Barack Obama

Obama's 2014 State of the Union Scorecard

The president didn't get much of his wish list last year and he'll get even less this time. That's a good thing.

|

On Tuesday night, January 21, President Barack Obama will deliver his seventh State of the Union address (SOTU). He will offer a laundry list of initiatives that will be familiar to anyone who watched any of his previous speeches.

If you plan on watching, here's a piece of advice from someone who gets paid to pay attention to politicians: Don't bother.

When control in Washington is divided between parties, the president generally doesn't get his wish list fulfilled. That's usually a good thing, by the way.

Last year's SOTU is illustrative (full text here). Here's a roundup what the president proposed last year and what has actually happened.

Obama: "Both Democrats and Republicans have argued that our tax code is riddled with wasteful, complicated loopholes that punish businesses investing here, and reward companies that keep profits abroad. Let's flip that equation. Let's work together to close those loopholes, end those incentives to ship jobs overseas, and lower tax rates for businesses that create jobs here at home."

Result: His plan to make the U.S. even more uncompetitive thankfully went nowhere.

Obama: "My administration has launched two hubs for high-tech manufacturing in Raleigh and Youngstown, where we've connected businesses to research universities that can help America lead the world in advanced technologies. Tonight, I'm announcing we'll launch six more this year. Bipartisan bills in both houses could double the number of these hubs and the jobs they create. So get those bills to my desk and put more Americans back to work."

Result: It doesn't appear that he got all six high-tech hubs, but he obviously isn't giving up on the government planning scheme because a new one was announced in Tennessee last week.

Obama: "We need to work together on tools like bipartisan trade promotion authority to protect our workers, protect our environment, and open new markets to new goods stamped 'Made in the USA.'"

Result: The Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities Act of 2014 was introduced in both houses but didn't go anywhere.

Obama: "And let's pass a patent reform bill that allows our businesses to stay focused on innovation, not costly, needless litigation."

Result: It didn't happen—legislation died in the Senate.

Obama: "Businesses plan to invest almost $100 billion in new factories that use natural gas. I'll cut red tape to help states get those factories built, and this Congress can help by putting people to work building fueling stations that shift more cars and trucks from foreign oil to American natural gas."

Result: He is not interested in cutting red tape.

Obama: "When we rescued our automakers, for example, we worked with them to set higher fuel efficiency standards for our cars. In the coming months, I'll build on that success by setting new standards for our trucks, so we can keep driving down oil imports and what we pay at the pump."

Result: Yep, the administration has been busy at work on that one, as Congress' input isn't required. Too bad for us.

Obama: "Finally, if we are serious about economic growth, it is time to heed the call of business leaders, labor leaders, faith leaders, and law enforcement—and fix our broken immigration system. Republicans and Democrats in the Senate have acted. I know that members of both parties in the House want to do the same. … So let's get immigration reform done this year."

Result: That didn't happen either. Instead, the president unilaterally gave legal status and work permits to millions of people residing in the U.S. illegally because Congress wouldn't act on comprehensive reform.

Obama: "I've asked Vice President Biden to lead an across-the-board reform of America's training programs to make sure they have one mission: train Americans with the skills employers need, and match them to good jobs that need to be filled right now. That means more on-the-job training, and more apprenticeships that set a young worker on an upward trajectory for life. It means connecting companies to community colleges that can help design training to fill their specific needs. And if Congress wants to help, you can concentrate funding on proven programs that connect more ready-to-work Americans with ready-to-be-filled jobs."

Result: Yes, he got that one because both Republicans and Democrats love failed federal job training programs.

Obama: "I'm also convinced we can help Americans return to the workforce faster by reforming unemployment insurance so that it's more effective in today's economy. But first, this Congress needs to restore the unemployment insurance you just let expire for 1.6 million people."

Result: No. The proposal died in the House.

