The Washington Post

Obama’s 2011 State of the Union address: an accounting

(Associated Press)

Every president announces a slew of initiatives in his State of the Union address. Here, in order of delivery, is a summary of the key proposals, pledges or priorities announced by Obama a year ago —and what happened to them.

When we did this exercise a year ago, Obama had an impressive success rate in 2010, which was a clear benefit of having commanding majorities in both houses of Congress. We predicted then that with Republicans in charge of the House of Representatives, his batting average in 2011 was sure to fall, and this accounting demonstrates that to be the case. In this election year, one can expect even more gridlock and stalled initiatives.

The Proposals

Obama: “We’ll invest in biomedical research, information technology, and especially clean energy technology -- an investment that will strengthen our security, protect our planet, and create countless new jobs for our people.”

Obama: “With more research and incentives, we can break our dependence on oil with biofuels, and become the first country to have a million electric vehicles on the road by 2015. We need to get behind this innovation. And to help pay for it, I’m asking Congress to eliminate the billions in taxpayer dollars we currently give to oil companies.”

Obama: “And over the next 10 years, with so many baby boomers retiring from our classrooms, we want to prepare 100,000 new teachers in the fields of science and technology and engineering and math.”

Obama: “I ask Congress to go further, and make permanent our tuition tax credit –- worth $10,000 for four years of college.”

Obama: “I am prepared to work with Republicans and Democrats to protect our borders, enforce our laws and address the millions of undocumented workers who are now living in the shadows.”

Obama: “We’ll put more Americans to work repairing crumbling roads and bridges. We’ll make sure this is fully paid for, attract private investment, and pick projects based [on] what’s best for the economy, not politicians.”

Obama: “Tonight, I’m asking Democrats and Republicans to simplify the system. Get rid of the loopholes. Level the playing field. And use the savings to lower the corporate tax rate for the first time in 25 years –- without adding to our deficit. It can be done.”

Obama: “Last month, we finalized a trade agreement with South Korea that will support at least 70,000 American jobs. This agreement has unprecedented support from business and labor, Democrats and Republicans -- and I ask this Congress to pass it as soon as possible.”

Obama: “To reduce barriers to growth and investment, I’ve ordered a review of government regulations. When we find rules that put an unnecessary burden on businesses, we will fix them.”

Obama: “If you have ideas about how to improve this [health care] law by making care better or more affordable, I am eager to work with you. We can start right now by correcting a flaw in the legislation that has placed an unnecessary bookkeeping burden on small businesses.”

Obama: “I am proposing that starting this year, we freeze annual domestic spending for the next five years. Now, this would reduce the deficit by more than $400 billion over the next decade, and will bring discretionary spending to the lowest share of our economy since Dwight Eisenhower was President.”

Obama: “I’m willing to look at other ideas to bring down costs, including one that Republicans suggested last year — medical malpractice reform to rein in frivolous lawsuits.”

Obama: “To put us on solid ground, we should also find a bipartisan solution to strengthen Social Security for future generations.”

Obama: “And if we truly care about our deficit, we simply can’t afford a permanent extension of the tax cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans. Before we take money away from our schools or scholarships away from our students, we should ask millionaires to give up their tax break.”

Obama: “In the coming months, my administration will develop a proposal to merge, consolidate, and reorganize the federal government in a way that best serves the goal of a more competitive America. I will submit that proposal to Congress for a vote –- and we will push to get it passed.”

Obama: “Because the American people deserve to know that special interests aren’t larding up legislation with pet projects, both parties in Congress should know this: If a bill comes to my desk with earmarks inside, I will veto it. I will veto it.”

Obama: “The Iraq war is coming to an end. …This year, we will work with nearly 50 countries to begin a transition to an Afghan lead. And this July, we will begin to bring our troops home.”

Obama: “In Pakistan, al Qaeda’s leadership is under more pressure than at any point since 2001. Their leaders and operatives are being removed from the battlefield. Their safe havens are shrinking. And we’ve sent a message from the Afghan border to the Arabian Peninsula to all parts of the globe: We will not relent, we will not waver, and we will defeat you.”

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Glenn Kessler has reported on domestic and foreign policy for more than three decades. He would like your help in keeping an eye on public figures. Send him statements to fact check by emailing him, tweeting at him, or sending him a message on Facebook.


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