President-elect Barack Obama said repeatedly on the campaign trail that he wanted voters to hold him accountable. One Web site is answering that call.
PolitiFact.com, run by the St. Petersburg Times, has created what they call the "Obameter." It tracks the president-elect's campaign promises and whether or not Obama has fulfilled, broken or taken no action on his assurances.
According to the site, Obama has made 510 promises. "We were surprised at the scope and the sheer number," says Bill Adair, editor of PolitiFact.com. He says the number "is really more than Bush and Clinton first-term promises combined."
Adair says Obama has been very specific when laying out plans for his administration. He says that in many cases, candidate Obama would offer timetables on promises such as tax breaks, converting the White House fleet of cars into hybrids or reversing the effects of climate change.
Adair says he believes Obama needed to be specific to reassure voters. "He has relatively less experience than John McCain, and he had to show that he had the chops to be a solid candidate — to be someone who could run the government," Adair says.
According to PolitiFact.com, Obama has already kept two campaign promises before taking the oath of office. The site says that during a December press conference, Obama promised to appoint at least one Republican to his Cabinet. And he did, by keeping on President Bush's secretary of defense, Robert Gates.
The Web site also gives Obama credit for a promise to require greater reporting from investors on capital gains taxes. Congress passed legislation during its last session that fulfilled that promise.
But Adair says Obama has an uphill battle in order to make good on some of his remaining 508 promises, citing Obama's vow to reduce carbon emissions for example. But other promises won't be that difficult to achieve, says Adair. "We decided a campaign promise was 'buy my daughters a puppy.' "
And it seems that Obama was not immune to the ridiculous on the campaign trail. Adair says he and his colleagues got a chuckle when looking through the list of statements Obama made. "We laugh about one where he promised to fund programs to help game and fish deal with climate change. We've determined that it means subsidized air conditioners for bears."