President Obama's promises: the Top 25
By Angie Drobnic Holan
Published on Tuesday, April 14th, 2009 at 6:56 p.m.
Shortly before President Barack Obama's inauguration, we examined our list of 500-plus campaign promises and selected 10 that we considered the most sweeping and significant. As we approach the 100-day mark of his presidency, we've decided to expand the list to 25 to account for a broader range of Obama's many promises.
So here's a look at our Top 25, organized by subject. You can also get a quick overview of them by clicking PolitiFact's Top Promises from our subject list. If you're keeping score for the Top 25:
Promise Kept - 2
Promise Broken - 1
Compromise - 1
In the Works - 9
No Action - 12
We've already noted that Obama has fulfilled No. 15: Create a foreclosure prevention fund for homeowners . He designated $75 billion for the plan, which provides incentives to both lenders and borrowers to help some homeowners to refinance loans. The plan excludes investors, speculators and people who fraudulently obtained loans, just as he said on the campaign trail. We've also looked at No. 422: Create new financial regulations , and found that the Obama administration has put forward a broad outline for regulating the financial industry. We rated that promise In the Works. For the Top 25, we're adding promise No. 395: Strengthen antitrust enforcement . We'll be watching to see how the Obama administration does this, and whether it addresses companies becoming "too big to fail."
Obama has spoken often about the need for health care and how he wants to put forward a plan in 2009. One of the building blocks of that plan is promise No. 52: Create a National Health Insurance Exchange . The exchange would allow all Americans to select a private health plan or enroll in a new public one. We're now adding promise No. 56: Require children to have health insurance coverage . Obama said during the campaign that he wouldn't institute an individual mandate for adults to have health coverage until his plan was fully implemented, but he said children should be required to have health insurance when the plan starts. To achieve the cost savings he needs to expand coverage, Obama said he wanted to Invest in electronic health information systems , which is No. 59 . We rate that promise In the Works, because the economic stimulus bill sends $2 billion to electronic health records.
The Military and Veterans
During the Democratic primary campaign, the most discussed foreign policy issue was the war in Iraq. We've been tracking No. 126: Begin removing combat brigades from Iraq as a top promise since Obama took office. We have yet to see any brigades leave Iraq for good, but Obama has outlined specific plans for removing them, so we've rated the promise In the Works. We're now adding two more promises that touch on the military and veterans. Obama has talked a lot about the necessity of stabilizing Afghanistan and rooting out terrorists there, so we've added Promise No. 134: Send two additional brigades to Afghanistan . We rated it Promise Kept in February when Obama ordered more troops to the country. Obama also talks a lot about the need to help veterans once they return home, with health care and other supportive services. We're adding promise No. 109 , Fully fund the Veterans Administration .
Human Rights and Civil Rights
On his second full day in office, Obama directed his administration to review the issues surrounding the Guantanamo Bay Detention Center with the goal of closing it. So we've rated No. 177 : Close the Guantanamo Bay Detention Center as In the Works. We're also adding No. 175 : End the use of torture . We've rated this promise In the Works based on Obama's executive orders; we will be updating this promise again based on the actions of recently appointed CIA director Leon Panetta. We're also adding promise No. 180 : End warrantless wiretaps . We'll be updating this promise soon.
Nuclear weapons and materials
During the campaign, Obama said one of his top concerns was keeping nuclear weapons out of the hands of those who would seek to harm people. We're adding two nuclear items to our top promises: No. 382 : Secure nuclear weapons materials in four years and No. 195 : Seek verifiable reductions in nuclear stockpiles . Both promises are currently rated No Action, but Obama discussed them in a major address when he visited Prague this month and we'll be watching to see when takes action.
Energy and the Environment
Three Obama promises about energy and the environment made our original top 10 list, and they carry over to the Top 25. We gave a rating of In the Works to No. 439 , Create 5 million "green" jobs , because we found billions of dollars in the economic stimulus bill and in Obama's proposed budget for job creation in the renewable energy sector. We also gave an In the Works to No. 456 , Create cap and trade system with interim goals to reduce global warming . This is a regulatory plan to curb carbon emissions that contribute to global warming. Under the plan, polluters have to pay according to what they emit. Though cap and trade is sure to see a lively debate in Congress, Obama included it in his budget outline. Still awaiting action is No. 441 , Reduce oil consumption by 35 percent by 2030 . The time frame is long — more than 20 years — but Obama said he hopes his policies will cut U.S. oil consumption by more than a third. He's discussed the need for the country to do this many times since taking office, but the Obameter needs to see some more definitive changes in the nation's energy habits before we change our ruling from No Action.
Ethics and Transparency
One of Obama's themes during the campaign was bringing greater transparency and ethics to Washington. We've selected three promises for our expanded list that illustrate that theme . With promise No. 230 , Centralize ethics and lobbying information for voters , Obama said he would "create a centralized Internet database of lobbying reports, ethics records, and campaign finance filings in a searchable, sortable and downloadable format. We've also selected promise No. 235 , Require more disclosure and a waiting period for earmarks . Those two promises are currently rated No Action. We also think No. 240 , Tougher rules against revolving door for lobbyists and former officials , is a key promise. We rated that one Promise Broken after extensively reviewing Obama's nominees and policies in an update we published last month.
Two of Obama's most celebrated campaign promises involved taxes. With No. 32 , Create a tax credit of $500 for workers , Obama wanted a Making Work Pay tax credit would yield a maximum credit of $500 for most workers as a rebate on payroll taxes. Congress scaled back the credit to $400 in the economic stimulus legislation passed in Feburary 2009, which Obama signed. Obama put the lower number into his 2010 budget proposal. Because of the reduction, we rated this Compromise. With promise No. 38 : Repeal the Bush tax cuts for higher incomes , Obama wants to raise taxes on roughly the top 3 percent of taxpayers in order to help pay for his health care plan. His 2010 budget includes the rate increases on the two highest income tax brackets. We'll see whether Congress passes legislation to actually change the tax code. Right now, the Obameter says In the Works.
Obama said during the campaign that two things are needed for immigration reform. He said the government needs to secure the borders (promise No. 286 ) and provide a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants (promise No. 288 ). Both promises are now rated No Action, but we've read new reports that say Obama will address immigration reform this year.
Finally, Obama said he would reform mandatory minimum sentences (promise No. 300 ). The move would help the government "see where we can be smarter on crime and reduce the ineffective warehousing of nonviolent drug offenders." It's currently rated No Action.
See individual promises for sources.
Researchers: Angie Drobnic Holan
Names in this article: Barack Obama
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