The Fact Checker
Every president announces a slew of initiatives in his State of the Union address, and President Obama last year was no exception. Here, in order of delivery, is a summary of the key proposals, pledges or priorities announced by Obama a year ago— and what happened to them. Overall, he did rather well in getting his ideas enacted by Congress, the clear benefit of having commanding majorities in both houses of Congress. With the prospect of divided government in the coming year, his batting average in 2011 is sure to fall.
Obama: “So tonight, I’m proposing that we take $30 billion of the money Wall Street banks have repaid and use it to help community banks give small businesses the credit they need to stay afloat.”
The Fact Checker: The proposal was contained in a small business law that won final passage by Congress in September.
Obama: “It is time to finally slash the tax breaks for companies that ship our jobs overseas, and give those tax breaks to companies that create jobs right here in theUnited States of America.”
The Fact Checker: This has long been an Obama applause line, but there has been little enthusiasm for this idea in Congress and it has gone nowhere.
Obama: “ The House has already passed financial reform. . . . And if the bill that ends up on my desk does not meet the test of real reform, I will send it back until we get it right.”
The Fact Checker: In July, Obama signed into law a sweeping banking and consumer protection bill.
Obama: “It means passing a comprehensive energy and climate bill with incentives that will finally make clean energy the profitable kind of energy in America.”
The Fact Checker: The energy bill failed in the Senate, and many Democrats in the House were punished at the polls for their votes in favor of it.
Obama: “So tonight, we set a new goal: We will double our exports over the next five years, an increase that will support 2 million jobs in America.”
The Fact Checker: In September, the Obama administration unveiled a strategy for reaching this goal. In the first 11 months of 2010, U.S. goods and services exports are up nearly 17 percent compared with the same period in 2009, according to the Commerce Department.
Obama: “Here’s what I ask Congress, though: Don’t walk away from [health-care] reform. Not now. Not when we are so close. Let us find a way to come together and finish the job for the American people.”
The Fact Checker: Despite the loss of a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, Democrats reached a compromise that resulted in final passage of Obama’s chief legislative initiative.
Obama: “Starting in 2011, we are prepared to freeze government spending for three years. Spending related to our national security, Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security will not be affected. But all other discretionary government programs will.”
The Fact Checker: Obama’s budget proposal fulfilled this pledge, but Congress never finished its work on the budget, so the outcome is uncertain. Spending has continued at 2010 levels, and Republicans want to cut further.
“But at a time of record deficits, we will not continue tax cuts for . . . those making over $250,000 a year. We just can’t afford it.”
The Fact Checker: Obama’s vow to end George W. Bush-era tax cuts on married couples with income over $250,000 in the name of fiscal responsibility was abandoned as part of a compromise with Republicans to extend the tax cuts for two more years.
Obama: “I’d like to begin monthly meetings with both Democratic and Republican leadership. I know you can’t wait.”
The Fact Checker: Scheduling such meetings is completely within the president’s power, but according to House and Senate GOP officials, there were only five such bipartisan, bicameral meetings last year— on Feb. 9, April 14, June 10, July 27 and Nov. 30. A White House spokesman did not respond to a query about why monthly meetings were not scheduled.
Obama: “We will have all of our combat troops out of Iraq by the end of this August.”
The Fact Checker: Mission accomplished.
Obama: “ To reduce our stockpiles and launchers, while ensuring our deterrent, theUnited States and Russia are completing negotiations on the farthest-reaching arms control treaty in nearly two decades.”
The Fact Checker: The negotiations were completed in April, and despite some determined GOP opposition, the Senate approved the treaty, 71 to 26, in December during Congress’s lame-duck session.
Obama: “ This year, I will work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are. It’s the right thing to do.”
The Fact Checker: The “don’t ask, don’t tell” lawwas repealed in