An In-Depth Look at President Obama’s Record on Campaign Promises

The list goes on and on...

As the much-awaited presidential election season opens now that the challenger to President Barack Obama’s throne have been set, Common Sense Conspiracy wants to take a moment to look back at President Obama’s first term and how he fared on some of his campaign promises back in 2008.  We would like to give a general disclaimer that the CSC does not advocate any candidate officially, and this is not an attempt to tear down the current administration’s accomplishments.  All we are trying to do is give our readers a factual account of what has been done versus what the administration promised to do.  As you might expect, this won’t be extremely flattering to Obama and company, but we would like to point out that you could do this same exercise with virtually any president in the past.  This is only a look at what happened and should not be taken as an endorsement of any candidate or political party or affiliation.  So, without further ado, let’s take a look at some of the things President Obama pledged to get done when he was campaigning back in 2008.

  1. Cancer Research Funding — Back in 2007, Barack Obama pledged that he would find a way to double federal funding for cancer research, touting it as a movement towards finding a cure.  As of 2011, cancer research institutions said that they had received small increases, but nothing approaching the doubling that Obama brought to the table during his campaign.  So, for the record, he did get some work done in this area, but his boast of doubling the funding fell short.  Unfortunately, that means a promise broken.
  2. Increase Taxes on Capital Gains and Dividends for Those with Higher Incomes — Obama planned to take more from the 15 to 20 percent of Americans making more than $250,000 per year (that’s for a married couple) by increasing capital gains and dividends taxes.  He was not able to accomplish this in any way, shape or form.  Of course, the Republican Party famously opposes higher taxes on the wealthy, so it’s easy to see why he couldn’t get this one through.  However, it’s still a broken promise at the end of the day.  Candidates should be more mindful of what they can actually accomplish rather than what sounds good when it is coming out of their mouth.
  3. Foreclosure Prevention — Obama promised to establish a $10 billion fund to help prevent foreclosures for homeowners.  The fund was to be setup to only help those in true need and not to be used for those that bought overly extravagant homes or vacation homes.  At first, it appeared that Obama had more than made good on this one.  He actually upped the ante and got a fund totaling over $75 billion in place.  He touted it as a major victory and boasted that it would help over 9,000,000 Americans.  But in 2011, only 500,000 people reported any true help through the fund’s promises.  Where all the money went is a matter of great debate, and as many things with the government, you can spend hours researching it only to find that no one really knows.  So, technically, his promise was kept, but the results of the fund have not been stellar.
  4. No Income Taxes for Senior Citizens Making Less Than $50,000 per Year — Obama campaigned on an idea that he would end income tax for any senior making less than $50,000 and boasted that over 27 million senior citizens would not even be required to file a tax return at all, putting thousands back in their pockets and hopefully invested in their retirement plans.  The idea, good or bad, never made it past the campaign trail.  No legislation or tax code edit was even introduced regarding this, although a stimulus action did give all those receiving Social Security benefits a lousy $250 check.  Promise broken.
  5. Require Employers to Offer 401k Plans in Some Capacity — Obama promised to introduce legislation that would require all companies to provide employees with some sort of 401k plan, or at least access to an IRA with automatic enrollment.  The plan was on the table but got swept up in the health care debate.  He also wanted to make it mandatory for all employees of companies with a plan to enroll to increase retirement savings across the board.  Now both seem to be permanently on hold.
  6. Raise the Minimum Wage to $9.50 — Obama pledged to help families by raising the minimum wage in America to $9.50.  This never happened, and no one thinks it is likely to happen anytime soon.  It should be noted that Republicans heavily oppose minimum wage increases in general, making it a difficult political climate for Obama to propose such a change, but once again, why promise something you know you can’t make happen?
  7. No Tax Increase for Families Making $250,000 or Less — This one is debated.  Obama promised that no family with an income of $250,000 or less would get a tax increase of any kind during his presidency.  Technically, that was correct, but many cried foul that he broke this promise when he introduced increased insurance rates on smokers and those that like to use tanning beds.  While this was not a tax per se, many considered it to be the equivalent.  However, since it did not affect anyone and was not a true tax code addition, we give Obama the thumbs up on a promise fulfilled.
  8. Complete Immigration Reform in First Year in Office — Obama was quoted as saying that he couldn’t guarantee that he could get it done within 100 days, but within a year, he would get a comprehensive bill passed regarding immigration.  As you might recall, immigration and border control was a major issue during the 2008 campaign season.  While it is still an issue, it is not nearly as prominent in the media now as it was then.  Likewise, Obama’s promise got swept under the rug and hardly anyone remembers what he said.
  9. Closing Guantanamo Bay for Good— Now we get to one of the bigger ones that is bound to be brought up relentlessly during the smear-campaign that will take place between Obama and Republican challenger Mitt
    Still going strong in 2012...

    Romney.  Obama pledged to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility down once and for all.  This, of course, did not happen.  What he did do was alter the policies of the facility.  Now, people held there have more periodic reviews on their incarceration and cannot just be held indefinitely without anything happening.  However, military tribunals continue to be the way justice is handed out.  Sometimes a presidential candidate makes promises that he just can’t keep.  Quite likely, when Obama actually became President, he was probably immediately given the real details behind the controversial facility and told in no uncertain terms that it would not be closing down.  He made no real attempt at it, but probably passed a few laws changing its policies to try to offset those that would bring up this broken promise.

We could go on for fifty more of these, but we chose some of the more prominent or interesting ones.  If you like to hear about it, we can continue.  Just drop us a line via email or a comment here and we can soon present round two of this examination of President Obama’s performance.  Thanks for reading.