Obama: "Research shows that one of the best investments we can make in a child's life is high-quality early education. Last year, I asked this Congress to help states make high-quality pre-k available to every four-year-old. As a parent as well as a president, I repeat that request tonight. … And as Congress decides what it's going to do, I'm going to pull together a coalition of elected officials, business leaders, and philanthropists willing to help more kids access the high-quality pre-k they need."

Result: It didn't happen, which is good since federally-funded universal pre-kindergarten would be terrible.

Obama: "Today, women make up about half our workforce. But they still make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. That is wrong, and in 2014, it's an embarrassment. A woman deserves equal pay for equal work. … It's time to do away with workplace policies that belong in a Mad Men episode. This year, let's all come together—Congress, the White House, and businesses from Wall Street to Main Street—to give every woman the opportunity she deserves. Because I firmly believe when women succeed, America succeeds."

Result: The so-called Paycheck Fairness Act didn't make it out of Congress, which is good, as it would address a phony problem and increase the cost of employing women.

Obama: "In the coming weeks, I will issue an Executive Order requiring federal contractors to pay their federally-funded employees a fair wage of at least $10.10 an hour—because if you cook our troops' meals or wash their dishes, you shouldn't have to live in poverty."

Result: Yes, once again, he got this one because he didn't have to go through Congress.

Obama: "Of course, to reach millions more, Congress needs to get on board. Today, the federal minimum wage is worth about 20 percent less than it was when Ronald Reagan first stood here. Tom Harkin and George Miller have a bill to fix that by lifting the minimum wage to $10.10. This will help families. It will give businesses customers with more money to spend. It doesn't involve any new bureaucratic program. So join the rest of the country. Say yes. Give America a raise."

Result: Thankfully, congressional Republicans said "no."

Obama: There are other steps we can take to help families make ends meet, and few are more effective at reducing inequality and helping families pull themselves up through hard work than the Earned Income Tax Credit. Right now, it helps about half of all parents at some point. But I agree with Republicans like Senator Rubio that it doesn't do enough for single workers who don't have kids. So let's work together to strengthen the credit, reward work, and help more Americans get ahead.

Result: The EITC was not permanently extended, but it still exists and will continue to waste almost a quarter of its funds on improper payments.

Obama: "I will direct the Treasury to create a new way for working Americans to start their own retirement savings: MyRA. It's a new savings bond that encourages folks to build a nest egg. MyRA guarantees a decent return with no risk of losing what you put in."

Result: This is in the process of becoming a yes.

Obama: "Offer every American access to an automatic IRA on the job, so they can save at work just like everyone in this chamber can."

Result: No?but Illinois is going to do it and other states are looking at it.

Obama: "And since the most important investment many families make is their home, send me legislation that protects taxpayers from footing the bill for a housing crisis ever again, and keeps the dream of homeownership alive for future generations of Americans."

Result: No—and his new idea for reducing Federal Housing Administration loan fees puts taxpayers at further risk.

Obama: "Citizenship means standing up for everyone's right to vote. Last year, part of the Voting Rights Act was weakened. But conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats are working together to strengthen it; and the bipartisan commission I appointed last year has offered reforms so that no one has to wait more than a half hour to vote. Let's support these efforts. It should be the power of our vote, not the size of our bank account, that drives our democracy."

Result: No.

Obama: "Citizenship means standing up for the lives that gun violence steals from us each day. I have seen the courage of parents, students, pastors, and police officers all over this country who say "we are not afraid," and I intend to keep trying, with or without Congress, to help stop more tragedies from visiting innocent Americans in our movie theaters, shopping malls, or schools like Sandy Hook."

Result: No federal action.

