As Barack Obama assumed the presidency in 2008, he believed he was elected with a strong mandate for change. In the past 10 months, however, he learned that the American people were not ready for his sort of change. From January to October, Obama's job approval rating had dropped from 62% to 48%. Similarly, Obama's approval index dropped from 23 points to -10 by October. As Obama's popularity began dropping, he learned it was the American people that were getting in his way.
After Obama's inauguration, 61% of Americans wanted some sort health care reform. This month, however, polling data shows that the American people had changed their minds with just 42% of people wanting the Democrat's version of reform.
What happened to Obama's ratings? And why can't Democrats, who completely control the legislative and executive branches of our government, pass a health care reform bill? The answer, many believe, is that Obama broke too many campaign promises ruining his credibility to deliver.
1. During Obama's presidential campaign, he promised more transparency in the government. He promised he would not sign bills into law without at least five days of public viewing. On May 26th, Obama gave the public just two days to view the Credit Card Accountability and Responsibility Act.
2. Promising more transparency, Obama said his government would conduct health reform negotiations on C-SPAN so the American people can see what their choices were. However, most negotiations on health care reform have been behind closed doors, including major agreements with drug companies and hospitals.
3. Obama promised that no former lobbyists would serve in his administration. This was meant to show that his policy decisions could not be bought by special interest groups. However, the Obama Administration has allowed three former lobbyists to work for the executive branch, which include William Lynn (Defense Contractor Lobbyist), Jocelyn Frye (Lobbyist for National Partnership for Women and Families), and Cecilia Munoz (Lobbyist for the National Council of La Raza).
4. Obama promised that he would reward companies that create jobs with a $3,000 tax credit per new hire during the 2009-2010 period. However, the stimulus package did not contain any such rewards, and there is no push by the White House to implement it any time soon.
5. Obama promised that he would eliminate the capitial gains tax on investments in small and start-up firms (small businesses). The stimulus package reduced captial gains tax, but did not eliminate them as promised.
6. Obama promised to go "line by line" over earmarks to make sure money was being wisely spent. However, the stimulus package contained over 9,000 earmarks.
7. Obama promised that no family making less than $250,ooo a year will see "any form of tax increase." Congress, however, passed a cigarette tax that affects smokers making less than $250,000 a year. And more importantly, the current health care reform bill sitting before Congress will force everyone, including newborn babies, to have health care insurance. This will require a tax increase for earners that make less than $250,ooo per year.
8. How about immigration reform? Obama said that immigration reform was a top priority. Two months ago, Obama put immigration reform on the back burner behind health care reform, financial regulations, and the cap & trade bill. This last broken promise frustrated local liberal activist group "Voces De La Frontera" inciting the founding executive Christine Neumann-Ortiz to call Obama's lack of action a "betrayal to Latino voters".
President Obama has made at least 515 promises, and has kept only 49. This leaves 466 promises that were either broken, delayed, or not addressed at all. To use scriptural terms, Obama became "all things to all people" during his presidential campaign. Let's just hope that Obama 's legacy will be seen as a promise-keeper, not just a promise maker.