After only two months in office, President Obama may have fallen short on a number of his campaign promises.
As a candidate, he promised to allow public comment before signing bills, eliminate capital gains taxes for small businesses, provide tax credits to businesses for hiring new employees, allow Americans to withdraw funds from 401(k) and retirement accounts without penalties, ban lobbyists from serving in his administration, reform earmarks, bring all combat troops home from Iraq in 16 months, sign the “Freedom of Choice Act,” give Americans $4,000 in credits for college and run a “transparent” administration.
However, after giving his word to the American people on so many issues, Obama has yet to fulfill many commitments.
WND has compiled the following extensive list of those abandoned promises:
Broken promise No. 1: ‘Sunlight Before Signing’
When Obama campaigned for the Democratic presidential nomination in Manchester, N.H., on June 22, 2007, he announced his “Sunlight Before Signing” promise.
“When there is a bill that ends up on my desk as the president, you the public will have five days to look online and find out what’s in it before I sign it,” he said.
He repeated that promise on his campaign website:
“Too often bills are rushed through Congress and to the president before the public has the opportunity to review them. As president, Obama will not sign any non-emergency bill without giving the American public an opportunity to review and comment on the White House website for five days.”
However, Obama signed his first bill, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act, on Jan. 20 – only two days after its passage.
He signed a second bill expanding the State Children’s Health Insurance Program just three hours after Congress passed it.
Again, on Feb. 17, Obama signed his 1,000-page $787 billion stimulus aimed at jolting the declining U.S. economy. He did so only one business day after it passed through Congress – without allowing for five days of public comment.
Broken promise No. 2: Capital gains tax elimination
According to his comprehensive tax plan released during his campaign, Obama promised to “eliminate capital gains taxes for small businesses.”
Just weeks prior to the election, Obama advisers Austan Goolsbee and Jason Furman told the Wall Street Journal that Obama planned tax cuts that included “the elimination of capital gains taxes for small businesses and start-ups.”
People who invest in small businesses have only been allowed to exclude 50 percent of that gain from capital gains taxes. While Obama’s $787 billion economic-stimulus package reduces that tax liability – raising the exclusion to 75 percent – it does not eliminate it.
Broken promise No. 3: New American jobs tax credit
During his transition, Obama’s promised to provide a $3,000 refundable tax credit to existing businesses for every additional full-time U.S. employee hired in 2009 and 2010.
“If a company that currently has 10 U.S. employees increases its domestic full time employment to 20 employees, this company would get a $30,000 tax credit – enough to offset the entire added payroll tax costs to the company for the first $50,000 of income for the new employees,” the transition website stated. “The tax credit will benefit all companies creating net new jobs, even those struggling to make a profit.”
Obama’s promise was never included in the stimulus package.
Broken promise No. 4: Hiatus on 401(k) penalties
Many unemployed and financially strapped Americans have considered early withdrawals on 401(k) and retirement accounts to survive the current recession. However, the IRS imposes strict penalties of up to 10 percent plus federal, state and local income taxes on such advances.
Workers who have taken $10,000 in early withdrawals from retirement plans have lost as much as 40 percent to taxes and penalties, depending upon tax brackets.
In October 2008, Obama released his “Rescue Plan for the Middle-Class” in which he promised to allow financially distressed Americans to withdraw up to $10,000 from their 401(k) accounts and retirement savings without having to pay penalties. They would only pay income taxes on the amount.
“Since so many Americans will be struggling to pay the bills over the next year, I propose that we allow every family to withdraw up to 15% from their IRA or 401(k) – up to a maximum of $10,000 – without any fine or penalty throughout 2009,” Obama said. “This will help families get through this crisis without being forced to make painful choices like selling their homes or not sending their kids to college.”
However, Obama’s promise was never included in his recent stimulus package.
Broken promise No. 5: ‘No jobs for lobbyists’
William J. Lynn III
Obama promised America he would loosen the grip of lobbyists on Washington.
In his Nov. 10, 2007, speech in Des Moines, Iowa, Obama declared:
I am in this race to tell the corporate lobbyists that their days of setting the agenda in Washington are over. I have done more than any other candidate in this race to take on lobbyists — and won. They have not funded my campaign, they will not run my White House, and they will not drown out the voices of the American people when I am president.
During his campaign, Obama also said, “I have done more to take on lobbyists than any other candidate in this race. I don’t take a dime of their money, and when I am president, they won’t find a job in my White House.”
However, USA Today reported Obama’s campaign fundraising team included 38 members of law firms that were paid $138 million in 2007 to lobby the federal government.