Obama: "When I took office, nearly 180,000 Americans were serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Today, all our troops are out of Iraq. More than 60,000 of our troops have already come home from Afghanistan. With Afghan forces now in the lead for their own security, our troops have moved to a support role. Together with our allies, we will complete our mission there by the end of this year, and America's longest war will finally be over. After 2014, we will support a unified Afghanistan as it takes responsibility for its own future. If the Afghan government signs a security agreement that we have negotiated, a small force of Americans could remain in Afghanistan with NATO allies to carry out two narrow missions: training and assisting Afghan forces, and counterterrorism operations to pursue any remnants of al Qaeda. For while our relationship with Afghanistan will change, one thing will not: our resolve that terrorists do not launch attacks against our country."

Result: I would give this a conditional yes, although it'll be interesting to see if it can be maintained.

Obama: "So, even as we aggressively pursue terrorist networks—through more targeted efforts and by building the capacity of our foreign partners—America must move off a permanent war footing. That's why I've imposed prudent limits on the use of drones—for we will not be safer if people abroad believe we strike within their countries without regard for the consequence. That's why, working with this Congress, I will reform our surveillance programs—because the vital work of our intelligence community depends on public confidence, here and abroad, that the privacy of ordinary people is not being violated. And with the Afghan war ending, this needs to be the year Congress lifts the remaining restrictions on detainee transfers and we close the prison at Guantanamo Bay—because we counter terrorism not just through intelligence and military action, but by remaining true to our Constitutional ideals, and setting an example for the rest of the world."

Result: Yes (targeted efforts— e.g., ISIS) and no (closing Guantanamo). And our privacy is still being violated.

Obama: "The sanctions that we put in place helped make this opportunity possible. But let me be clear: if this Congress sends me a new sanctions bill now that threatens to derail these talks, I will veto it. For the sake of our national security, we must give diplomacy a chance to succeed. If Iran's leaders do not seize this opportunity, then I will be the first to call for more sanctions, and stand ready to exercise all options to make sure Iran does not build a nuclear weapon. But if Iran's leaders do seize the chance, then Iran could take an important step to rejoin the community of nations, and we will have resolved one of the leading security challenges of our time without the risks of war."

Result: The battle with Congress over an Iran sanctions bill is ongoing, but Obama has stuck to his pledge to look for a non-military "solution" to Iran's nuclear ambitions.

The bottom line is that where President Obama has had "success" with his 2014 SOTU proposals, it was mostly in areas where input or approval from Congress wasn't required.

The 2015 SOTU will include many of the same ideas, and the president has already been trotting out the new ones (such as "free" community college) in anticipation of his speech.

At least since 2011, when the GOP took control of the House, Obama has not had many legislative successes. With Republicans now controlling the Senate as well, the odds of him getting anything done through Congress are essentially zero. He will, no doubt, articulate a lengthy wish list, but the only items that will become reality are the ones that he can accomplish unilaterally.

A president who can't really do much—and who threatens to veto congressional legislation? To the extent that all reduces the reach of the government into yet more aspects of our lives, that's not a bad outcome at all.

Advertisement

NEXT: Censorship envy

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Free Community College
    Paid Sick Leave

    Those 2 are easy. What else?

      1. Yeah, it’s also about time for Net Neutrality to rear its godforsaken head again.

    1. Immigration reform.
      GOP Obstructionism, using dog whistle words like bipartisanship.

    2. “Free shit the evil Republicans won’t give you” pretty much sums it up.

    3. Everyone gets a pony, a puppy, and a unicorn

  2. The only worthwhile part of the SOTU this year will be watching feminist outrage over everything that Joni Ernst says.

    1. Sarah Palin!Sarah Palin!Sarah Palin!Sarah Palin!Sarah Palin!Sarah Palin!Sarah Palin!Sarah Palin!Sarah Palin!Sarah Palin!Sarah Palin!Sarah Palin!Sarah Palin!Sarah Palin!Sarah Palin!Sarah Palin!Sarah Palin!Sarah Palin!Sarah Palin!Sarah Palin!

    2. Brace yourself for the hog castration jokes.

      1. I’m OK with that

      2. Luke Russert referred to Ernst as a “former pig farmer”, as if being a pig farmer is some kind of bad thing. Whatever Ernst is, I really don’t know much about her, she at least got where she is through her own effort, unlike Tim Russert’s idiot son.

