Obama's broken promises: Will he deliver if he wins?

The president never fully met expectations set by his groundbreaking 2008 victory -- a disappointment Romney constantly reminds voters of.

By The Fiscal Times Nov 2, 2012 2:20PM

By Josh Boak, The Fiscal Times


President Barack Obama never fully delivered on the expectations set by his groundbreaking 2008 victory. It's a disappointment that Republican rival Mitt Romney constantly reminds voters about at campaign rallies this year.


Less than a week before the Nov. 6 election, the president was defending his record in Wisconsin.


"We knew from the beginning that our work would take more than one year, or even one term -- because let's face it, the middle class was getting hammered long before the financial crisis hit," he said Thursday.


Many of Obama's promises fell by the wayside as the new administration grappled with an economy in freefall and congressional Republicans. His signature pieces of legislation—the $831 billion stimulus package, ObamaCare, and the Dodd-Frank financial sector reforms—all occurred before Democrats lost the House of Representatives in 2010.


Out of 508 promises made by Obama, 41 percent of them have been broken, stalled, or compromised, according to PolitiFact.com. Another 21 percent are still "in the works." The broken promises include founding an infrastructure bank, closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay, raising the minimum wage, and—yes, Newt Gingrich fans—a manned trip to the Moon by 2020.


In other cases, his policies never performed as advertised. Obama launched programs to modify and refinance as many as 9 million mortgages, but less than 3 million homeowners have benefitted thus far. Republicans have criticized the administration for not halving the deficit as promised, while emphasizing that the stimulus did not—as first projected by the administration—hold unemployment below 8 percent.


But there are three critical broken promises that are easily overlooked—ones that impact a Democratic base he's counting on next Tuesday: immigration reform, cap-and-trade, and ending the George W. Bush-era tax breaks on families earning more than $250,000 a year.


As part of his 2008 platform, Obama endorsed a plan to allow "undocumented immigrants who are in good standing to pay a fine, learn English, and go to the back of the line for the opportunity to become citizens."


Immigration reform was to be a first year initiative, he told Univision anchor Jorge Ramos on May 28, 2008. "I cannot guarantee that it is going to be in the first 100 days," a then-candidate Obama said. "But what I can guarantee is that we will have in the first year an immigration bill that I strongly support and that I'm promoting. And I want to move that forward as quickly as possible."


At a Univision event this September, Ramos pushed Obama on the broken promise. "When we talked about immigration reform in the first year, that's before the economy was on the verge of collapse — Lehman Brothers had collapsed, the stock market was collapsing," the president said. "And so my first priority was making sure that we prevented us from going into a Great Depression."


Obama claimed at the forum that he was "naïve" to believe Senate Republicans would support the DREAM Act, which allowed residency for the children of illegal immigrants who served in the military or attended college. The DREAM Act needed 60 votes for debate to be ended and the bill put up for passage, but it only mustered 55 votes at the end of 2010. Five of the nays were cast by Democrats.


On June 15, 2012, Obama announced an executive order that would stop the deportation of younger illegal immigrants. "This is not a path to citizenship," Obama said at a Rose Garden news conference. "This is a temporary stopgap measure."


And after passing a grand bargain to reduce the deficit, Obama promised the Des Moines Register last month that the "second thing I'm confident we'll get done next year is immigration reform."


Mother Nature doesn't care about the political debate over climate change. It's pounded the country with violent storms like Hurricane Sandy, a "Snowmageddon," and blistering summer heat —imposing billions upon billions of dollars of expenses on the country. Illinois Sen. Barack Obama pledged to enact a cap-and-trade program in an October, 2007 speech while campaigning in New Hampshire.


"As President, I will set a hard cap on all carbon emissions at a level that scientists say is necessary to curb global warming — an 80% reduction by 2050," he said. "To ensure this isn't just talk, I will also commit to interim targets toward this goal in 2020, 2030, and 2040. These reductions will start immediately."


But by July, 2010, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., acknowledged that the votes did not exist to pass cap-and-trade. The bill was dealt a death blow by the Republican takeover of the House of Representatives later that year in the mid-term elections. On the day after the mid-term elections, Obama held a White House press conference where he said "it's doubtful that you could get the votes to pass [cap-and-trade] through the House this year or next year or the year after.


"Cap and trade was just one way of skinning the cat; it was not the only way," Obama said. "It was a means, not an end. And I'm going to be looking for other means to address this problem.


