Keeping them Honest

Grading Obama's promises

In his 2010 State of the Union, the president pledged to boost jobs, take on the deficit, reform health care and more. We take inventory of Obamas promises and accomplishments.

The president speaks before signing a $17.6 billion jobs bill in March. The president speaks before signing a $17.6 billion jobs bill in March.

We're on track to add another one and a half million jobs... by the end of the year.

Close but no cigar. The U.S. economy added a total of 1.1 million jobs in 2010, according to the Labor Department.

I'm calling for a new jobs bill tonight.

Obama managed to get three jobs bills passed. In March, the HIRE Act went into effect, granting new tax benefits to companies that hired previously unemployed workers. Two other bills, including the Small Business Jobs Act, signed into law in September, and the $858 billion package extending the Bush tax cuts that passed in December, offered breaks to individuals and companies to spur jobs.

It's time to finally slash the tax breaks for companies that ship our jobs overseas and give those tax breaks to companies that create jobs in the United States of

The Obama administration proposed several changes that would have closed tax loopholes for U.S. companies operating abroad, but most failed to make it through Congress. However, one provision, tacked onto legislation designed to modernize the FAA, will make a dent in the problem by preventing companies from using foreign tax credits to lower their tax base.

Small Business
Obama signs the Small Business Jobs Act in September. Obama signs the Small Business Jobs Act in September.

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 Small Business Jobs Act, passed in September, created a $30 billion lending fund designed to help small businesses get access to capital.

I am also proposing a new small business tax credit - one that will go to over one million small businesses who hire new workers or raise wages.

In March, Congress passed a bill that offers tax breaks to companies for hiring certain previously unemployed workers. Businesses of any size can claim the credits, for an unlimited number of workers, but Obama pushed hard to sell the measure to small businesses.

Let's also eliminate all capital gains taxes on small business investment.

The Small Business Jobs Act eliminated this tax for businesses that qualify.

And provide a tax incentive for all businesses, large and small, to invest in new plants and equipment.

The same bill also extended a wonky tax break called "Section 179" that allows businesses to write off capital expenditures immediately, and implemented an accelerated asset depreciation schedule, both of which put cash in a company's pocket quickly.


[We should] give rebates to Americans who make their homes more energy efficient, which supports clean energy jobs.

President Obama announces new funding for clean technology jobs. President Obama announces new funding for clean technology jobs.

The bill that was commonly referred to as Cash for Caulkers called for rebates of as much as 50%, up to $3,000, for energy-saving efforts such as insulation improvements as well as the replacement of windows, doors, heating and cooling systems. The proposal passed the House but failed in the Senate last year. Rebates are still available for energy efficiency, but they are mostly state programs or money left over from the 2009 stimulus act.

To create more of these clean energy jobs, we need more production, more efficiency, more incentives. That means building a new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants in this country.

In his 2011 budget, Obama proposed nearly tripling the federal fund that backs loans to builders of nuclear power plants to $54.5 billion. But that idea was rejected by Congress. In February, Obama announced the fund would award an $8.3 billion loan guarantee for a new nuclear plant in Georgia, leaving the fund with just over $10 billion.

It means making tough decisions about opening new offshore areas for oil and gas development.

The administration was on track to open new areas for offshore drilling and had begun the process of doing so off the coasts of Florida, Virginia and Alaska. The BP disaster in April changed all that. All offshore drilling was halted temporarily and has only slowly begun to restart. Last month the administration backtracked on its plan to open new areas, saying that drilling won't be allowed off Virginia or Florida for at least seven years and that areas once under consideration in Alaska will remain closed pending a review.

It means continued investment in advanced biofuels and clean coal technologies.

The federal government funded clean coal technologies to the tune of $404 million in 2010, up slightly from $393 million the year prior.

Not much money was allocated for advanced biofuels in 2010. Instead, about $700 million was appropriated in 2009, most of it part of the stimulus effort, to be spent over several years.

And yes, 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 legislation that has been cornerstone of the administration's energy policy passed the House in 2009 but failed in the Senate last summer. The plan, known as cap and trade, involved charging companies to emit carbon dioxide and redirecting the revenues to fund clean energy and energy efficiency.

Obama details the National Export Initiative. Obama details the National Export Initiative.

We will double our exports over the next five years, an increase that will support two million jobs in America.

The nation is on track to do it. Exports from January through November (the most recent month for which data is available) are up 16.7%. And that rate of increase over five years would more than double the current trade level.

To help meet this goal, we're launching a National Export Initiative that will help farmers and small businesses increase their exports, and reform export controls consistent with national security.