“Those lawyers, including 10 former federal lobbyists, have pledged to raise at least $3.5 million” for Obama’s campaign, the report states. “Employees of their firms have given Obama’s campaign $2.26 million.”
It wasn’t long before he allowed at least two dozen exceptions and broke his promise.
Obama’s own ethic rules barred officials of his administration from lobbying their former colleagues “for as long as I am president.” He also said former lobbyists would be prohibited from working for agencies they had lobbied within the past two years. President Obama later waived his rules for at least two of his nominees – William J. Lynn III, undersecretary at the Department of Defense and recent lobbyist for Raytheon, and William Corr, deputy secretary for the Department of Health and Human Services and anti-tobacco lobbyist for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
Broken promise No. 6: Earmark reform
As WND reports, at the first presidential debate in Oxford, Miss., Obama declared, “[W]e need earmark reform. And when I’m president, I will go line by line to make sure that we are not spending money unwisely.”
However, in February, Obama passed his $787 billion stimulus aimed at jolting the declining U.S. economy. Before a joint session of Congress, Obama declared: “Now, I’m proud that we passed a recovery plan free of earmarks.”
Some chuckled in amusement when he claimed the bill contained no pork.
“There was just a roar of laughter – because there were earmarks,” Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., told CNN.
U.S. News & World Report found at least eight earmarks in his stimulus bill.
Obama also signed a $410 billion omnibus bill for 2009. More than 9,000 earmarks in the spending bill total an estimated $7.7 billion.
Even though the Democrat-controlled Congress crafted the bill after Obama’s election, the administration claims the added pork is just “unfinished business” from last year.
The White House website states, “Obama and Biden will slash earmarks to no greater than 1994 levels and ensure all spending decisions are open to the public.” However, watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense reports that the omnibus pork alone already totals $7.7 billion – just less than the total of $7.8 billion in earmarks in 1994 – and the figure does not include $6.6 billion in earmarks contained in three previous spending bills Congress passed amid the bailout crisis last year.
During his three years in the Senate, Obama requested more than $860 million in earmarks, according to the group. White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel has 16 earmarks – worth approximately $8.5 million – in the bill.
Broken promise No. 7: Bring troops home in 16 months
On his campaign website, Obama promised he would “remove one to two combat brigades each month, and have all of our combat brigades out of Iraq within 16 months.”
His commitment to bring combat troops home by May 20, 2010, and end the war gave him an edge among Democrats over candidate Hillary Clinton.
However, on Feb. 27, Obama declared, “Let me say this as plainly as I can: By Aug. 31, 2010, our combat mission in Iraq will end.”
If Obama adheres to his plan, combat troops will return home months later than originally promised. The New York Times reports, Obama will withdraw only two of the 14 brigades before December.
As part of a “new era of American leadership,” he also said he would leave behind a residual force of 35,000 to 50,000 troops and remove all U.S. soldiers from Iraq by Dec. 31, 2011 – the same deadline the Bush administration negotiated with the Iraqi government last year in its Status of Forces Agreement.
Additionally, some combat units would remain in Iraq beyond Obama’s declared August 2010 withdrawal. Rather than returning home, they would simply face reassignment as “advisory training brigades.”
Even as combat troops are brought home, Pentagon officials have said fresh units will continue deploying to Iraq.
Broken promise No. 8: Sign ‘Freedom of Choice Act’
On July 17, 2007, Obama told the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, “The first thing I’d do as president is, is sign the Freedom of Choice Act. That’s the first thing that I’d do.”
Obama expressed his support for the sweeping plan that would repeal all national and state regulations of abortion passed over the last 35 years.
His agenda regarding “reproductive choice” is posted on the White House website. It states, Obama “has been a consistent champion of reproductive choice and will make preserving women’s rights under Roe v. Wade a priority in his Administration.”
Obama chose radical pro-abortion Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius to serve as the Health secretary, moved to void job protections for health workers who oppose abortion and repealed a ban on U.S. taxpayer funding of foreign abortions. While many pro-life advocates consider it a blessing that Obama has no fulfilled his promise to sign the Freedom of Choice Act, he has made no mention of the legislation since he took office.
Broken promise No. 9: $4,000 college credit
Obama pledged to make college “affordable for all Americans” when he announced his American Opportunity Tax Credit.
His campaign promise read: “This universal and fully refundable credit will ensure that the first $4,000 of a college education is completely free for most Americans, and will cover two-thirds the cost of tuition at the average public college or university and make community college tuition completely free for most students. Recipients of the credit will be required to conduct 100 hours of community service.”
While the American Opportunity Tax Credit was included in the recent stimulus bill, it offers a credit of only $2,500 for up to two years and requires no commitment to community service.
Broken promise No. 10: Transparency
On the White House website, the Obama administration claims it will be “the most open and transparent in history.
The administration released a memo on Jan. 21, stating:
My Administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government. We will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration. Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government.
Government should be transparent. Transparency promotes accountability and provides information for citizens about what their Government is doing. …
However, Congress and the administration hurried the $787 billion, 1,027-page American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 to a vote after allowing lawmakers just a few hours to read the bill. It was also available online in a form that could not be keyword searched.
While former administrations immediately posted transcripts of presidential speeches – including some remarks before delivery – the White House website often waits until days or even weeks after an event to release transcripts.
Also, some say recent reports of tax evasion by Obama nominees is evidence that the administration is not as transparent as promised.
Just before Obama named Timothy Geithner to be his treasury secretary, the president of the New York Federal Reserve Bank quietly paid $26,000 in back taxes and interest due since 2001 and 2002.
Obama characterized the eight-year tax evasion as “an innocent mistake.”
But as many as five of his picks defaulted on taxes, including former nominee for health and human services secretary, Tom Daschle; former nominee for chief performance officer, Nancy Killefer; U.S. trade representative nominee Ron Kirk and Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis.
Furthermore, while the president posted his own weekly “fireside chats” on YouTube during the campaign, many journalists report that he has a history of being less than welcoming to the Fourth Estate.
Columbia Journalism Review noted Obama’s treatment of the press: “During the campaign, reporters’ access to Obama was severely limited. On-the-record conversations with the candidate were even more so. Indeed, Obama’s overall treatment of the press – not just in his general rejection of the day-to-day news cycle, but also in his tendency to shun his national traveling press corps … created the impression that its members were, to him, a buzzing nuisance. Instead of the voice of the people.”
WND’s correspondent at the White House, Les Kinsolving, raised the issue in February that most of the reporters recognized for questions in the briefing room were among the same handful over and over again. Some of them had been given four or even five opportunities for questions while other reporters were not recognized at all.
Kinsolving, a senior journalist in the White House press corps, was not allowed to voice his questions on issues on which millions of WND readers have expressed an interest. There were also complaints about the time of the November election that not only did Obama rely on a few key reporters for questions, those reporters were chosen ahead of time.
And, finally, WND has reported on dozens of legal challenges to Obama’s status as a “natural born citizen.” The Constitution, Article 2, Section 1, states, “No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President.”
Obama’s alleged Certification of Live Birth is not his original 1961 birth certificate
However, Obama has refused repeated calls to publicly release his Hawaiian birth certificate, which would include the actual hospital that performed the delivery. His campaign posted an alleged “Certification of Live Birth” online, but it is not the same as a Hawaii birth certificate. COLBs have been issued by Hawaii to parents whose children are not born in the state.
Instead of providing the documentation to end the lawsuits, a series of law firms have been hired on Obama’s behalf around the nation to prevent any public access to his birth certificate, passport records, college records and other documents. – even after more than 320,000 people signed a petition demanding that he live up to his promise of transparency by releasing the certificate to the public.
Nonetheless, during his campaign and after he took office, Obama maintained that his administration would have an unyielding commitment to transparency.
“The American people want to trust in our government again – we just need a government that will trust in us,” he said in a campaign speech. “And making government accountable to the people isn’t just a cause of this campaign – it’s been a cause of my life for two decades.”
Broken promise No. 11: Executive signing statements
During the campaign, Obama criticized President Bush for issuing “signing statements,” attached letters to congressionally-passed bills that add interpretation and instruction on how to carry out the law.
“That’s not part of [the president's] power,” Obama told an audience in a recorded video during the campaign, further alleging it was a violation of the Constitution for the president to attach signing statements to signed bills.
On March 9, Politico reports, Obama even issued a memorandum negating Bush’s signing statements by telling agencies not to follow on them without consulting with the Justice Department in advance.
Two days later, Obama attached his first signing statement to a $410 billion government spending bill, even as he signed it into law.
Obama’s signing statement modified, interpreted and even dismissed dozens of statutes of the bill, including a section limiting his ability to put U.S. troops under United Nations command.
The New York Times reports Obama said he would continue the practice of issuing signing statements, though “with caution and restraint, based only on interpretations of the Constitution that are well founded.”
The White House declined to respond to WND’s request for comment on Obama’s promises.