While running for office in 2008, Barack Obama made many promises about fixing the economy. He's kept many, but certainly not all, of them. Here's the most important promises, and how well he's fulfilled them as President.
Fix Wall Street:
Candidate Obama said he would streamline regulatory agencies, especially those that oversee banks that used TARP funds, establish a financial market advisory group, improve transparency for financial disclosure, and crack down on trading activities that could manipulate markets. All but the last were done as part of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act.
On his first day in office, he signed an executive order prohibiting government aides from working on issues related to a former employer for two years, or prevent them from lobbying after they leave. He's made some progress on putting meetings between governmental agencies and lobbyists online for the public to review. (Source: Greenbay Press Gazette, "Obama strikes back on economic reform," September 23, 2008; National Journal, The Promise Audit )
The Economic Stimulus Package:
Here's a list of most of the promises, and how Obama fulfilled most of them, in the Obama Economic Stimulus Package:
- $25 billion for health, education, housing, and heating assistance. He spent $128 billion on health, $112 billion on education and $22 billion on housing and heating.
- $25 billion in public works projects. He spent $83 billion.
- Tax credits of $500 per person /$1,000 per family. They got $400/$800 through reduction of withholding.
- Eliminate income tax for seniors making less than $50,000 per year. Social Security recipients got a check for $250.
- He fulfilled promises to eliminate capital gains taxes for small business investors, and extend write-offs for small business equipment purchases.
Obama's Economic Platform:
Obama's 2008 platform centered around the following eight economic issues. His proposals for health care reform were not officially part of his economic platform, but are included here due to their impact on the economy. Here's the promises, and how he's performed.
1. Tax Relief:
- Expand the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit for low-income workers. The The Tax Relief and Job Creation Act increased the EITC through the 2012 tax years.
- Reduce self-employment tax. Done temporarily as part of 2010 tax cuts.
2. Technology, Innovation and Creating Jobs:
- Implement a cap-and-trade program to reduce carbon emissions by 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. Obama talked about it in his 2013 SOTU, but Congress won't pass it.
- Invest $150 billion over ten years to deploy clean technologies. The Department of Energy's strategy for FY 2014 is to double renewable energy production by 2020.
- Reduce oil consumption by 10 million barrels of oil by 2030 by doubling fuel economy standards within 18 years. The DOE's goal is to cut oil consumption by 2 million barrels per day by 2025.
- Make all new buildings carbon neutral, or produce zero emissions, by 2030. Improve new building efficiency by 50% and existing building efficiency by 25% in ten years. The DOE's goal is to cut oil imports in half by 2020 and double energy productivity by 2030./li>
- Eliminate special interest business deductions, such as for the oil and gas industry. Not fulfilled.
- Double federal funding for basic research. Obama included $80 billion in R&D tax cuts in 2010, and promises to return R&D spending to 1960s levels in his 2013 SOTU.
- Raise minimum wage and index it to inflation. Obama proposed raising the minimum wage to $9.00 an hour in his 2013 SOTU, but legislation has not been passed.
3. Address Predatory Credit Card Practices and Reform Bankruptcy Laws:
- Establish a credit card rating system to educate consumers on risk. Create a Credit Card Bill of Rights to protect consumers from unfair practices, such as interest charges on fees and unilateral changes. Obama fulfilled these two promises with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
- Reform bankruptcy laws for families facing a medical crisis. Obama didn't change the bankruptcy laws, but he provided assistance with medical costs through the PPACA.
- Cap payday loans at 35%. The CFPB is looking into this.
- Encourage banks to make micro loans. Ban executive bonuses for bankrupt companies. Require disclosure of all pension investments. Unfulfilled.
4. Protect Homeownership and 5. Crack Down on Mortgage Fraud:
- Provide 10% tax credit for the 10 million mortgage-holders who do not itemize. Unfulfilled.
- Create a fund to help homeowners in foreclosure to either refinance or sell their home. Fulfilled through Making Home Affordable.
6. Work / Family Balance:
- Double funding for after-school programs. Obama created the 21st Century After School Program, which extends the school day itself.
- Expand the Family Medical Leave Act. Obama expanded it for flight attendants, crewmembers and military families.
- Provide low-income families with a refundable tax credit to help with their child-care expenses. Fulfilled.
- Encourage flexible work schedules. Obama has verbally encouraged it.
7. Protect Labor and 8. Promote Free Trade:
- More strongly enforce and provide better labor protection for trade agreements. He hasn't fulfilled his promised to update NAFTA. However, he has included better labor protection in trade agreements he has signed with Colombia, South Korea and Panama.
- End tax breaks for companies that outsource jobs overseas. Obama continues to call on Congress to pass these tax breaks. For more on Obama's trade promises, read Obama and Trade.
(Source for promises: BarackObama.com, "Issues and the Economy")
Health Care Reform:
Obama promised to offer health care coverage similar to that used by Congress. Require that all children have health care coverage. Create a National Health Coverage exchange to monitor and provide information. Spend $10 billion to move health care provides to an all-electronic system. Congress wouldn't approve extension of the government plan. However, the promise basically kept by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. (Source: BarackObama.com, "Issues and Healthcare", For more updated info on Health Care Reform, ee Health Care Pros and Cons. Article updated June 17, 2013