        I suspect they are going to start eating the furniture and do everything they can to Palinize her. I suspect it won’t be as effective since Ernst isn’t Palin, the media has less power now than it did in 2008, and you can only go to the “but she went the wrong school and is icky” well so many times. That dog hunts a little less well every time you take it out.

        1. Women and blacks that are not on the progressive team are the most hated creatures on the planet. They are evidence that the proggie narrative is bullshit.

          Bring up Sarah Palin, Thomas Sowell, Clarence Thomas or Mia Love and watch them go batshit insane. It just doesn’t fit their narrative so they aren’t able to process it. It is like showing a flat earther photos of the planet from space.

          1. But the more they do it, the more ridiculous it looks. Most people don’t pay much attention and go with the flow. At some point even the low information voters start see through it. You can’t get people to believe every Republican woman is the CRAZY.

          2. You forgot to mention Walter Williams.

  3. THE ERA OF SMALL GOVERNMENT IS OVER!!!!!

  4. Isn’t Tuesday the 20th not the 21st?

    1. Pres. Obama changed it by executive order, in violation of the Constitution.

  5. On Tuesday night, January 21

    According to my calendar, Tuesday night is the 20th. Not that it matters; I won’t watch whichever night it is.

    1. OH MY GOD. Is it on twice!?!

      1. It should be on continuous repeat 24 hours a day so we can all genuflect before glorious leader.

  6. Some him on TV today. Struggling to look like a leader.

    He chose to characterize terrorism and terrorists as ‘violent extremists’.

    Which is interesting considering the media always characterizes the Tea Party, pro-lifers, the NRA and other ‘right-wing’ organizations as ‘extremists’.

    Talk about being coy!

    1. he simply cannot bring himself to say an unkind word about the Islamists. Genetically cannot do it. Instead, he and his fellow travelers have a greater fear – and an irrational one, at that – about the proles. The NYT was warning about possible backlash against Muslims, which barely happened after 9/11. Hells bells, anti-Semitic crime outnumbers anti-Muslim acts by 5 to 1, but I doubt either the NYT or Obama is going to prattle on about that.

      1. Serious question wareagle, can you recall Obama every saying an unqualified bad thing about anyone other than Americans? I can’t. Whenever he talks about anyone outside of the US, there is always a qualification to any criticism. Whenever he talks about his American political opponents, the criticism is always unqualified and in a way which questions their intentions and concern for the country.

  7. One time, my parents let me stay up late to watch Clinton give a SOTU address. It ended up being the longest ever. I want that two hours of sleep back.

    1. I once watched one…it was the Boooosh one after 9-11. I was only watching to see if I was going to be deployed immediately or later.

      Haven’t watched one since, and shan’t restart now.

  8. Saw him on TV.

    1. Go on…

      Wait, if it’s about Obama, don’t.

  9. So who do we think will be in the audience sitting next to Michelle?
    I’ll go with Michael “Gentle Giant” Brown’s mom. Maybe Jackie the rape victim?

    1. A turnip?

      1. That’s Boehner.

  10. I really wonder what Obama will end up doing after 2016. Bush at least had the decency to run off and hide for years after his bullshit, but I get the feeling that Obama will be constantly trying to get back into the public eye as much as possible.

    1. A clash between laziness and narcissism.

    2. Hey man, those communities ain’t gonna organize themselves.

    3. Developing an international chain of “The Chocolate Turnip” restaurants, eventually placing a franchise in every major food desert.

    4. “Obama will be constantly trying to get back into the public eye as much as possible.”

      Bah. He’ll no more do that than Jimmy Carter or Bill Clinton.

      1. Bill didn’t need adulation. He just got it because of his personality and the era he was president of.

    5. Become the new Al Sharpton. He is going to be a race baiting hate monger of epic proportions. The Democrats are never going to be rid of him.

