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President Obama's Top 10 Broken Promises

Smiling Obama
Who wouldn't trust that smile?

Running for political office is like trying to court a hot woman at a bar. You'll say just about anything to get into her pants, and if you succeed, she'll discover the next morning that you really aren't single, nor are you a doctor, and you definitely weren't interested in hanging around for more than a few hours. Like her, the people who elect politicians on the weight of their campaign promises usually start to feel dirty and degraded when everything is said and done, because once they've gotten your vote, politicians really don't give a crap about you, your dreams, your family, or the fact that you think Bad Religion is the best and most misunderstood band of all time. It's sad, but it's true.

Our current president made huge promises to be a different type of president, a fully transparent, post-racial instrument of change who would respect and consider all viewpoints before making any big decisions. Those gullible enough to believe him but not gullible enough to be blind to reality are now pretty upset, which is why the Democrats are in such dire straits this election season. Perhaps this is why his broken promises are so glaring, though when it comes to the highest office in the land, broken promises tend to be legion. You never know when one specific broken promise, like President George H. W. Bush's much-touted promise of "no new taxes," will cost the president everything, or when the people will finally cry "enough" and decide to elect somebody else whose promises of change are more convincing than the last guy's.

This list chronicles President Obama's top 10 whoppers. Though I could easily list general promises--like his repeated promises to be more transparent or usher in a post-racial era--these promises are very specific, can easily be documented, and have clearly been broken. To be fair, there is a slight chance that one or two of these promises could yet be kept, but all indications suggest otherwise. This is not meant to be a complete list, and different people are bound to find other broken promises more upsetting than the ones listed here. These are the ones that should make anyone who voted for Obama feel used, abused, and hungover in a motel room with unmentionable stains in embarrassing places and a video rapidly making its way to the darkest recesses of the Internet.

Comprehensive Cancer Study

Obama and Kathleen Sebelius
Obama and Kathleen Sebelius, not pointing in the same direction

The promise: "As president, Barack Obama will immediately direct his Secretary of Health and Human Services, in collaboration with agency officials, academic researchers, cancer survivors and advocates for people with cancer, and state public health officials, to comprehensively examine the various cancer-related efforts of federal agencies, and provide recommendations to eliminate barriers to effective coordination across federal agencies and between the federal government and other stakeholders." [SOURCE]

The reality: It has been nearly two years since President Obama took office, and as of now, there is no evidence that he has started a comprehensive cancer study with his Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius. Since the promise was for something to be done "immediately," I think this can safely be called a broken promise.

No Income Tax for Low-Income Seniors

Poor Senior Citizen
Still paying income tax

The promise: President Obama "will eliminate all income taxation of seniors making less than $50,000 per year. This will eliminate taxes for 7 million seniors -- saving them an average of $1,400 a year-- and will also mean that 27 million seniors will not need to file an income tax return at all." [SOURCE]

The reality: As of now, seniors who make less than $50,000 a year still have to pay income taxes, and there is nothing on the books about this changing any time soon. Whenever President Obama brings up taxes and his plans to reform them, he conveniently forgets to mention this particular pledge.

Equality for Same-Sex Couples

Same-Sex Family
Waiting for the bully pulpit speeches

The promise: "As your President, I will use the bully pulpit to urge states to treat same-sex couples with full equality in their family and adoption laws." [SOURCE]

The reality: There have been plenty of opportunities for President Obama to "urge states to treat same-sex couples with full equality," as in the recent rulings on California's same-sex marriage law. However, Obama has been largely silent on this issue, only talking about it when talking to lobby groups that already support same-sex equality. It doesn't seem like President Obama is interested in spending any political capital on fighting for same-sex couples (though, in fairness, he has brought the issue of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" into the forefront), much less using "the bully pulpit" for it.

Transparent Healthcare Negotiations

The Healthcare Summit
Not pictured: doctors, nurses, hospital administrators, insurance companies, drug companies, etc.