"The less ambitious successes Obama does have on limiting the nation's carbon footprint earned him the endorsement of New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg on Thursday. Obama secured that blessing, in part, because Romney rejected taking steps to address climate change that he once championed as Massachusetts' governor.


"I want our president," Bloomberg wrote in the endorsement, "to place scientific evidence and risk management above electoral politics."


Perhaps the defining message from Obama's campaign this year is his claim that the budget deficit can be narrowed with a "balanced" approach that includes higher taxes on wealthier Americans.


He made a similar promise back in 2008 to let the tax breaks first enacted under Bush expire for families making more than $250,000 and individuals earning more than $200,000. But forced into a political deal at the end of 2010 to continue unemployment benefits for millions of struggling Americans, Obama decided to cave and extend all of the tax cuts for another two years.


"There are some who would have preferred a protracted political fight, even if it had meant higher taxes for all Americans, even if it had meant an end to unemployment insurance for those who are desperately looking for work," Obama said at a Dec. 7, 2010 news conference. "I'm sympathetic to that. I'm as opposed to the high-end tax cuts today as I've been for years. In the long run, we simply can't afford them. And when they expire in two years, I will fight to end them, just as I suspect the Republican Party may fight to end the middle-class tax cuts that I've championed and that they've opposed."


That broken promise has empowered some Republican lawmakers to think that Obama would again retreat on the cuts—scheduled to sunset at the start of 2013—and extend them once again. The Republicans have essentially run on ensuring that no tax increases occur, a message that has stuck with voters despite Romney's convoluted and hidden budget math.


"I want to keep our taxes down," Romney said at a GOP primary debate last year. "I don't want to raise any taxes anywhere. Let me tell you, I'm not looking to raise taxes. What I'm looking to do is to cut spending."


Josh Boak is a National Correspondent at The Fiscal Times. Subscribe to The Fiscal Times' free newsletter.


More from The Fiscal Times


Nov 4, 2012 8:40PM
The U.S. Has Gained A Lot Of Low-Wage Jobs During The Recovery
Welcome to the U.S. of Low-Wage America. Most of the jobs lost during the recession paid middle wages, while most of those , according to a recent study from the National Employment Law Project.
Nov 4, 2012 12:27PM
Obama inherited an utter disaster, the worst financial crisis in 80 years(1929,2008), the worst since the Great Depression, with twice as many jobs lost as any of other 10 ten recessions since the Great Depression. Obama inherited the Great Recession, along with two unfunded wars and the unfunded tax cuts of 2001 & 2003, and other unfunded spending, all of which had been adding to the budget deficits and national debt long before Obama took office. Just pointing out the highly difficult situation President Obama was handed when he took office is not blaming the previous administration.

The Great Recession has caused the loss of two trillions dollars in federal revenue(2008-2012). In addition at least two trillion dollars has been spent as a result of the need to counteract the effects of the Great Recession and it's aftermath. Such as the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act of 02/2009(the stimulus), unemployment insurance extensions, extension of the Bush tax cuts, payroll tax cuts & their extension, increased use of food stamps(SNAP) & other welfare programs and so on. The above accounts for more than four trillion dollars of the national debt added since President Obama took office.
Nov 5, 2012 6:13PM




THE GREAT RECESSION 2008-2009 had twice the number of jobs lost of any other recession since the Great Depression!


In 2008 and 2009, the U.S. labor market lost 8.4 million jobs, or 6.1% of all payroll employment. This was the most dramatic employment contraction (by far) of any recession since the Great Depression. By comparison, in the deep recession that began in 1981, job loss was 3.1%, or only about half as severe.


It is fairly easy to check for the facts online before you post a comment.

Nov 3, 2012 11:31AM
I voted early - Friday - There were two polling stations, the line for both was long. If this is any indication of voter turn out, this is going to be a major major election. 
Nov 5, 2012 5:40AM

To Tmsckc, I beg your permission to reprint what you said in a response. This needs to be at the top. It is 100% right on. I was in Washington, working on mortgage banking legislation at the time. Americans don't know that what you have stated is absolutely correct. So with your blessings I hope you don't mind a reprint of your comment.


