(Reuters) - President Barack Obama has reached the halfway point in his four-year term. As he prepares to deliver the annual State of the Union speech on Tuesday, a tally of Obama campaign promises finds that he has managed to keep many more of these vows than he has broken.
But most of the issues that he vowed to tackle after coming to office in 2009 are still works in progress, like plans to reform U.S. immigration laws and fix the economy.
According to the nonpartisan PolitiFact.com website, which keeps track of his progress with an “Obameter Scorecard,” Obama has kept 134 promises, compromised on 41 and broken 34. Some 221 pledges are “in the works,” the scorecard finds.
The State of the Union gives Obama a chance to lay out a roadmap for the next two years of his presidency. But his ability to deliver on remaining pledges has shrunk following losses by his Democrats in congressional elections.
They lost seats in the Senate and surrendered control of the House of Representatives to Republicans after the November vote. Here are a few of the bigger promises Obama made on the 2008 campaign trail and where he is on fulfilling them:
Obama’s broad electoral promise to put the economy back on a solid footing after the worst recession since the 1930s Great Depression is still a work in progress. U.S. growth has resumed but unemployment, at 9.4 percent in December, is still way too high.
Obama secured a second massive fiscal stimulus when he and Republicans reached a compromise in late December to extend all Bush-era tax cuts for two years.
This kept his vow to extend tax cuts for Americans whom the White house calls the ‘middle class’ - families who earn less than $250,000 a year - at the expense of accepting an extension for wealthier Americans whose taxes he wanted to allow to rise back to pre-Bush levels.
As promised, Obama put in place new financial regulations to stop the excessive risk-taking on Wall Street that helped fuel the 2007-2009 financial crisis blamed for the recession.
But that came at a price. Obama has had rocky relations with the business community, who have complained his new laws raised their costs and hit profits. The administration has begun the new year with fresh outreach efforts to lobby key corporate groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
It went down to the wire, but Obama was able to keep his promise to repeal the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” rule against gays serving openly in the military, signing the repeal on the final day of the congressional session in December.
Obama had promised to make the United States a leader in the fight against global warming. But he failed to get a bill to curb climate change through the Senate despite making an international commitment to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions some 17 percent by 2020 compared with 2005 levels.
Obama has said he would prioritize efforts to revamp U.S. energy policy in 2011, but will face even steeper obstacles with Republicans in control of the House. In particular, a controversial “cap and trade” system to curb carbon emissions, promised as a presidential candidate is dead.
In March, Obama signed into law a landmark bill to revamp the United States’ $2.5 trillion healthcare system. It extends health insurance to 32 million Americans who have none and expands the Medicaid government health insurance program.
But polls show many Americans don’t understand the new law and Republican representatives voted on Wednesday for its repeal, although that is not likely to happen.
Obama pledged to withdraw all combat troops from Iraq within 16 months of taking office. It took him a little longer — the last combat brigade left in August. There are still about 47,000 troops in Iraq, although they have been relabeled as “advisory and assistance” brigades.
Obama also kept his promise to send two new brigades — some 30,000 troops — to Afghanistan as part of a revamped strategy to break the momentum of a resurgent Taliban enemy.
There are now about 97,000 U.S. troops in the country and casualties are on the rise as the military tries to hit Taliban militants harder.
Obama declared last month that enough progress was being made to begin withdrawing troops in July, and transition to full Afghan security control by 2014. But analysts, as well as members of America’s intelligence community, have reservations about the prospects for long-term results.
Opposition in Congress and legal complications have prevented Obama from making good on a promise to close the Guantanamo detention camp for terrorism suspects.
Obama has acknowledged that he has fallen short on that pledge but said he still wants to transfer Guantanamo detainees to prison in the United States.
But political opposition to trials on U.S. soil is stiff and Obama’s goal suffered a setback when he reluctantly signed a defense authorization bill on January 7 that will make it much harder to quickly close the jail.
Obama promised to have an immigration bill in Congress within his first year in office. That has not materialized. Immigration reform has taken a backseat as Obama grapples with other issues, such as healthcare and financial reform.
Many Hispanics are disappointed, but Obama has blamed Republicans, who favor first stepping up efforts to secure the country’s borders, for backing away from reform. A Republican-controlled House would make it harder for Obama to fulfill that promise
Reporting by Alister Bull; Editing by Jackie Frank