Did Obama keep past State of the Union promises?


A breakdown of major proposals President Barack Obama has made in his State of the Union addresses, and what happened afterward.


MAJOR PROPOSALS: 1) The president, in his first
(Credit: Getty Images)

MAJOR PROPOSALS: 1) The president, in his first State of the Union address a little more than a year after taking office, appealed for support for his health care overhaul, which was then in severe danger in Congress. 2) Obama told Congress that creating jobs "must be our number-one focus in 2010, and that's why I'm calling for a new jobs bill tonight." He also proposed that Congress take $30 billion that Wall Street banks had repaid after their bailout to help community banks make loans to small businesses. 3) Obama urged the Senate to follow the House's lead and pass financial reform. 4) Obama urged Congress to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," the ban on gays and lesbians serving openly in the military.

QUOTE: "One year ago, I took office amid two wars, an economy rocked by a severe recession, a financial system on the verge of collapse, and a government deeply in debt. Experts from across the political spectrum warned that if we did not act, we might face a second depression. So we acted -- immediately and aggressively. And one year later, the worst of the storm has passed. But the devastation remains."

WHAT HAPPENED AFTERWARD: 1) Congress passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act on March 23, 2010. 2) In March, Obama signed a jobs bill containing about $18 billion in tax breaks and $20 billion in spending for highway and transit. In August, Obama signed a $26 billion bill to protect the jobs of hundreds of thousands of nonfederal government workers. In September, the president signed the Small Business Jobs Act, which cut their taxes and created a $30 billion fund to encourage lending to small businesses. 3) In July, Congress passed and Obama signed Dodd-Frank, which included the strictest restrictions on banks and Wall Street since the Great Depression and established the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. 4) After Congress passed the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," Obama signed it in December 2010; it took effect the following September.

OUTCOME: Action taken on 4 of 4 items.


MAJOR PROPOSALS: 1) End the Bush-era tax cuts
(Credit: Getty Images)

MAJOR PROPOSALS: 1) End the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans. 2) Obama said he wanted to eliminate oil subsidies, and set goals of 1 million electric vehicles on the roads by 2015 and 80 percent of the country's electricity from clean energy by 2035. 3) Obama said he would "finish the job of bringing our troops out of Iraq" in 2011 and begin bringing troops home from Afghanistan in July. 4) Obama advocated following the approach of the Race to the Top school program as No Child Left Behind is replaced with a more flexible education reform law.

QUOTE: "From the earliest days of our founding, America has been the story of ordinary people who dare to dream. That's how we win the future. We're a nation that says, 'I might not have a lot of money, but I have this great idea for a new company.' 'I might not come from a family of college graduates, but I will be the first to get my degree.' 'I might not know those people in trouble, but I think I can help them, and I need to try.' 'I'm not sure how we'll reach that better place beyond the horizon, but I know we'll get there. I know we will.' We do big things."

WHAT HAPPENED AFTERWARD: 1) After the fiscal cliff fight, a 2013 tax package raised taxes for just 1 percent of Americans. It extended most of the Bush-era tax cuts for individuals who make less than $400,000 a year and married couples who make less than $450,000. 2) A Democratic bill to end $4 billion in oil subsidies failed in the Senate in March 2012. The United States hasn't met the goal of 1 million electric vehicles on the road by this year; California has the most of any state, with at least 100,000. 3) All U.S. troops withdrew from Iraq by the end of 2011. Several years later, the U.S. launched airstrikes against the Islamic State group in 2014 and sent U.S. forces to Iraq to train and assist Iraqis in their fight against the militants. As of early 2015, there were more than 2,100 U.S. troops in Iraq. The withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan did begin in July 2011. The 13-year war in Afghanistan formally ended on Dec. 28, 2014, but nearly 11,000 U.S. forces remain in the country. 4) Both Race to the Top and No Child Left Behind remain in effect.

OUTCOME: Action taken on 2 of 4 items.


MAJOR PROPOSALS: 1) Obama called for a new
(Credit: Getty Images)

MAJOR PROPOSALS: 1) Obama called for a new minimum tax rate of at least 30 percent for Americans making over $1 million. 2) Reiterated his call for comprehensive immigration reform and said Congress should at least give "responsible young people" a chance to earn American citizenship. 3) Directed his administration to develop a plan for the safe extraction of natural gas from shale deposits, which the White House said would support more than 600,000 jobs.

QUOTE: "The defining issue of our time," Obama said, is how to keep the promise of the American dream alive. "No challenge is more urgent. No debate is more important. We can either settle for a country where a shrinking number of people do really well while a growing number of Americans barely get by, or we can restore an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, and everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules."

WHAT HAPPENED AFTERWARD: 1) The so-called Buffett rule has not passed Congress. 2) Congress did not pass comprehensive immigration reform, though the Senate did vote for a major overhaul in June 2013 that included a path to citizenship for immigrants who met certain criteria. In June 2012, Obama announced a deferred action program granting two-year deportation reprieves for immigrants younger than 30 who were brought illegally to the United States before age 16 and had lived in the country for at least five years. 3) The United States has seen a boom in natural gas production due to shale gas extraction, or fracking. That increased production has helped drive down oil prices.

OUTCOME: Action taken on 2 of 3 items.




MAJOR PROPOSALS: 1) Obama again focused on the
(Credit: AP / Charles Dharapak)

MAJOR PROPOSALS: 1) Obama again focused on the economy, saying he wanted to "reignite" the middle-class engine of economic growth without raising the deficit. One deal he offered to Republicans: cutting $1.5 trillion over a decade by reducing Medicare costs in exchange for revenue from closing tax loopholes for the wealthy. 2) In the wake of the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) and the mass shootings in Aurora, Colorado, and Newtown, Connecticut, Obama said Congress should vote on legislation to reduce gun violence. 3) The president proposed raising the minimum wage to $9 an hour by 2015 and tying it to the cost of living. 4) Obama said that preschool should be expanded to every child younger than 4.

