8 State of the Union Promises Obama Has Made

He's said a lot of things in State of the Union speeches. Some Have Come True.

February 12, 2013, 5:52 PM

Feb. 12, 2013 -- State of the Union speeches are chock full of talk about the future. Some of it comes true, and some of it doesn't.

President Obama has tossed out his share of promises during past State of the Unions. Here's a rundown:

1. Cut the Deficit in Half. Obama in 2009: "Yesterday, I held a fiscal summit where I pledged to cut the deficit in half by the end of my first term in office." Did it happen? No. In 2009, the Office of Management and Budget estimated a deficit of $1.4 trillion. In 2013, it projects a deficit of $900 billion.

Read more: 7 Things Obama Always Says in the SOTU

2. Save or Create Over 3.5 Million Jobs. Obama in 2009, talking about the stimulus bill: "Over the next two years, this plan will save or create 3.5 million jobs." Did it happen? Maybe. It might be impossible to say how many jobs were "created or saved" by the stimulus bill, and estimates differ. The Congressional Budget Office supplies quarterly reports on stimulus jobs, and in the first quarter of 2011 (two years after Obama made this promise), CBO estimated that the stimulus created between 1.2 million and 3.3 million jobs and "increased the number of full-time-equivalent (FTE) jobs by 1.6 million to 4.6 million compared with what would have occurred otherwise."

3. Double Exports by 2014. Obama in 2011: "To help businesses sell more products abroad, we set a goal of doubling our exports by 2014 -- because the more we export, the more jobs we create here at home." Did it happen? TBD. Obama made this promise in early 2011, so time will tell. Exports have fluctuated over the past five years, but since the end of 2010, they've risen 21 percent, from $1.28 trillion in 2010 to $1.55 trillion in 2012.

Read more: Boehner: Obama Lacks 'Guts'

4. Boost High-Speed Rail Access to 80 percent. Obama in 2011: "Within 25 years, our goal is to give 80 percent of Americans access to high-speed rail." Did it happen? TBD. Major infrastructure projects take a lot of time, so it may take 25 years to find out if Obama's wish comes true. Asked about progress, U.S. Department of Transportation spokesman Kevin Thompson told ABC News, "We are building a comprehensive rail network that's going to increase train frequencies, reduce travel times, and increase options for travelers."

5. Reorganize the Federal Government. Obama in 2011: "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." Did it happen? Sort of. Obama asked Congress for the authority to reorganize in February 2012, but congressional Republicans found his proposal lacking. "The White House position was, 'We want you to give us the authority,'" said one GOP aide. The one-and-a-half-page bill did not include specific plans, and in a letter to House Speaker John Boehner, acting Office of Management Budget Director Jeffrey Zients said he would submit a more detailed proposal once Congress had granted the authority. The proposal remains stuck in the House.

Read more: How's the Speech? 'We'll Find Out Tonight,' Obama Says

6. Sign an Executive Order to Help Construction. Obama in 2012: "In the next few weeks, I will sign an executive order clearing away the red tape that slows down too many construction projects." Did it happen? Yes. On March 22, Obama signed an executive order to create a multi-agency steering committee to streamline federal construction contracting. Among other related goals, the committee was tapped to "significantly reduce the aggregate time required to make Federal permitting and review decisions on infrastructure projects while improving outcomes for communities and the environment."

7. Establish a Financial Crimes Unit. Obama in 2012: "We'll also establish a Financial Crimes Unit of highly trained investigators to crack down on large-scale fraud and protect people's investments." Did it happen? Yes. The Department of Justice had already created a Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, and the financial crimes unit, known officially as the Residential Mortgage Backed Securities (RMBS) Working Group, arose as a working-group within the task force, according to a Department of Justice official. The working group has hired about 200 dedicated staff of prosecutors, investigators, and other employees, the official said, and it has produced numerous recommendations in the past year.

8. End the High-Income Bush Tax Cuts, Close the Carried-Interest Loophole, and End Oil Incentives. Obama in 2010: "[A]t 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." Did it happen? No. Obama and Republicans agreed to a fiscal-cliff deal that allowed taxes to expire on married couples making over $450,000, not $250,000. They did not eliminate the "carried interest loophole" that allows hedge-fund managers to claim their pay as investment income, nor did they end domestic-production credits or other corporate tax incentives that help oil companies.

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