 "What most Democrats don't realize is that the roots of the financial crisis stem back to the Clinton administration and his Democratic/Liberal policies. Most of them don't do the research and just listen to the liberal biased media that it was Bushes fault. Subprime mortgages were the main cause of the financial crisis. In 1995 the Clinton administration changed the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) which mandated that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac had to guarantee subprime loans. Before this change to CRA the subprime loan market was very small if it even existed. This extra demand for realestate caused a bubble in the value of realestate. The Bush administration asked congress 17 times during his eight years in office to pass a bill to regulate Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Every time congress tried to pass this legislation Democrates led by Barney Frank and Chris Dodd stopped the efforts in their tracks. Another action that helped fuel the subprime mortgage crisis was the repeal of Glass-Segal which was also done during the Clinton Administration. Most of the economic problems we are facing today is because of Democratic/Liberal principals."

Nov 5, 2012 1:45AM
The national debt was $10.626 trillion on President Bush's last day in office, which coincided with President Obama's first day. It is now over 16 Trillion. Bush's 8 years in office was pretty bad with $4.9 Trillion added, but Obama has more than doubled that on an annualized basis. Lets see 10.6 minus 4.9 equals 5.7 It took our country over 200 years to reach 5.7 Trillion in debt and Obama has added about 5.7 Trillion in 4 years. His added as much debt in 4 years what it took all the other Presidents since Washington over 200 years to accomplish. Perhaps he should write a book on "How to Ruin a Country".  Capital Goods Shipments have gone negative again this year as they did in 2008. So, Did this administration add about $5.7 Trillion in debt for naught?  I did not vote for Obama the first time and I did not vote for him the second time.  Will his new promises be broken like his former promises?  Does a tiger lose its stripes?  Romney is a Governor and businessman that knows how to run companies and restructure debt.  Obama is a former lawyer and community organizer that did not reach his goals or keep his promises for the first 4 years as president.  Common Sense Question:  Which resume reflects the more qualified candidate? There have been about 50 million abortions, or babies murdered since 1973. Planned Parenthood convinces the young parents the baby will be an undue hardship upon them and they act as a conduit to the multi billion dollar abortion (murder) industry. As an aside, there were not 50 million rapes that resulted in babies. Romney/Ryan are in favour of a pro life agenda and will eliminate Planned Parenthood. Biden was making fund of Romney because he does not like the baby murder industry aka Planned Parenthood which feeds business to the multi billion dollar abortion industry.  There are several evil industries in  America.  Keeping prisons stocked with inmates is important to the prison industry.  There are public companies that build and manage prisons.   Companies that provide food to the prisons, security to prisons, medical care to inmates, etc. etc.     
Nov 2, 2012 5:26PM

Obama adds 23 Million illegals to the workforce at a time when unemployment amongst blacks and hispanics is at record levels.

This is fiscal wisdom?????????????

Nov 4, 2012 8:11PM

The only way out of the recession are massive cuts in govt spending.  the second half will start in 2014-15 due to govt cuts to defense. 

the job market has been the same, the housing market the same, Gas will soon go up, the national debt has not stopped increasing, So everything is the same.  No Change. 


And the lies are the same.  the republicans are going to ban abortion.  Not unless the supreme kangaroo court changes its mind.  The democrats are going to tax the rich.  well if you taxed the rich $250G a year it would take 285 years to pay off the national debt.  So keep believing that.  the US is broke, and nobody seems to notice.  If the credit of the US gets dropped further the national debt is going thru the roof with higher interest rates.  course printing more money does nothing but make the dollar more worthless than it is.  Wait till the currency to buy gas worldwide is change from the US dollar to the Chinese yuan.  china is buying massive amounts of gold on your walmart dollars.  then when the yuan increases in value gas will skyrocket.

the promises of the left are worthless as are the promises of the right.  at 60 million out of work we will hit the great depression.  and its coming. 

Obama has done squat for America.  Dont know if Romney can fix it either.  But in recent history we put one in office and when he does nothing we vote in another. 

I have heard all the blame game from the libs i care to listen to.  Blaming bush does not make it ok that Obama has done nothing.  Yeah kept the car industry from going under.  Its going to go under anyway, same as the steel industry. The unions are running it outa business.  The gravy train ran off the track and nobody seems to notice.  Course i am sure bernake and the federal reserve will fix everything.  Coming at a town near you.  Inflation.  Cant wait.

Nov 4, 2012 4:34PM
Wall street is dead set on taking away all gain for the year no matter what news event happens. They are in manipulation mode and no invester can change the outcome. This has happenned fo decades!!!
Nov 3, 2012 1:03AM

Tip: If Obama wins and the market would sell off, it would prove an excellent, perhaps even epic, buying opportunity. Even more so if the Dems take the Senate & House as well.