The initiative officially launched in March and has, among other things, helped double the loans made to American exporters.

But realizing those benefits also means enforcing those agreements so our trading partners play by the rules. And that's why we will continue to shape a Doha trade agreement that opens global markets, and why we will strengthen our trade relations in Asia and with key partners like South Korea, Panama, and Colombia.

After 10 years, Doha talks among the world's largest trading powers continue to drag on. Meanwhile, trade deals with South Korea, Panama and Colombia are all in place but awaiting congressional approval.


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. ... And if I have to enforce this discipline by veto, I will.

The president proposed freezing federal worker pay in November. The president proposed freezing federal worker pay in November.

Obama's budget proposed a three-year spending freeze as he pledged. It never took effect because Congress still has not passed a 2011 budget; the government is instead operating through a temporary funding mechanism known as a "continuing resolution."

We will continue to go through the budget line by line to eliminate programs that we can't afford and don't work.

President Obama's 2011 budget proposal includes 126 cuts that would save $23 billion. But Congress has been unable to pass a budget for the current fiscal year, leaving those savings in limbo.

To help working families, we will extend our middle-class tax cuts. But at a time of record deficits, we will not continue tax cuts for oil companies, investment fund managers, and those making over $250,000 a year. We can't afford it.

This is a sore point with some of his supporters. In December, with the tax cuts set to expire soon, Obama struck a deal with Republicans. He got his middle-class tax cuts, but only for two years, not permanently as he had wanted. And he lost on his pledge to raise taxes on the rich - they also got their tax cuts extended for two years. And Congress never did follow through on Obama's call to end key breaks for oil companies and investment fund managers.

That's why I've called for a bipartisan fiscal commission.

In December, Obama's bipartisan commission made far-reaching recommendations to cut the debt. Some of its proposals have been introduced into legislation.

The Senate should restore the pay-as-you-go law that was a big reason for why we had record surpluses in the 1990s.

Congress passed a law requiring that lawmakers find ways to offset new tax cuts and spending increases by cutting spending or raising taxes elsewhere in the budget. But the law was not as strong as the one from the 1990s because it exempts many expensive polices like the extension of the Bush tax cuts for the majority of Americans.

The president speaks with students about making college more affordable. The president speaks with students about making college more affordable.

To make college more affordable, this bill will finally end the unwarranted taxpayer subsidies that go to banks for student loans.

A student loan bill passed in March did end the subsidies that banks got to make student loans, and called for the savings to be used to help students and families pay for college and reduce the deficit.

Instead, let's take that money and give families a $10,000 tax credit for four years of college and increase Pell

That same student loan legislation allocated an additional $36 billion to be directed to Pell grant scholarships for lower-income students.

As a part of the tax cut deal pushed through in December, the American Opportunity tax credit was extended through 2011. That's worth up to $2,500 for each year of college, or $10,000 for a four-year degree.

And let's tell another one million students that when they graduate, they will be required to pay only 10 percent of their income on student loans, and all of their debt will be forgiven after 20 years -- and forgiven after 10 years if they choose a career in public service, because in the United States of America, no one should go broke because they chose to go to college.

The student loan legislation does limit student loan payments to 10% of income, down from 15%, and it also forgives the debt after 20 years, or after 10 years for graduates in public service. These changes are expected to help more than 1.2 million borrowers.


This year, we will step up refinancing so that homeowners can move into more affordable mortgages.

Obama discusses the economy with families in Ohio. Obama discusses the economy with families in Ohio.

Under the administration's Home Affordable Refinance Program, 289,714 loans were refinanced during the first nine months of 2010, the most recent figures available. And the program helped refinance a total of 479,894 mortgages since it was launched in April, 2009. Still, that's a far cry from the 4million to 5 million homeowners Obama pledged he'd help when he rolled the program out.

Health Care
Barack Obama talks about health care reform in Maine. Barack Obama talks about health care reform in Maine.

Our approach would preserve the right of
Americans who have
insurance to keep their doctor and their plan.

The Affordable Care Act, the sweeping health care reform bill that became law on March 23, includes a specific provision that allows Americans to keep their existing health plans..

It would reduce costs and premiums for millions of
families and businesses.

With the new law in place less than a year, it remains an open question as to whether it will successfully control skyrocketing health care costs. It certainly hasn't done so in the short term.

And according to the Congressional Budget Office -- the independent organization that both parties have cited as the official scorekeeper for Congress -- our approach would bring down the deficit by as much as $1 trillion over the next two decades.

The CBO has estimated that the package of reforms could reduce the deficit by $143 billion over the first 10 years and by more than $1 trillion over the second decade.

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