Where Are They Now: President Obama’s 2013 State of the Union Proposals

Jan 28, 2014 11:29am
GTY obama state of union 2013 sr 140128 16x9 608 Where Are They Now: President Obamas 2013 State of the Union Proposals

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/Getty Images)

Now that the annual ritualistic State of the Union address is here again, it’s worth taking a look at what the Union has managed to accomplish in the last year, according to the blueprint President Obama laid out in his 2013 address.

Spoiler alert: not very much.

Even Obama acknowledges that 2013 wasn’t particularly productive. Even before the final quarter of the year was effectively nullified by a combination of a government shutdown and the flawed roll-out of his own health care law, little had been accomplished.

There is the obvious: gun control, entitlement reform, and immigration, all of which ultimately went nowhere.  But many may not even remember a slew of proposals that briefly had their day in the sun during the State of the Union Address circa February 2013.

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The White House created this handy info graphic to explain the president’s proposal to use oil and gas revenue to create energy security trust.

A few months later, however, that plan began collecting dust.

To be sure, much of Obama’s agenda as outlined in last year’s speech was at the mercy of Congress’ whims, which explains why this year, the White House has signaled that Obama will propose sidestepping Congress altogether.

But more critically, the long list of unfinished business in last year’s state of the union is a cautionary tale against putting too much stock in a single speech—particularly while government is still divided between the two parties.

Much of Obama’s agenda made its way partly through the political system– passing through the Democratic Senate with the executive’s endorsement– but stalled the Republican House of Representatives.

Here’s the full scorecard of Obama’s last State of the Union Address. All quotes are taken from the president’s address, as delivered:

Entitlement reform

“On Medicare, I’m prepared to enact reforms that will achieve the same amount of health care savings by the beginning of the next decade as the reforms proposed by the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles Commission.”

Progress: none

Tax reform

“Now is our best chance for bipartisan, comprehensive tax reform that encourages job creation and helps bring down the deficit. We can get this done.”

Progress: none

Manufacturing hubs

“So tonight I’m announcing the launch of three more of these manufacturing hubs, where businesses will partner with the Department of Defense and Energy to turn regions left behind by globalization into global centers of high-tech jobs. And I ask this Congress to help create a network of 15 of these hubs and guarantee that the next revolution in manufacturing is made right here in America. We can get that done.”

Progress: promise kept (just in time)

Boosted research and development

Now is not the time to gut these job-creating investments in science and innovation, now is the time to reach a level of research and development not seen since the height of the space race. We need to make those investments.

Progress: little

Climate change legislation

“I urge this Congress to get together, pursue a bipartisan, market-based solution to climate change, like the one John McCain and Joe Lieberman worked on together a few years ago. But if Congress won’t act soon to protect future generations, I will. I will direct my Cabinet to come up with executive actions we can take, now and in the future, to reduce pollution, prepare our communities for the consequences of climate change, and speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy.”

Progress: party kept.

Security trust funded by oil and gas revenue

“So tonight I propose we use some of our oil and gas revenues to fund an energy security trust that will drive new research and technology to shift our cars and trucks off oil for good. If a nonpartisan coalition of CEOs and retired generals and admirals can get behind this idea, then so can we.”

Progress: none

Fixing schools and bridges

“So tonight I propose a Fix-It-First program to put people to work as soon as possible on our most urgent repairs, like the nearly 70,000 structurally deficient bridges across the country. And to make sure taxpayers don’t shoulder the whole burden, I’m also proposing a partnership to rebuild America that attracts private capital to upgrade what our businesses need most: modern ports to move our goods, modern pipelines to withstand a storm, modern schools worthy of our children. Let’s prove there’s no better place to do business than here in the United States of America, and let’s start right away. We can get this done.”

Progress: none

Homeowner refinancing

“Right now there’s a bill in this Congress that would give every responsible homeowner in America the chance to save $3,000 a year by refinancing at today’s rates.”

Progress: (Not completed by Congress)

Universal preschool

“So tonight I propose working with States to make high-quality preschool available to every single child in America. That’s something we should be able to do.”

Progress: some.

Science and technology education

“Tonight I’m announcing a new challenge to redesign America’s high schools so they better equip graduates for the demands of a high-tech economy. And we’ll reward schools that develop new partnerships with colleges and employers and create classes that focus on science, technology, engineering, and math: the skills today’s employers are looking for to fill the jobs that are there right now and will be there in the future.”

Progress: Promise kept

College affordability

“So tonight I ask Congress to change the Higher Education Act so that affordability and value are included in determining which colleges receive certain types of Federal aid.”

Progress: Promise kept

Comprehensive immigration reform

“Our economy is stronger when we harness the talents and ingenuity of striving, hopeful immigrants. And right now leaders from the business, labor, law enforcement, faith communities, they all agree that the time has come to pass comprehensive immigration reform. Now is the time to do it. Now is the time to get it done. [Applause] Now is the time to get it done.”

Progress: some (not completed by Congress)

‘Violence Against Women Act’

“Today the Senate passed the “Violence Against Women’s Act” that Joe Biden originally wrote almost 20 years ago. And I now urge the House to do the same. Good job, Joe.”

Progress: Promise Kept

‘Paycheck Fairness Act’

“And I ask this Congress to declare that women should earn a living equal to their efforts, and finally pass the “Paycheck Fairness Act” this year.”

Progress: some (not completed by Congress)

Raising the minimum wage

“So here’s an idea that Governor Romney and I actually agreed on last year: Let’s tie the minimum wage to the cost of living so that it finally becomes a wage you can live on.”

Progress: none (Obama plans to address it in his speech tonight.)

Economic redevelopment for “hardest hit towns”

“Let’s offer incentives to companies that hire Americans who’ve got what it takes to fill that job opening, but have been out of work so long that no one will give them a chance anymore. Let’s put people back to work rebuilding vacant homes in rundown neighborhoods. And this year, my administration will begin to partner with 20 of the hardest hit towns in America to get these communities back on their feet. Now, we’ll work with local leaders to target resources at public safety and education and housing.

We’ll give new tax credits to businesses that hire and invest. And we’ll work to strengthen families by removing the financial deterrents to marriage for low-income couples and do more to encourage fatherhood, because what makes you a man isn’t the ability to conceive a child, it’s having the courage to raise one. And we want to encourage that. We want to help that.”

Progress: Promise kept

Afghanistan drawdown

“This spring, our forces will move into a support role, while Afghan security forces take the lead. Tonight I can announce that over the next year, another 34,000 American troops will come home from Afghanistan. This drawdown will continue, and by the end of next year, our war in Afghanistan will be over.”

Progress: in progress

International trade

“To boost American exports, support American jobs and level the playing field in the growing markets of Asia, we intend to complete negotiations on a Trans-Pacific Partnership. And tonight I’m announcing that we will launch talks on a comprehensive transatlantic trade and investment partnership with the European Union, because trade that is fair and free across the Atlantic supports millions of good-paying American jobs.”

Progress: Promise kept 

Voting experience

“So tonight I’m announcing a nonpartisan commission to improve the voting experience in America. And it definitely needs improvement.”

Progress: Promise kept

Gun control

“Overwhelming majorities of Americans—Americans who believe in the Second Amendment—have come together around commonsense reform, like background checks that will make it harder for criminals to get their hands on a gun. Senators of both parties are working together on tough new laws to prevent anyone from buying guns for resale to criminals.”

Progress: some (not completed by Congress

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