Obama's Sputtering "Sputnik Moment": Last Year's SOTU Promises Mostly Unfulfilled (Thank God For Small Favors)


On the eve of President Obama's latest State of the Union address (SOTU), the Wash Post remembers all of yesterday's promises in last year's ridiculous ode to the need for our very own "Sputnik Moment":

Among the initiatives Obama promoted then that have yet to come to fruition a year later: eliminating subsidies to oil companies; replacing No Child Left Behind with a better education law; making a tuition tax credit permanent; rewriting immigration laws; and reforming the tax system.

The list of what he succeeded in accomplishing is considerably shorter, including: securing congressional approval of a South Korea free trade deal; signing legislation to undo a burdensome tax reporting requirement in his health care law; and establishing a website to show taxpayers where their tax dollars go.

One of Obama's pledges from last January's speech — to undertake a reorganization of the federal government — he got around to rolling out only this month. And other promises are vaguer or more long term, such as declaring a "Sputnik moment" for today's generation and calling for renewed commitments to research and development and clean energy technology; pushing to prepare more educators to teach science, technology and math; promoting high-speed rail and accessible broadband; and seeking greater investments in infrastructure.

With the exception of ending subsidies to oil companies, we can breathe easier that the president failed in his quest to, say, turn Solyndra-style subsidies into the equivalent of the Cold War frenzy stoked by the launch of Sputnik. For instance: Does anyone believe that Obama, the Dems more broadly, and the Republicans would actually craft a "better education law" than the expensive and demonstrably useless No Child Left Behind law? Only if they scrapped the federal Department of Education, which has had zero effect on the scores of high-school seniors since coming online in the early 1980s (under Ronald Reagan, who had once promised to kill the department created in the very late Carter years)? Do you trust Obama - who has deported record number of immigrants during his years in power? - to craft immigration laws that would either be humane or workable? Surely it says something that one of his accomplishments in the past 12 months has been the undoing of a rule that he implemented via his own disastrous health care reform package (whose negative impacts on the economy are not yet fully cacluable).

Whole Post story here.

Matt Welch's great take on Obama's Sputnik talk from the February 2012 issue of Reason.

Return to the thrilling SOTU speech of yesteryear with Reason's live staff blog coverage.

A couple years back, Reason.tv took a short look at the "Doublethink Doubletalk" in Obama's 2010 SOTU. Yes, all these claims were in the same speech: