Countdown to State of the Union–2010: Stalled Progress, Supreme Court Rebuke

Countdown to State of the Union–2010: Stalled Progress, Supreme Court Rebuke

President Barack Obama began his 2010 State of the Union address by acknowledging that the country was still going through tough economic times. He took credit for cutting taxes “for 95 percent of working families” (in reality, a payroll tax credit that expired in 2011). Despite unemployment near 10%, he took credit for 2 million jobs that he claimed would otherwise have been lost; if true, that statistic referred to public, not private, jobs.

Obama described a number of economic proposals. He described a new lending fund for community banks, which failed by 2011. He lauded the start of a new high-speed rail project in Florida, which was eventually halted by the new governor. He promised that Solyndra would create 1,000 new jobs; it closed the next year. He pledged to double exports in five years; in the years since, exports have risen less than 30%. He also promised to help those struggling with student loans and mortgages; however, student loan delinquency is rising, and mortgage assistance programs were largely ineffective.

The president focused on Obamacare, which had triggered nationwide opposition, and promised it would “preserve the right of Americans who have insurance to keep their doctor and their plan.” (This month, the Congressional Budget Office revealed that 7 million would lose their insurance.) Obama also promised his plan would “bring down premiums, bring down the deficit, cover the uninsured, strengthen Medicare for seniors, and stop insurance company abuses”–almost all of which has turned out to be untrue.

In one of the speech’s most memorable–and alarming–moments, President Obama rebuked the Supreme Court, which was seated in front of him, for their decision in the Citizens United case, charging that it would allow foreign corporations “to spend without limit” in U.S. elections. Justice Samuel Alito quietly mouthed the words: “Not true.”

Obama then attacked the culture of Washington, “where every day is Election Day.” He closed with strong words on foreign policy, pledging to fight Al Qaeda even as the U.S. withdrew from Iraq and Afghanistan. He criticized human rights abuses in Iran, which he was slow to do during protests in 2009, and described nuclear negotiations with Russia.

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