QUOTE: "It is our generation's task, then, to reignite the true engine of America's economic growth -- a rising, thriving middle class. It is our unfinished task to restore the basic bargain that built this country -- the idea that if you work hard and meet your responsibilities, you can get ahead, no matter where you come from, no matter what you look like, or who you love."

WHAT HAPPENED AFTERWARD: 1) After many years of a stop-and-start recovery, the economy is again growing strongly. Meantime, the government's deficit of $483.3 billion in 2014 was the smallest since 2008, before Obama took office. Major deals on Medicare and taxes have remained out of reach. 2) Congress did not vote on gun control. A major bill that would have expanded background checks failed in the Senate in April 2013. However, Obama did issue 23 executive orders tied to gun violence in 2013. 3) The federal minimum wage remains $7.25 an hour. 4) Universal preschool proved to be a nonstarter in Congress.

OUTCOME: Action taken on 2 of 4 items.


MAJOR PROPOSALS: 1) Announced an executive order to
(Credit: AP / Charles Dharapak)

MAJOR PROPOSALS: 1) Announced an executive order to raise the minimum wage paid by federal contractors to $10.10 and called on Congress to increase the federal minimum wage to $10.10. 2) Obama renewed his call for Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform. 3) On the climate, Obama pledged to set new fuel efficiency standards for trucks and said he had directed his administration to set new carbon emissions standards for power plants. 4) For the Affordable Care Act, Obama encouraged Americans lacking insurance to sign up by a March 31 deadline, and urged the GOP to give up trying to repeal his health care law.

QUOTE: "Let's make this a year of action. That's what most Americans want -- for all of us in this chamber to focus on their lives, their hopes, their aspirations."

WHAT HAPPENED AFTERWARD: 1) Congress did not raise the minimum wage, but several states and big cities have moved to boost theirs. 2) With Congress not acting on immigration, Obama announced in November executive actions to spare as many as 4 million undocumented immigrants from deportation. Many Republicans decried the move. 3) Obama did order increased fuel standards for trucks, and in June he introduced a rule to reduce carbon dioxide emissions at fossil fuel-fired power plants by 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030. In November, Obama struck a historic climate change deal with China as the two countries pledged to limit greenhouse gases. 4) By the fall, about 6.9 million people were enrolled for private coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Republicans are still trying to repeal the law, and the new Congress is preparing more repeal votes.

OUTCOME: Action taken on 3 of 4 items.


MAJOR PROPOSALS: 1) Obama's address was more of
(Credit: AP / J. Scott Applewhite)

MAJOR PROPOSALS: 1) Obama's address was more of a narrative than a typical laundry list of new proposals. He focused on "middle-class economics," saying that the United States does best when everyone gets a fair shot and plays by the same rules, and that he wanted to help working families feel more secure in an ever-changing world. "That means helping folks afford child care, college, health care, a home, retirement. And my budget will address each of these issues, lowering the taxes of working families and putting thousands of dollars back into their pockets each year," Obama said. 2) Obama said the wealthy should be taxed to help the middle class. His tax plan would raise the capital gains rate for couples that make more than $500,000 per year to 28 percent. It would also require estates to pay capital gains taxes on securities when they are inherited, and put in place a fee on U.S. financial firms with assets of more than $50 billion. In all, his plan would generate $320 billion in new revenue over 10 years, the administration estimates. 3) Obama called for making community college free across America. That would cost the federal government $60 billion over a decade -- to be paid for by his tax plan -- and participating states $20 billion. 4) Months after a U.S.-led coalition began airstrikes against the Islamic State group, the president called on Congress "to show the world that we are united in this mission by passing a resolution to authorize the use of force against ISIL."

QUOTE: "America, for all that we have endured; for all the grit and hard work required to come back; for all the tasks that lie ahead, know this: The shadow of crisis has passed, and the State of the Union is strong."

WHAT HAPPENED AFTERWARD: 1) Many of the priorities Obama outlined in the 2015 State of the Union hit a wall in Congress, including a higher minimum wage and seven days of paid sick leave. Obama addressed the latter through an executive order, issued on Labor Day, that requires paid sick leave from federal contractors. That will affect contracts starting in 2017. The president took the same tack after Republicans rejected bills to reduce debt for student loan borrowers, taking executive action that limits their monthly student loan payments to 10 percent of their incomes. Obama's proposal for a tax cut worth up to $3,000 per child per year also didn't pass. Congress did go along with Obama on permanent tax breaks for low-income workers and families, and for families that have college students. 2) Congress did not approve Obama's capital gains changes, nor his fee on large financial firms. 3) Congress did not pass Obama's community college plan. 4) Congress all but ignored Obama's draft resolution to authorize force against the Islamic State, whose profile has grown in the past year with attacks such as those in Paris in November that left 130 dead. However, the new House speaker, Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.), has said he supports a resolution against the Islamic State.

OUTCOME: Action taken on 1 of 4 items.

-- With reporting from Tribune News Service

Get the Newsday Now newsletter!

The best of Newsday every day in your inbox.

Sign up

By clicking Sign up, you agree to our privacy policy.

Related Media

President Barack Obama holds a year-end news conference Photos: President Barack Obama at work and play Students cheer as they hold up signs stating Affordable Care Act timeline Bob Gorrell, Creators Cartoons: The Barack Obama presidency


Newsday.com now uses Facebook for our comment boards. Please read our guidelines and connect your Facebook account to comment.

By using this site, you agree to our Privacy policy.