In the Shadows of Promise: Evaluating Obama's Campaign Pledges

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President Barack Obama took office with an extraordinary set of promises as a candidate. He has fulfilled many of the promises to the left-wing base of his party, such as his executive order three days after he was inaugurated restoring the funding of abortions with foreign-aid money. But how has he done with the popular campaign promises he made to middle American the promises that got him elected'? Candidate Obama pledged to cut taxes for the middle class, lower overall taxes, cut government spending, reduce the deficit, cut the cost of healthcare waste, eliminate most government secrecy, and reform ethics at the White House. Here is a review of these domestic policy promises in the categories of ethics, transparency in government, and fiscal responsibility, along with an assessment of how earnestly they were carried out.


No Lobbyists Funding His Campaign

Promise: "I have done more than any other candidate in this race to take on lobbyists--and won. They have not funded my campaign." (Barack Obama, Speech in Des Moines, Iowa, November 10, 2007)

Track Record: The independent watchdog group found that lobbyists had funded Obama's Senate campaign, as well as his presidential campaign from the beginning. By the time Obama had made the statement above, it was already false. Public Citizen had already listed nine different lobbyists who had contributed to the Obama campaign, in addition to "bundling" individual contributions averaging more than $100,000 each to Obama's presidential campaign during 2007. During the 2008 campaign, Obama accepted bundled contributions of nearly one million dollars ($997,095) from Goldman Sachs executives, the same firm that received tens of billions in bailout funds through the TARP legislation Obama backed in September 2008.

Obama later backtracked, claiming that lobbyists who funded him didn't impact his decisions. Of course, this is the same claim all politicians who take money from lobbyists make.

Verdict: Outright Lie

No More Executive Branch Electioneering

Promise: "Remove the use of public office for partisan advantage: Public office should not be used to advance political interests. Too often federal workers dismiss the law that governs political activity, both because of political incentives not to use it and because of inadequate enforcement mechanisms. As president, Barack Obama will issue an Executive Order banning the use of public office to further partisan advantage in political elections." ("Taking Back Our Government" pamphlet on


Track Record: Obama issued an "ethics" executive order, but it omitted mention of banning use of the executive branch for partisan purposes. Partisan use of public office begins at the top in the Obama White House. Obama orchestrated a partisan political pressure maneuver using his cabinet secretaries on July 13, getting four cabinet secretaries to write on government stationery to Arizona Governor Janice Brewer to pressure Republican Arizona Senator Jon Kyl to stop criticizing Obama's "stimulus" law. Kyl had suggested on nationwide television days earlier that the "stimulus" bill didn't work and that all uncommitted projects from the "stimulus" bill ought to be stopped in order to prevent increasing the deficit further. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood sarcastically wrote to Brewer, "If you prefer to forfeit the money we are making available to your state, as Senator Kyl suggests, please let me know." Interior Secretary Ken Salazar wrote an almost identical line, except he omitted Kyl's name: "If you prefer to forfeit the money we are making available to Arizona, please let me know." Agriculture Secretary Vilsack and HUD Secretary Donovan also wrote letters to Brewer. "It was a thinly veiled threat," Kyl told Fox News' Greta Van Susteren. "And they combined that with some ads that the Democrat campaign committee ran on their website, and so on. …