The promise: "We'll have doctors and nurses and hospital administrators--insurance companies, drug companies, they'll get a seat at the table, they just won't be able to buy every chair--but what we will do is, we'll have the negotiations televised on C-SPAN, so that people can see who is making arguments on behalf of their constituents and who are making arguments on behalf of the drug companies or the insurance companies." [SOURCE: Townhall meeting in Chester, Va, on August 21, 2008]

The reality: In regards to the healthcare bill, President Obama held various backroom meetings that were not televised in order to get the bill passed. For the few meetings that were televised, like the infamous day-long bipartisan healthcare summit, the only people who were given seats were politicians. There were no doctors (aside from the politicians who were doctors) or nurses or hospital administrators or representatives from insurance or drug companies. Obama wanted to keep "the people" involved in "the process," but when negotiations were taking place concerning the passage of the healthcare bill, it was the people who were left almost entirely in the dark.

Five Days for Public Review and Comment

Obama Signing
Waiting five days and listening to people is just too hard!

The promise: "As president, Obama will not sign any non-emergency bill without giving the American public an opportunity to review and comment on the White House website for five days." [SOURCE]

The reality: This promise is broken so often, it would be ridiculously taxing to list every infraction. Needless to say, hundreds of bills--including the healthcare bill and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act (the first bill the president ever signed)--were signed by the president well before the public had five days to read and comment on them. Most of these bills were non-emergency, by the way, because they didn't go into immediate effect. While defenders could argue that many of the president's broken promises were broken because he didn't have the power to keep them, this is a promise that President Obama had 100% complete control over and still failed to keep it.

Space Promises

Constellation: The Next Leap has Begun
...and promptly aborted

The promises: President Obama will re-establish the National Aeronautics and Space Council (a.k.a. the National Space Council), which "will oversee and coordinate civilian, military, commercial and national security space activities. It will solicit public participation, engage the international community, and work toward a 21st century vision of space that constantly pushes the envelope on new technologies as it pursues a balanced national portfolio that expands our reach into the heavens and improves life here on Earth." Additionally, President Obama will "endorse the goal of sending human missions to the Moon by 2020, as a precursor in an orderly progression to missions to more distant destinations, including Mars." [SOURCE]

The reality: President Obama has cancelled the Constellation Program, which was tasked with sending humans to the moon by 2020. He has also publically stated that he would rather devote resources to sending robotic scout missions into space or towards asteroids, rather than continuing NASA's mandate to reach the moon and Mars. On top of that, the Obama administration has made no progress or announcements concerning the re-establishment of the National Space Council, and many experts believe that the administration's continued silence on the issue is evidence that it has no interest in it.

Prescription Drug Importation

Rx Meds Canada
Canadian prescriptions: cheaper and competitive, just as effective, and completely illegal in the U.S.

The promise: President Obama's healthcare plan will "allow Americans to buy their medicines from other developed countries if the drugs are safe and prices are lower outside the U.S." [SOURCE]

The reality: Despite the passage of the healthcare bill, it is still illegal to import prescription drugs from other countries, and there are no legal provisions in place to change that in the foreseeable future.

Earmark Reduction

Creepy smiling pig
Smile and prepare to have your ear marked

The promise: "Barack Obama is committed to returning earmarks to less than $7.8 billion a year, the level they were at before 1994." [SOURCE]

The reality: My first inclination is to just put "LOL" here, but let's look at the numbers. In the fiscal year 2010, appropriations bills contained nearly 10,000 earmarks totalling $15.9 billion, which is higher than 2009 and more than twice the dollar amount of earmarks in 1994 [SOURCE]. So yeah, not only was this promise broken, it has been shattered, stepped on, and thrown in the incinerator.

Immigration Bill within One Year

Please don't hit the immigrants

The promise: "What I can guarantee is that we will have in the first year an immigration bill that I strongly support and that I'm promoting and that I want to move that forward as quickly as possible." [SOURCE]

The reality: President Obama has been in office for almost two years, and there is still no immigration bill that he strongly supports and is promoting.

No New Taxes

Read My Lips
I could swear I've heard this before...

The promise: "I can make a firm pledge. Under my plan, no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase. Not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes." [SOURCE]

The reality: While President Obama has been in office, federal taxes have gone up on cigarettes and indoor tanning salons. And, in 2014, thanks to the new healthcare laws, if you don't want to buy government-mandated health insurance, you will be fined by the government. These are all taxes that can and do affect people who make less than $250,000 a year. Of course, maybe smokers, tanners, and people who don't want health insurance are less than human.

-e. magill 10/05/2010

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