The Obameter: Tracking Obama’s Campaign Promises

The St. Petersburg Times has made a list of some 500 campaign promises made by Mr. Obama throughout his run for the presidency.  To date, he has kept five promises, compromised on one, stalled on one, and has fourteen in the works.  None have been broken so far, but it’s early days yet.

Nonetheless, if past presidents’ performance is any indication, the Obameter is destined to display a significant amount of failure.  Wilson promised to stay out of World War I, FDR promised to balance the budget and stay out of World War II, and our good friend George W. famously called for a “humble foreign policy” free of nation building.

Indeed, the pledge of allegiance to pragmatism over liberty which Obama made in his inauguration speech probably does not bode well for his campaign rhetoric.  “The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works,” Obama claimed, a quote which allowed Don Boudreaux at Café Hayek to argue that

[i]f Thomas Jefferson thought as Mr. Obama does, he would have written in 1776: “We hold this truth to be self-evident, that all men are endowed by their government with the unalienable right to be taxed, subsidized, regulated, lectured, scolded, herded, harassed, and otherwise ruled in whatever ways work.

Of course, none of those endowments make very good campaign promise fodder, so if Obama’s pragmatism holds, it seems unlikely that his promises will as well.

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