In a Reason Magazine interview last year, Ted Balaker asked me about my hopes for the incoming Obama administration. "Maybe Obama will be financially responsible," I said.
I’m so inclined to wishful thinking.
It's now been one year since Obama took office. He promised fiscal responsibility. Then he broke lots of those promises. Here is a list of some:
Promise #6: No Tax Increase on Families Making Under 250k
“Under my plan, no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase - not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes,” Obama said in a September 2008 town hall meeting in Dover.
Reality: In his first year in office, he proposed Cap and Trade, which would be a fat tax on everyone. He increased the cigarette tax by 159 percent, and now we have that proposed tax on fancy health care benefits.
During the campaign, he criticized John McCain for just suggesting that.
“My opponent can't make that pledge [not to raise taxes] and here’s why: for the first time in American history, John McCain wants to tax your health care benefits," he said in the same speech.
But now it's Obama who wants to tax health plans:
“This reform will charge insurance companies a fee for their most expensive policies,” he said in his health care address to Congress.
Promise #5: Ban Earmarks
"We are going to ban all earmarks,” Obama said at a press conference on January 6, 2009.
Reality: The first spending bill he signed had over 9,000 earmarks.
Promise #4: I Won't Force Americans To Buy Insurance
During the campaign, Obama attacked Hillary Clinton:
“She believes we have to force people who don’t have insurance,” he said in a primary debate in January 2008.
In a Feb. 2008 CNN interview, he added: “If a mandate was the solution, we could try that to solve homelessness by mandating that everybody buy a house.”
Reality: This September, he told Congress: “Under my plan, individuals will be required to carry basic health insurance.”
Promise #3: Health care negotiations will be on C-SPAN
Obama promised at least eight times that "we’re going to do all the negotiations on C-SPAN, So the American people will be able to watch.”
Reality: They haven’t been there.
Well, briefly. C-SPAN CEO Brian Lamb said, “The only time we’ve been allowed to cover the White House part of it was one hour inside the East Room, which was kind of just a show horse type of thing.”
Promise #2: Putting bills online
Obama promised “When there’s a bill that ends up on my desk as President, you the public will have five days to look online, and find out what’s in it before I sign it.”
Reality: He broke that promise when he singed his first bill, the Fair Pay Act. He's broken it since, for instance on the Credit Card Bill of Rights and an expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program.
Promise #1: Cutting spending
On the campaign trail, Obama promised to cut spending several times. In the second presidential debate, he said that “actually, I am cutting more than I’m spending. So it will be a net spending cut.”
In the third debate, he reiterated: “what I've done throughout this campaign is to propose a net spending cut.”
Of course, Republicans made claims like that, too. Bush Sr. is famous for his “Read my lips. No new taxes” line. Bush Jr. made statements like “Prosperity requires restraining the spending appetite of the federal government.”
Reality: Here’s a graph:
Under both parties, government’s appetite grows.
But look how sharply the line rose after Obama took office. Spending increased 2 TRILLION dollars -- more than any year in history.