The run-up to the final State of the Union address of the Obama presidency prompted a retrospective of promises left on the table from the president’s prior annual speeches to a joint session of Congress.
Parenthetically, the new U.S. president won’t be sworn in until January 20, 2017, however.
In summarizing tonight’s SOTU address by President Obama, CNN called attention to the difference from prior annual reports to the nation, i.e., that it omitted the typical laundry list of government initiatives, although it did repeat some familiar themes and calls to action. “While Obama avoided the long list of legislative proposals that Congress has no intention of taking up, he strongly defended his domestic record, claiming credit for 14 million new jobs and a halving of the unemployment rate. He said those who claimed the economy was in decline are ‘peddling fiction.'”
Nor did the president discuss the 10 U.S. sailors taken prisoner today in the Persian Gulf by Iran.
“It still was a laundry list of issues, but it was a greatest hits of things he didn’t get done,” said NBC News correspondent Chuck Todd tonight after the SOTU speech.
Barack Obama, who ran for president on a platform of hope and change, among other things, called upon America to “fix our politics,” given the continued partisan nature of Washington.
Obama “tried to reconcile an optimistic assessment of the nation’s progress with the anxieties he conceded have gripped Americans during his tenure…In a prime-time televised speech that was more a broad statement of vision than a policy prescription, Mr. Obama sought to present an ambitious portrait of the nation after seven years of his leadership…,” the New York Times observed about tonight’s SOTU address.
Since the beginning of his administration, Obama has also vowed to put a renewed emphasis on finding a cure for cancer, and in tonight’s speech he appointed VP Joe Biden to head up that effort in the final year of his term.
According to NBC News, significant Obama priorities/campaign promises that have yet to be accomplished include closing the Guantanamo Bay prison (although many detainees have been released), an assault weapons ban, a formal Congressional resolution to fight ISIS, monthly meetings with House and Senate leadership, tax simplification, immigration reform, withdrawing all U.S. troops from Afghanistan, passing a clean energy bill, and lowering college tuition.
The multimedia organization Grabien put together a montage of the 140 SOTU unfulfilled promises that you can watch here.
“Some have been mentioned in consecutive years’ speeches, including the closing Guantanamo Bay (2009-2015) and passing comprehensive immigration reform (2010-2014). Others, noted only once or twice, have gone uncompleted and appear to have been forgotten. In 2011, Obama said he would freeze government spending for three years. Two years later, he promised to freeze federal spending for five years,” the Washington Examiner explained about the video montage.
Obama is hardly the only president who has fallen short of various campaign and SOTU promises and the like. That being said, some of the unfulfilled SOTU promises in the incumbent administration include the following:
- eliminating wasteful government programs and regulations
- cutting the deficit in half
- freezing domestic government spending
- increasing the federal minimum wage
- ending the Afghanistan war
- cutting taxes for families and corporations
- eliminating tax loopholes for the rich
- if you like your healthcare plan/doctor, you can keep it
- fixing the immigration system
- cracking down on Wall Street crooks
- reforming Medicare
- rebuilding the country’s infrastructure
- making college more affordable
- straightening out the VA healthcare system
The Federalist highlighted another key promise: “Our government shouldn’t make promises we can’t keep, but we must keep promises we’ve already made.”
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley delivered the Republican response to the State of the Union.
Did you watch Barack Obama’s final State of the Union address tonight? In general, how would you rate the accomplishments of the Obama presidency?
(Photo by Susan Walsh/AP)