Taking Stock of President Obama's 2010 State of the Union Address

VIDEO: Jake Tapper lists the top 3 things to watch for during the Presidents address.
Share
Copy

President Obama heads to Capitol Hill for his State of the Union address tonight with some wind at his back -- and perhaps more of a spring to his step than pundits would have predicted after the November midterms, which he called a "shellacking" for the Democrats.

With his approval ratings on the upswing and a lame-duck Congressional session that turned out to be one of the most productive months of his presidency, the White House says Obama is expected to look forward in his State of the Union address tonight.

His focus will be on five key issues: innovation, education, infrastructure, tackling the national debt, and government reform.

The White House said that president is not likely to go through a "laundry list" of policy proposals tonight, but instead will be include a broader discussion about the direction he believes the nation needs to head.

The president will "spend most of his time talking about the economy, talking about the challenges that we've faced, both in the short term, in terms of doing whatever we can to help create jobs," said White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.

He said that for the medium and long term focus, Obama will look at how the government can get the nation's "fiscal house in order."

The theme of the president's speech will be "How We Win the Future," but it's worthwhile to look back at what he outlined in last year's State of the Union, and take stock of what he did and did not achieve:

Health Care: Yes

"Here's what I ask Congress, though: Don't walk away from reform. Not now. Not when we are so close. Let us find a way to come together and finish the job for the American people. Let's get it done. Let's get it done."

On March 23, Obama signed the health care bill into law, calling it "remarkable and improbable." Vice President Biden had another way of looking at it – calling the bill signing "a big f---ing deal."

"With all the punditry, all of the lobbying, all the game playing that passes for governing in Washington, it's been easy at times to doubt our ability to do such a big thing, such a complicated thing, to wonder if there are limits to what we as a people can still achieve," Obama said at a signing ceremony that day at the White House.

"It's easy to succumb to the sense of cynicism about what's possible in this country. But today we are affirming that essential truth, a truth every generation is called to rediscover for itself: that we are not a nation that scales back its aspirations, we are not a nation that falls prey to doubt or mistrust."

State of the Union: Did Obama Deliver on Last Year's Goals?

More than half of the health care bill has already been put in place, including such popular provisions as allowing adult children to stay on their parents insurance until they turn 26; discounts for seniors for prescription drugs; and insurance coverage for those with pre-existing conditions.

The House of Representatives, led by a new Republican majority, voted last week to repeal the health care law, but the movement will almost undoubtedly die in the Democratically-controlled Senate. House Republicans and some conservative Democrats have vowed to re-examine portions of the law to try and repeal specific items, while letting some of its provisions stand.

Job Creation: Yes and No

"We're on track to add another one and a half million jobs to this total by the end of the year… But I realize that for every success story, there are other stories, of men and women who wake up with the anguish of not knowing where their next paycheck will come from; who send out resumes week after week and hear nothing in response. That is why jobs must be our number-one focus in 2010, and that's why I'm calling for a new jobs bill tonight. "

In last year's speech, Obama said because of the Recovery Act, signed into law on Feb. 17, 2009 the nation was on track to add 1.5 million jobs by the end of 2010.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1.1 million jobs were added in 2010. The jobs market saw ups and downs last year, as a result of the government's temporary hiring of Census workers, but there was one bright spot: Last year was the first year the nation added jobs since 2007.

Financial Reform: Yes

"We need to make sure consumers and middle-class families have the information they need to make financial decisions. We can't allow financial institutions, including those that take your deposits, to take risks that threaten the whole economy."

President Obama signed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act on July 21. The bill, a response to the 2008 financial meltdown, increased oversight of Wall Street in hope of averting a future crisis.

"These reforms represent the strongest consumer financial protections in history -- in history," he said at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington.

Energy Policy: No

"It means passing a comprehensive energy and climate bill with incentives that will finally make clean energy the profitable kind of energy in America."

State of the Union: Taking Stock

Last summer, Senate Democrats put on hold a push for comprehensive energy and climate change reform when it was clear they could not gain enough Republican support to get it passed, instead opting to move forward with a scaled-back bill that did not include any cap-and-trade measures to reduce the output of greenhouse gases.

For months Democrats had been trying to move forward with a sweeping bill that would have capped carbon emissions and imposed alternative energy mandates for power companies, but ultimately they failed to secure the backing of any GOP lawmakers.

With a 59-vote majority in the Senate, Democrats only had to find one GOP lawmaker to back the effort in order to overcome any eventual filibuster, but even that proved too tall an order.

The House passed a comprehensive energy bill in 2009 and a dozen vulnerable Democrats who voted for the legislation lost in the 2010 midterms after taking a beating from their opponents on this issue.

Tax Cuts: Yes and No

"To help working families, we'll extend our middle-class tax cuts. But at a time of record deficits, we will not continue tax cuts for oil companies, for investment fund managers, and for those making over $250,000 a year. We just can't afford it."

After months of fierce negotiations and contentious compromises, the House of Representatives passed a temporary extension of all of the Bush tax cuts on Dec. 16, following passage by the Senate the week before.

The legislation passed with bipartisan support -- but it did not follow through on Obama's State of the Union pledge to eliminate tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.

Instead, the $858 billion dollar tax plan extended the Bush tax cuts for all Americans for two more years -- including those making over $250,000. The law also extended unemployment benefits for an additional 13 months for approximately nine million Americans, and provided $400 billion in tax cuts and credits, aimed at boosting the struggling economy.

Obama signed the legislation on Dec. 17, calling it "a good deal for the American people."

He hailed the bipartisan compromise that allowed middle class Americans to keep their tax cuts.

"This is progress and that's what they sent us here to achieve," Obama said at the bill signing which featured members of both parties. "By a wide bipartisan margin, both houses of Congress have now passed a package of tax relief that will protect the middle class, that will grow our economy, and will create jobs for the American people."

'Don't Ask, Don't Tell:' Yes

"This year, I will work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are. It's the right thing to do."

During a frenetic lame-duck session in December, Congress passed a repeal of the 17-year-old ban on gays serving in the military. President Obama signed the legislation at the White House on Dec. 22 at an emotional event for him, Members of Congress and activists who had been pushing for the repeal.

"I am -- I am -- I am just overwhelmed," the president said. "This -- this is a very good day."

More Campaign Finance Disclosure: No

"I don't think American elections should be bankrolled by America's most powerful interests, or, worse, by foreign entities. They should be decided by the American people. And I'd urge Democrats and Republicans to pass a bill that helps to correct some of these problems."

Obama called for Congress to pass legislation to that would require more disclosure for election contributions, but the DISCLOSE Act failed to advance in the Senate in July.

$30 Billion From Bank Bailout to Small Business: Yes

"I'm proposing that we take $30 billion of the money Wall Street banks have repaid and use it to help community banks give small businesses the credit they need to stay afloat. I'm also proposing a new small business tax credit -- one that will go to over one million small businesses who hire new workers or raise wages."

Congress passed the Small Business Lending Fund Act of 2010 in September, approving $30 billion in small businesses loans and offering more than $12 billion in tax incentives to help small businesses grow and add jobs. Supporters of the bill said the $30 billion will leverage into $300 billion in lending to small businesses.

The Treasury Department oversees the small business lending facility, which allows small banks – those with under $10 billion in assets – to use government funds to extend loans to small businesses.

Democrats estimated that the bill could ultimately help create up to 700,000 new jobs.

ABC News' Amy Bingham and Matthew Jaffe contributed to this report.

Join the Discussion
You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...