Expect the opposite with a Romney win. Good to go at first, then the long decline, probably beginning  2013 as reality sets in.

Nov 3, 2012 11:02AM

Looks like Bloomberg sucked up to Obama for Federal Infrastructure Stimulus Money to fix his drowned subway that won't be operational before 2013
Nov 5, 2012 5:33AM

Didn't Obama promise in 2008 that if he couldn't fix the economy in 4 years he wouldn't run again? Well, he has not only not fixed it he is running it into the ground with his lack of experience and his Socialist agenda. Business is picking up and businesses are borrowing in the last 2 months in anticipation of Obama losing. If Obama wins, get ready to receive your pink slip. He waived mandatory 30 day notices for layoffs for big companies in the last 60 days in order to keep employment numbers looking good. Tuesday Obama wins, Wednesday a lot of people will receive 24 hour notice with their pink slip.   


Newsweek a weekly liberal magazine who has adored Obama for 4 years has finally decided it is time for a definite change and just crucified him in this weeks edition. The New York Times has done the same today.

Nov 3, 2012 10:22PM
Over the past few weeks, I think Wall Street has voted for Romney........Time well tell.......
Nov 4, 2012 4:56PM
ChecktheFactsFirst,  Not remotely true. The 1982 recession set the record for the highest unemployment rate since the Depression ----like 10.8%. In addition, the prime interest rate exceeded 20% and the inflation rate hit about 14%. As you said---- check the facts. Reagan went into this recession and out of it in 3 years. If BO has trouble dealing with this recession, he'd have been absolutely lost then. No more excuses and no more cover for your hero. His quotes, "Whatever promises I didn't get done in the first term, I'll do in the second". "If you don't have a record to run on, give the voters something to run from". Nothing but excuses and unfufilled promises. I don't know who's more foolish. Him for making the same promises or folks like you who believe him. His legacy, re-elected or not, will be the worst president in US history and Jimmy Carter will get out of the cellar on this one.
Nov 3, 2012 10:26AM
A much, much, much shorter article could have been made if the author had listed any of O's KEPT PROMISES!!!
Nov 3, 2012 10:32AM
 Rush says Christie sucks and is a GOP TRAITOR. FIRST he grovels for  the hated FEMA money and THEN he gushes over Obama
 So who's your hero now Red Neck Tea Party! Rush or Christie. YOU have a choice to make! 
Nov 3, 2012 11:42AM

 Why everybody doesn't just use vote by mail like they do here in Washington is beyond me. I haven't had to traipse on down to a polling place for decades. I just put a stamp on an envelope and away it goes.And yet you are willing to wait in a long line instead? Why?
Nov 5, 2012 10:14AM
Will Romney privatize Social Security?
Will Romney repeal Obamacare?
Will he support Ryan's plan to change Medicare into a voucher system?
Will we stay in Afghanistan indefinitely?
Will he change the tax code so the wealthy get to keep more of their money?
How many new countries will he open up for Free Trade?
I'm so happy he thinks "corporations are people" and that the very wealthy should pay lower taxes than the working middle class.Yay for change!

Nov 5, 2012 6:01PM
We need to move as rapidly as possible to clean energy.  You've seen the results of Sandy and Katrina, not to mention the tropical cyclones that don't get much press here. 
There's nothing absurd about keeping arsenic out of the air and mercury out of our fish.  Lots of coal miners died of Black Lung, mine fires and collapses--not to mention the asthma and COPD others have experienced, caused by air pollution from gasoline and diesel engines.  Now we want to export more coal to China so that they can export more air pollution back to us from coal-fired plants.  Wake up, dolts. 

Talk to the people who live in Point Roberts, WA about the problems of coal export (from Vancouver, BC)--and, maybe you should go visit the coal country in PA, where I grew up.  There is NO such thing as clean coal.  It would probably take as much energy to clean up coal and sequester the CO2, as there is energy out.
Nov 4, 2012 2:58PM
A Republican dirty-trick robocall in Massachusetts falsely claims that Hurricane Sandy pushed back the election by a day. "I want to urge you to vote for Elizabeth Warren and Barack Obama on Wednesday, November 7,” it says.

The election is Tuesday, Nov 6th.
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