President Obama has taken to claiming at recent political rallies and fundraisers that he has fulfilled 60 percent of his campaign promises from 2008, but the scorecard of an independent arbiter suggests that Mr. Obama is grading himself on a generous curve.
The watchdog organization PolitiFact.com, which evaluates the veracity of politicians’ statements, has tracked 506 specific promises Mr. Obama made during his victorious presidential campaign three years ago and concluded that he has fulfilled 151, or 30 percent. Add the campaign pledges on which Mr. Obama has compromised to get part of what he wanted, and his “mission accomplished” tally still rises to just 39 percent.
Nonetheless, the president is telling supporters that he has worked three-fifths of the way through a checklist of initiatives that he keeps in his desk, making the pitch that he needs to be re-elected to finish what he started.
“We’re through about 60 percent of [the list], which isn’t bad for three years,” Mr. Obama told a crowd at a fundraiser in Denver on Tuesday night. “So we know change is possible. But here’s the thing. There are a lot of people who are still hurting, and there’s still a lot more work to do. And so that other 40 percent that is not done, I’m going to need you because I need five more years. I need five more years to get it done.”
Among the major items on the president’s “still-to-do” list is immigration reform.
On the stump, Mr. Obama regularly blames congressional Republicans for the lack of progress on overhauling the nation’s system, but there is evidence that Hispanics are holding it against the president, too. He hasn’t introduced a comprehensive plan, and a recent Gallup poll showed Mr. Obama with a 49 percent job-approval rating among Hispanics — down from 60 percent at the beginning of the year.
In 2008, Mr. Obama won 67 percent of the Hispanic vote, which is crucial in swing states such as Nevada, Florida and Colorado. The weak economy also has hit especially hard in the Hispanic community, with unemployment at about 11 percent, above the national average of 9.1 percent.
Among the other unfulfilled campaign promises on PolitiFact’s “Obameter” are putting an end to George W. Bush-era tax cuts for wealthy Americans (Mr. Obama extended them for two years in a deal with the GOP, while pushing to end them when the current agreement expires); passing so-called “card-check” legislation designed to make it easier for labor unions to organize a workplace; and closing the Guantanamo Bay prison for terrorist detainees in Cuba, which he ordered as soon as he took office in January 2009.
The president is touting promises kept such as enacting a universal health care law in 2010, ending the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on gay service members, and wrapping up the American military mission in Iraq with his announcement last week that he will withdraw all U.S. forces by the end of this year.
The Republican National Committee has its own list, of course, titled “Obama’s Top Ten Broken Promises.” They include reducing the deficit and federal debt; allowing Americans to keep health care plans that they like; holding unemployment below 8 percent with the 2009 stimulus bill; and saving millions of homeowners from foreclosure with his housing relief plans.
In his recent pitch across the country for his jobs plan, Mr. Obama has been promising that the package will create nearly 2 million jobs. He says that is not just his estimate, but the findings of “independent economists.”
Well, not quite. Only one economist, Mark Zandi of Moody’s, has said the plan should create about 1.9 million jobs. Another economist pegged it at 1.3 million.
Bloomberg News surveyed 34 economists on the impact of the president’s plan. The median estimate: 275,000 jobs next year and 13,000 jobs in 2013, for a total of 288,000 jobs.
The PolitiFact list of 506 promises includes pledges large and small.
In recent days, the group has given Mr. Obama marks for keeping a promise to overhaul the No Child Left Behind federal education law and for setting up a “consumer-friendly” credit-card-rating system. But Mr. Obama has fallen short on other agenda items, including promises to double federal funding for cancer research and mandating employers to provide seven paid sick days per year.