Panelists reflect on Obama’s second term, share opinions on presidency

A panel discussion about President Obama’s second term was held Tuesday at noon in the Eastern Michigan University Student Center.

The main focus of the event was to highlight separation of powers and political gridlock. Seven distinguished panelists shared their opinions on these topics during the discussion. Victor Okafor, department head of Africology and African American Studies, was the mediator.

The panel spent a lot of time discussing The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

English, literature and writing major Miranda Anderson voiced her feelings about the Affordable Care Act before the discussion started.

“My mother lost her health insurance after Obamacare was created,” Anderson said. “The act is a little more confusing than I thought it would be.”

Ravi Perry is an assistant professor of political science and a Stennis Scholar for Municipal Governance at Mississippi State University. Although he believes the Affordable Care Act is a better option than what was offered before, he does see a few
problems with it.

“It’s a great option, in my opinion, but it benefits the middle class and since the middle class is shrinking, the Affordable Care Act is benefitting fewer people,” Perry said.

He also stated that fewer people signed up for Obama Care than the White House initially estimated. It was projected that 60-80 percent of young people in the America would sign up, but that didn’t happen.

The panel also discussed the congressional gridlock Obama has faced.

While most of the speakers agreed that nothing will change if the Republican Party can’t reach a compromise in the next four to six months, Patrick Pieh’s opinion differed from his colleagues. Pieh is a part-time lecturer of Africology and African American studies at EMU.

“It’s not too late for them to reach an agreement,” Pieh said.
“People want to evaluate Obama without knowing what he’s tried to do. I encourage everyone to visit the White House’s website and look at the government issues Obama has tried to address.”

The panel was asked if they could foresee any short and long-term effects a raise on the minimum wage would have on the nation’s economy.

According to, many college students face challenges with attempting to cover tuition costs and college expenses on a minimum-wage salary. Obama suggested that a raise on the minimum wage for federal contractors would benefit the economy during his State of the Union Address last Tuesday.

“As the market changes, an increase won’t benefit people in the long-run,” Pieh said. “The price of goods and services will rise making the increase obsolete.”

Perry added that the raise needed to apply to more than just federal contractors, but reiterated that nothing would change until Congress reached an agreement with Obama.

To conclude the symposium, the panelists thanked the Department of Africology and African American Studies for inviting them. Pieh encouraged the audience to pay close attention to the statewide elections coming up, get registered to vote and visit the Affordable Care Act website.

“The public has to push legislature in order to see a legislative fix,” Betty Brown-Chappell, retired professor of social work at EMU, said.

Other panelists included Solange Simoes, associate professor of women and gender studies at EMU, Liza Cerroni-Long, professor of anthropology at EMU, and Sherry Johnson, assistant professor of English and African American studies at Grand Valley State University.

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