemployment rate has fallen to 5 percent – the lowest it’s been in almost eight years.
Number nine: More Americans are getting health coverage. The rate of the uninsured in America dropped below 10 percent for the first time ever. In all, 17.6 million people and climbing have gained coverage as the Affordable Care Act has taken effect. And don’t forget, you can still sign up through January 31st at HealthCare.gov.
Number eight: America’s global leadership on climate change. Last week, in Paris, nearly 200 countries came together to set the course for a low-carbon future. And it was only possible because America led with clean energy here at home and strong diplomacy around the world.
Number seven: Progress in the Americas. We turned the page on an outdated, half-century old policy by re-establishing diplomatic relations with Cuba and reopening embassies in both our countries, allowing us to build greater ties between Americans and Cubans.
Number six: Preventing the spread of nuclear weapons. We succeeded in forging a strong deal to stop Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. In fact, Iran has already dismantled thousands of centrifuges that enrich uranium.
Number five: Standing strong against terrorism. Even as we continue to grieve over the attack in San Bernardino, we’re leading a global coalition and hitting ISIL harder than ever. In Syria and Iraq, ISIL is losing territory, and we’re not going to stop until we destroy this terrorist organization.
Number four: A 21st century trade deal that makes sure our businesses can sell goods “Made in America” across the Asia-Pacific. The Trans-Pacific Partnership is the strongest, most pro-worker, pro-environment trade agreement in our history. And it means that America – not China, not anyone else – will write the rules of the global economy for the century ahead.
Number three: A pair of Christmas miracles in Washington! This week, Congress passed a bipartisan budget that invests in middle-class priorities, keeps our military the strongest in the world, and takes the threat of shutdowns and manufactured crises off the table for 2016. Plus, I signed a bipartisan education bill into law to help our students graduate prepared for college and their future careers.
Number two: Love won. No matter who you are, here in America, you’re free to marry the person you love, because the freedom to marry is now the law in all fifty states.
And the number one reason I’m optimistic going into 2016: It's you—the American people. All of this progress is because of you—because of workers rolling up their sleeves and getting the job done, and entrepreneurs starting new businesses. Because of teachers and health workers and parents—all of us taking care of each other. Because of our incredible men and women in uniform, serving to protect us all. Because, when we’re united as Americans, there’s nothing that we cannot do.
That’s why it’s has been a good year. And it’s why I’m confident we’ll keep achieving big things in the New Year. So happy holidays, everybody.
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