    6. Well that is what Democratic presidents do.

      Look at Clinton and Carter.

      Neither Reagan or either one of the Bush presidents ever ran around constantly trying to get media face time like those two clowns.

      1. True about Republicans, but you forgetting Gore as the biggest media whore.

  11. But what aging rockers will be invited by the GOP?
    Nugent has his charms, but really, how many of his albums did you buy, back in the day?

    Do we have to limit it to ‘muricans? Sadly, the Gibbs brothers aren’t available.

    Maybe washed up 90’s rockers would work.

    Anything to make that mediocre political theatre worth watching. Like CSPAN – it’s all about the ratings.

    1. Wouldn’t it be great if the Republicans just didn’t show? Didn’t show up for the speech, didn’t send someone out to give a rebuttal, just completely ignored it. Let Obama go to the well of the Senate and drone on for an hour with the place half empty. It would annoy and infuriate Obama in a way that nothing else could. Obama more than anything wants all of us to be angry at him. Us being angry shows him how powerful and important he is. Nothing would be more hurtful to him than just ignoring him.

      1. I was going to suggest outlawing the SOTU address, but I like your idea better.

        1. They’d have to amend the constitution for that. They could, I suppose, pass a law saying that the SOTU be in written form only. I think it was Wilson who started the BS of going to congress to give the speech in person.

          1. They could also specify “from time to time” to, say, “between midnight and one A.M. inclusive London time on the occasion of every third full moon”.

      2. Genius.

      3. Better yet, in their place send monkeys.

        Monkeys are ALWAYS funny.

        1. Absolutely! With the benefit of being better legislators too!

        2. (oh by the way. You know those comment cards that some of the mainstream restaurants leave on their tables? I always put “NEED MORE MONKEYS” on them.)

          1. I think I’m gonna start doing that.

      4. They could file in one door and out another singing “Hello, I must be going.”

        1. But, they have to promise to walk like Groucho. They just have to.

        2. Or they could spend the entire time of his speech standing with their backs turned to Obama.

      5. I love the idea, but it is premised on the republicans being opposed to the Chocolate Jesus’s agenda. They are not.

        1. They oppose him. But they are want the media to like them and think of them as reasonable more than they oppose Obama.

          I personally think if the Republicans did that the media would go insane. It would be ruining an important story. All of these journalists who were ready to cover the speech would see their bilines ruined by the big meany Republicans.

          The country, however, largely wouldn’t care. It would be absolutely brilliant.

          1. I agree, it would be epic.

            They may oppose his methods, but not his goals. I could be wrong. We will see if after 2016 corporations come flocking back to the US and the number of unemployed actually does drop below 10%.

    2. Nugent has his charms, but really, how many of his albums did you buy, back in the day?

      Back in the day? All of em, except ‘Weekend Warriors’.

      But ‘Scream Dream’ was the last album he ever made.

      Whatever happened to that guy? /sarc

  12. If you plan on watching,… Don’t bother.

    What if a Supreme or another Senator calls him a liar? Nobody wants to miss that.

    1. In 2009, Joe Wilson said “You lie!” to this: “There are also those who claim that our reform effort will insure illegal immigrants. This, too, is false ? the reforms I’m proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally.”

      Doesn’t Obama’s executive action make them legal now?

  13. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/new…..-diet.html

    These are the worst people.

    “The two women, from Kirkcaldy, Fife, jointly receive close to ?33,600 benefits a year. That’s the equivalent of a ?46,000 salary before tax.
    Mother-of-one Ms Manzur has not worked for more than two years, losing her last job in security after breaking a leg.

    She gets ?400 Employment and Support Allowance a month and ?430 to cover the rent on her flat.
    Miss Manzur also gets disability allowance because she is obese and has recurring problems with her leg.
    She said: “People shouldn’t judge me or my mum for how big we are because it’s in our genes.

