President Obama's Key Promises, One Year Later

A look at where things stand on the pledges Obama made a year ago.

January 18, 2010, 5:09 PM

Jan. 19, 2010— -- Nearly a year since President Obama took office, his plate is stacked high with a variety of domestic and international issues -- the economy, health care, two wars and national security, to name just a few.

The president recognized these challenges when he took office last January, but he also quickly pushed many agenda items in what some at the time called too hurried a move.

Obama swiftly pushed Congress to pass a $787 billion stimulus program to boost employment. He began removing combat troops from Iraq while upping the number of forces in Afghanistan. He made health care a key priority.

When asked about his job performance, Obama said in an interview with People Magazine last week that he is "pretty good" at his job. In an interview with Oprah last month, the president gave himself a "good, solid B-plus" for his performance.

But a year into his term, Americans' confidence in Obama is shrinking and more feel negatively about the country's direction, according to the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll. Fifty-three percent of those polled approved of the job Obama is doing, considerably lower than the 68 percent job approval rating he enjoyed right after taking office. Sixty-two percent of Americans now say the country's on the wrong track, the most in 11 months.

Obama acknowledged those concerns, telling People, "They have every right to feel deflated because the economy was far worse than any of us expected."

The president also admitted that he has not been able to bring people together as he had promised in the 2008 presidential campaign. The president vowed to promote bipartisanship, but Republican support has been missing on nearly every major issue he has pushed, including stimulus, climate change and health care.

"What I haven't been able to do in the midst of this crisis is bring the country together in a way that we had done in the Inauguration. That's what's been lost this year... that whole sense of changing how Washington works," Obama said.

Politifact, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Web site from the St. Petersburg Times, conducted a tally of all the promises Obama made a year ago and in his campaign. Of 502 specific campaign promises they gathered, Obama has fulfilled 91, can claim partial success on 33, has broken 14 and is stalled on 87. About 275 of his promises are still in the works.

Unlike some of his predecessors, Obama had been very specific on his promises, even setting a timeline for some.

Here is a look at some of the key promises he made and where things stand on those:

As a candidate, Obama was open about his desire to close the detainee center at Guantanamo Bay, saying it served as a "recruiting tool" for U.S. enemies. Just weeks after moving into the White House, Obama signed an executive order to shut down the detainee center and ordered it closed within a year. All the detainees under his transfer would either be transferred to U.S. prisons or overseas.

"It will ultimately make us safer," Obama said in an interview with NBC last February. "You've already seen, in the reaction around the world, a different sense of America by us taking this action."

Obama's Promises After Year One

Now, nearly a year since Obama signed that order, Gitmo remains open, although several detainees have been moved overseas, freed or sent to U.S. prisons. The remaining will be sent to the Thomson Correctional Center in Illinois, much to the chagrin of most Republicans and some Democrats, although a date for the final transfer has not yet been set and it is unclear how long it will really take to close the center.

Since the botched terror attempt on Christmas day, Republicans have upped their objections to such a move, saying it would compromise national security.

As a presidential candidate and soon after taking office, Obama vowed to implement a timeframe for ending the war in Iraq and bringing back U.S. troops.

"I think that we have a sense, now that Iraq has just had a very significant election with no significant violence, that we are in a position to start putting more responsibility on the Iraqis," Obama said in the February interview with NBC. "And that's good news for -- not only the troops in the field but their families who are carrying an enormous burden."

In his campaign, Obama also pledged repeatedly to send more troops to Afghanistan to focus on the war there.

On both fronts, the president has made good on that pledge. He has significantly upped the number of troops in Afghanistan while pulling combat troops out of Iraq.

But at the same time, the president -- as he has done in several other cases -- set a time frame for withdrawal.

"Let me say this as plainly as I can: by August 31, 2010, our combat mission in Iraq will end," Obama said at a speech in Camp Lejune in February. "Through this period of transition, we will carry out further redeployments. And under the Status of Forces Agreement with the Iraqi government, I intend to remove all U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of 2011."

Whether that happens or not remains to be seen.

In Afghanistan, the president has ordered an additional 30,000 troops be sent, not just to combat the Taliban, but also to train the Afghan national army and local security forces.

Obama told the nation last month that troops would begin transitioning out of Afghanistan by July 2011, a pledge that caused firestorm among Republicans. Administration officials later clarified that the time frame is not set in stone, and withdrawal will be based on conditions on the ground.

Rules on Lobbyists

Candidate Obama pledged that no lobbyists would work in his White House. As a newly-arrived president, he reiterated that promise.

Announcing "firm rules of the road for my administration and all who serve in it" in January 2009, the president said, "We need to close the revolving door that lets lobbyists come into government freely and lets them use their time in public service as a way to promote their own interests over the interests of the American people when they leave."

Obama's Promises After Year One

Obama's executive order mandated that lobbyists who became members of the administration will not be able to work on matters they lobbied on for two years, or in the agencies they lobbied during the previous two years. Anyone who leaves the Obama administration will not be able to lobby his administration.

But there have been notable exceptions to that rule.

Obama waived it for Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn, who was a registered lobbyist for the defense contractor Raytheon before being appointed in January.

"I have determined that it is in the public interest to grant the waiver given Mr. Lynn's qualifications for his position and the current national security situation," Director of the Office of Management of Budget Peter Orszag said in a statement at the time.

There are several other lobbyists also serving in the Obama administration, including Ron Kirk, U.S. Trade Representative; Cecilia Munoz, Director of Intergovernmental Affairs at the White House; and Jocelyn Frye, who is now director of policy and projects in the Office of the First Lady.

The president has made health care overhaul a central feature of his domestic policy, despite Republicans who say he needs to focus more on the economy.

As a candidate Obama promised he would pay for health care overhaul by reducing tax breaks for those who make more than $250,000 and keeping the estate tax. He has kept the first part of the bargain by letting Bush administration tax breaks expire, hence raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans. But where the taxes are concentrated will ultimately depend on which version of the health care bill Congress passes.

Obama also promised the creation of a health insurance exchange where uninsured Americans and business owners can shop for coverage. That plan is included in both the House and Senate versions.

Obama's Promises After Year One

But other promises on health care haven't gone quite as promised. For example, Obama campaigned against individual health insurance mandates, but both versions currently include that. His promise of a public option, a government-run insurance plan that would compete with private insurers, also died in the Senate bill and it is unclear whether it will be included at all in the final legislation.

Obama's plan to allow lower-cost drug imports into the United States was also defeated.

It remains to be seen what the final version looks like. But the president has said repeatedly that even though health care overhaul may not be everything he wanted, it is a start.

Much to the chagrin of many civil rights and Hispanic groups, immigration reform has been put on the back burner.

Obama promised as a candidate to provide a way for undocumented immigrants to become part of the U.S. system, but little or no movement has happened on that front.

In a February interview with Eddie "Piolín" Sotelo, the nation's most popular Spanish-language radio host, Mr. Obama said, "we're going to be convening leadership on this issue so that we can start getting that legislation drawn up over the next several months."

"We've got to have comprehensive immigration reform," he said. " Now, you know, we need to get started working on it now. It's going to take some time to move that forward, but I'm very committed to making it happen."

But by the middle of 2009, despite meetings with the Hispanic congressional caucus and others active on the issue, Obama conceded there was little progress.

"There is not by any means consensus across the table," the president told reporters in June.

Officials at the time said the president would like to see an immigration reform bill pass by the end of 2009 or early 2010, but between health care and the economy, there is little sign that will happen.

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