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Obama Kept Many Campaign Promises But Now Faces GOP Wall
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Obama Kept Many Campaign Promises But Now Faces GOP Wall

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

By signing the health care bill into law last year, President Obama kept a major campaign promise - in fact, several. By voting to repeal it today, House Republicans take a step toward keeping a major campaign promise of their own.

Bill Adair of PolitiFact.com has been tracking the promises of the president ever since his election. He's begun also tracking the promises of the Republicans in Congress now that they have taken over the House.

Bill, welcome back to the program.

Mr. BILL ADAIR (Editor, PolitiFact): Thanks for having me.

INSKEEP: Let's start with health care here. Let's remember how major health care was for the president. This is actually a lot of promises.

Mr. ADAIR: It is. In fact, at one time I think we counted three dozen of Obama's 506 promises that we're tracking that were affected by the health care law. And many of them moved to our most advanced rating - promise kept. Some of them moved to compromise, but Obama made tremendous progress when he passed that law.

INSKEEP: Now, let me try to figure this out, though. If the president has signed the bill into law, but then it should somehow get repealed all the way by Republicans in Congress, would that count as a promise kept or a promise broken for the president of the United States?

Mr. ADAIR: At that point we'll need to change our ratings.

INSKEEP: OK. Well, on the Republican side, if they do vote as expected in the House today to repeal the health care law, do they get a promise kept from you?

Mr. ADAIR: No. That one will go to in the works. The promise is repeal the law. And the vote today won't repeal the law. It's just a vote of one House of Congress and it would then, of course, have to go to the Senate. So at this point, the Republicans will make progress today. It just won't be the final word on that promise.

INSKEEP: Bill Adair of PolitiFact.com, you said more than 500 promises are being tracked that were made by President Obama in 2008?

Mr. ADAIR: Five hundred and six. It's just an astounding number, everything from promises for families who have autistic children to Western wildfires to climate change.

INSKEEP: So how's he doing, 506 promises, we're midway through his term?

Mr. ADAIR: He's doing well. You know, you have to recognize, on many of his major initiatives, he has kept promises, about removing troops from Iraq and putting additional troops into Afghanistan.

He's also made tremendous progress through the economic stimulus bill which kept many of the promises he made. Overall, he's kept 26 percent of his 506 promises. We've rated eight percent compromise and seven percent promise broken.

INSKEEP: Promise broken. Some people will point to the extension of President Bush's tax cuts. That was something that he was against, tax cuts for the wealthy, that is.

Mr. ADAIR: Yeah, and that was one we just rated broken in December. And I think this is the new reality, that because Obama has to compromise more now to get things done, he can't just get things through with partisan muscle. I think we're going to see more promises broken.

We're also going to see a lot of his smaller promises that we've rated in the works that are going to go to stalled or even promise broken because he doesn't have the control of House committees anymore.

INSKEEP: Now on the Republican side, more than 50 promises are being tracked.

Mr. ADAIR: We collected 57 promises for our GOP Pledge-O-Meter, and they've already made some progress. They have one promise kept and eight promises already rated in the works.

INSKEEP: Such as?

Mr. ADAIR: They said that they would publish the text of bills online for three days before a vote. We've got that one in the works. We've got one promise kept for their promise to cut Congress's budget. They did that instantly when they took control the first week of January.

INSKEEP: What, if you look down these lists for President Obama and the Republicans and Congress, are some of the more obscure promises that out of the campaign trail they said they were going to work on?

Mr. ADAIR: Yeah, a couple that we really enjoyed. One was the Obama promise to help species adapt to climate change. We decided that that meant air conditioners for bears, which are probably not going to get funded now that the Republicans are controlling the House.

(Soundbite of laughter)

INSKEEP: Did he misspeak? Help species adapt - not deal with climate change, but help species adapt to climate change?

Mr. ADAIR: Well, and that's what the promise said. He got very detailed in his policy statements during the campaign, and it was clear he was trying to appeal to very precise constituencies and so we saw a lot of promises like that.

My personal favorite was his promise to push for a playoff system for college football.

INSKEEP: Mm-hmm.

Mr. ADAIR: That's one we've got rated stalled. The BCS is still to be reckoned with.

INSKEEP: Bill Adair of PolitiFact.com, thanks as always for coming by.

Mr. ADAIR: Thanks for having me.

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