President Obama’s New Year’s Resolutions

As the president enters the sixth year of his tenure, here’s what he should focus on.

President Barack Obama at Marine Corps Base Hawaii on Dec. 25, 2013, in Kaneohe Bay
President Barack Obama at Marine Corps Base Hawaii on Dec. 25, 2013, in Kaneohe Bay Kent Nishimura-Pool/Getty Images

Although President Obama has made more than 200 judicial nominations since taking office, his work is far from finished. According to an analysis by the Brookings Institution, in terms of judicial posts, “Vacancies at year’s end [are] greater than at the start of the year and the start of the administration.” In addition, the president’s success rate for getting district court nominees approved is lower than his recent predecessors’, meaning that he will have to put the pedal to the metal in 2014 if he wants to leave a judicial legacy he can be proud of.

Focus on Black Unemployment 

Those of you who regularly read my work knew this would be on the list. Here’s the bottom line: The unemployment rate in the black community, which has remained in the double digits as rates have begun to stabilize in other communities, is not the fault of the first black president. But so far his leadership has been unable to put much of a dent in improving things, which is a problem.

As he enters the twilight of his presidency, the time has come for the president to take aggressive measures to ensure that when he leaves office, the unemployment rate of his own people does not remain nearly double that of everyone else, as it has been throughout much of his tenure.

Protect Health Care Reform

Yes, theoretically health care reform is a done deal. But try telling that to eager Republicans who feel emboldened by the Affordable Care Act’s disastrous website rollout, which has brightened their 2014 hopes. There remain many more tests and milestones for the law that will likely elicit great scrutiny from media and voters. For starters, many will be watching to see how smooth the coverage process is this January for Americans who just signed up.

The law dubbed “Obamacare” is now too far out of the gate to be dismantled in its entirety, but opponents have not given up on mounting challenges or making it difficult to implement, particularly its Medicaid expansion. Though most athletes get to breathe a sigh of relief at the end of a long race, particularly one they have won, when it comes to preserving the legacy of his signature piece of legislation, President Obama will probably not be able to feel relieved about the implementation of the ACA for quite some time.

Keli Goff is The Root’s special correspondent. Follow her on Twitter.