The president had promised that most of the stimulus money would go toward infrastructure projects and broadband initiatives. And nearly a year into the program, those areas have seen the greatest benefit of the stimulus plan. The U.S. Department of Education has received the biggest share of the stimulus pie.
Obama also last year promised that "95 percent of working households in America will receive a tax cut." The president then implemented the Making Work Pay tax credit, which works out to a maximum of $400 for working individuals and $800 for couples filing jointly on their 2009 and 2010 tax returns.
The president, in today's State of the Union speech, will once again address tax breaks, this time focusing on middle-class tax credits. The administration is proposing to increase the child and dependent tax credit, cap student federal loan payments and expand tax credits. The Obama administration also pushed and then extended the housing credit for homebuyers, keeping in line with the president's promise to help "responsible families facing the threat of foreclosure lower their monthly payments and refinance their mortgages."
Given the resistance from Republicans and the private sector, financial regulation has been a relatively tough hurdle for the Obama administration. The president told Americans in February that he would demand more accountability from banks that take taxpayer money.
"I intend to hold these banks fully accountable for the assistance they receive, and this time, they will have to clearly demonstrate how taxpayer dollars result in more lending for the American taxpayer," the president said. "This time, CEOs won't be able to use taxpayer money to pad their paychecks, or buy fancy drapes, or disappear on a private jet. Those days are over."
So far, however, there has been little more than a cat-and-mouse chase between Washington and Wall Street. Big banks are still planning hefty bonuses for executives.
The top-five financial institutions in the United States -- Bank of America, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and Morgan Stanley -- allocated roughly $90 billion for overall compensation, of which bonuses comprise more than half. The Wall Street Journal reported today that executives from at least two banks that received federal money -- Citigroup and Bank of America -- will take private flights to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
Obama has upped his rhetoric against Wall Street and has proposed a series of changes, the latest being a plan to crack down on high-risk trades by banks. The president has also proposed a new tax on banks in the hopes of making up to $120 billion given under the Troubled Asset Relief Program.
"Never again will the American taxpayer be held hostage by a bank that is 'too big to fail," the president vowed last week. "We cannot accept a system in which shareholders make money on these operations if the bank wins, but taxpayers foot the bill if the bank loses."
Obama, to channel the populist anger against Wall Street, is stepping up the push against banks. In his budget proposal, Obama will promise a tax on 50 of the top financial firms to be in place for 10 years, or as long as it takes to raise the full amount necessary to cover the taxpayer losses under TARP.