Countdown to State of the Union--2009: Big Promises for Big Government

In 2009, President Barack Obama addressed both houses of Congress in the midst of the worst of the recession, and delivered what was then one of the most ideological, left-wing addresses by a president in American history. (He has since surpassed that with his second inaugural address). The president promised that we would “emerge stronger than before.” If so, looking back, we did not do so by the end of his first term.

Obama took aim at his predecessors, telling America that they had not previously met their economic and social responsibilities. He would, Obama promised, address that failure, starting with job creation. He promised that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (i.e. the stimulus) would “save or create” create 3.5 million jobs in two years, more than 90 percent of which (i.e. 3.15 million) would be in the private sector, he said. 

In fact, the private sector went on to lose 1.4 million jobs over the next two years. As Obama would later admit, many of the so-called “shovel-ready” stimulus projects simply weren’t. The president went on to attack the idea that government has “no role” to play in the economy, pledging to “invest”in “energy, health care, and education” while at the same time “cut[ting] back on programs we don’t need,” though he did not mention any.

Among other promises, Obama pledged to “double this nation's supply of renewable energy in the next three years.” (In fact, it rose by just over 10%.) He promised to pass health reform that would be “paid for” and would reduce the deficit. (Today, the costs of Obamacare continue to rise past estimates.) And he “pledged to cut the deficit in half by the end of my first term in office). In reality, he has run deficits over $1 trillion each year.


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