    “I’ve never been on a diet or to a gym and I don’t even eat that much junk food. It’s my natural build to be this big and I’m happy to not work anymore. We can’t help it, so why bother fighting it?”
    Ms Manzur said she has tried dieting in the past but could never shift weight ? and once even asked about gastric surgery.

    She said: “I went to hospital for a consultation, but the dietician told me I was too fat for surgery.

    “That was the moment I decided to stop dieting. It was such a relief. As far as I’m concerned it was evidence that I’m meant to be this way. I feel free.”‘

    1. This is much more interesting than Obama. Apparently, somehow, both of them managed to get laid at some point.

    2. Free at fast, er, *last*.

  14. On Tuesday night, January 21, President Barack Obama will deliver his seventh State of the Union address (SOTU)

    “There are those who say it is OK to eat children for breakfast…”

    1. “… but the future must not belong to them.”

  15. Does anyone other than journalists and other assorted socially awkward political obsessives ever watch these speeches anymore? I don’t know a single person of any political persuasion who is going to watch this speech. Do you guys?

    1. I confess to watching from time to time, but *only* in the hopes of catching an incident such as Bobarian mentions.

    2. George Will has argued that the SOTU address could just be a letter. The president is obligated to inform congress of this thoughts, from time to time, but there’s no requirement for a speech or pageantry.

  16. You know, SOTU kinda looks like STFU. If only.

    1. Yeah, I always go the wrong way and then have to shift back. Every time.

  17. To encourage people to actually watch the SOTU and to stimulate the economy, I proposed a drinking game during my political commentary on OAN this past Monday. Here’s how it works:

    Every time the audience applauds, do a shot of your favorite adult beverage. If the audiences stands to applaud, do a double-shot.

    At the end of the President’s address, you’ll have actually watched the SOTU (sort of)… and GDP for January will spike an additional 5% on alcohol sales alone.

    WARNING: Do not attempt to drive after watching the SOTU or even for a few days. Consult with your physician… or at least, John Beohner’s bartender in Ohio… before attempting to play this game. Participants must be 21 or older to play. :o)

  18. my roomate’s aunt makes $83 an hour on the computer . She has been out of a job for 7 months but last month her check was $20229 just working on the computer for a few hours. read more……….
    ????? http://www.netpay20.com

  19. just before I looked at the draft four $9879 , I didn’t believe that…my… father in law had been truly erning money part time from there computar. . there dads buddy has done this for only 21 months and just repaid the dept on their apartment and bourt a great Land Rover Range Rover .
    Read More Here ~~~~~~~~ http://www.jobs700.com

  20. just before I looked at the draft four $9879 , I didn’t believe that…my… father in law had been truly erning money part time from there computar. . there dads buddy has done this for only 21 months and just repaid the dept on their apartment and bourt a great Land Rover Range Rover .
    Read More Here ~~~~~~~~ http://www.jobs700.com

  21. my buddy’s half-sister makes $66 an hour on the computer . She has been without a job for five months but last month her payment was $19090 just working on the computer for a few hours. browse around this site……….
    ????? http://www.cashbuzz80.com

  22. my neighbor’s step-aunt makes $80 an hour on the internet . She has been laid off for five months but last month her payment was $12901 just working on the internet for a few hours.
    website here……..
    ???????? http://www.paygazette.com

  23. just before I looked at the draft four $9879 , I didn’t believe that…my… father in law had been truly erning money part time from there computar. . there dads buddy has done this for only 21 months and just repaid the dept on their apartment and bourt a great Land Rover Range Rover .
    Read More Here ~~~~~~~~ http://www.jobs700.com

  24. $89 an hour! Seriously I don’t know why more people haven’t tried this, I work two shifts, 2 hours in the day and 2 in the evening?And i get surly a chek of $1260……0 whats awesome is Im working from home so I get more time with my kids.
    Here is what i did
    ?????? http://www.paygazette.com

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.