President Flip Flop: Barack Obama’s Broken Promises, Policy Reversals and Continuous Flip Flops
President Obama’s reelection campaign has accused Mitt Romney of being a flip-flopper that changes his positions all the time. In actuality, it is the President himself who has a history of doing just that. Here is an extensive list ofn President Obama’s flip-flops, hypocrisies and broken promises:
Running for President
The very first flip-flop that Obama committed since running for President is actually running for the office in 2008. Obama said in 2004 that he would not run for President in the next election. Based on what has happened in the last 3 years, this is one promise that most Americans would likely prefer he had kept.
Taxes & Spending
Adding Debt & Raising the Debt Ceiling
As a Senator, Obama opposed raising the debt ceiling, and said adding 4 trillion in was ”unpatriotic”. As President, he insisted the debt ceiling be raised and has added substantially more than 4 trillion to the debt.
Bush Tax Cuts
In 2008, Obama said that, as President, he would repeal the Bush tax cuts for the rich. In 2010, he extended those cuts.
Capital Gains Taxes
In 2008, Obama said that, as President, he would raise taxes on capital gains and dividends for higher-income taxpayers. He has not done so.
In 2008, Obama pledged that, ”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. My opponent can’t make that pledge.” However, he has raised taxes on tanning, cigarettes, and those who do not purchase health insurance (regardless of income).
Senior Income Tax
In 2008, Obama said that, as president, he would ”eliminate all income taxation of seniors making less than $50,000 per year”. He has not done so.
Shortlyafter entering office, Obama signed PAYGO legislation which demanded that all expenditures be paid for unless they are part of an emergency. Democrats in Congress started using the loophole to bypass the legislation almost immediately. Obama touted that a previous extension of unemployment benefits was fully paid for, but later blasted Republicans for not continuing to extend those benefits without paying for them.
In 2008, Obama derided spending freezes as ”using a hatchet where you need a scalpel” and ”unfair burden-sharing”. He said that, although it’s ”proposed periodically”, a spending freeze ”doesn’t happen”. In 2010, Obama announced support for a three-year federal spending freeze on discretionary spending not related to national security.
In 2008, Obama’s campaign said that, as President, he would reduce earmarks ”to less than $7.8 billion a year, the level they were at before 1994″. Earmarks for fiscal year 2010 were more than $15 billion.
Competitive Bidding on Earmarks
In 2008, Obama said that, as President, he would ”ensure that federal contracts over $25,000 are competitively bid”. He has not done so.
Tax Credits for Child Care
In 2008, Obama said that, as president, he would increase the tax credits for child care and dependent care, and make such credits refundable. He has not done so.
Killing NASA Program
“In August 2008, Senator Obama announced, as The Washington Post noted, “a detailed comprehensive space plan that includes $2 billion in new funding to reinvigorate NASA”.
But, as The Washington Post reported in March 2010, President Obama later shattered the dreams of the NASA community with a decision “to kill NASA’s Constellation program, crafted during the Bush administration with an ambitious goal of putting astronauts back on the moon by 2020.”
Obama promised to end the war in Iraq and bring the all the troops home in 2009. He later changed his tune to say the withdrawal depends on conditions on the grounds and troops remained in Iraq past 2009.
Obama originally opposed the Iraq surge and claimed that extra troops would not do anything to quell sectarian violence. However, after the surge was clearly successful, Obama suggested that everyone knew the surge would decrease violence in Iraq.
Military Action without Congressional Approval
“President Obama has shown a striking lack of consistency with regard to the question of Congressional authorisation and the use of force. In a 2007 interview with The Boston Globe, then Senator Obama declared:
“The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation. In instances of self-defense, the President would be within his constitutional authority to act before advising Congress or seeking its consent. History has shown us time and again, however, that military action is most successful when it is authorized and supported by the Legislative branch. It is always preferable to have the informed consent of Congress prior to any military action.”
However, as President in March 2011, Barack Obama authorized military action against the Libyan regime without consulting Congress, a decision which drew heavy fire on Capitol Hill.”
Dropping Missile Defenses in Poland to appease Russia
“In his Prague speech in April 2009, President Obama pledged to move forward with the Bush-era plans for Third Site missile defences in Poland and the Czech Republic…
Just six months later however, the Obama administration surrendered to Russian demands, and dramatically dropped plans for Third Site.”
There has been speculation that Obama’s recent Hot-Mic comments to Russia’s president about flexibility after the election signal further concessions in this area.
While giving a speech in front of the Pro-Israel group AIPAC in 2008, Obama proclaimed that Jerusalem must remain the undivided capital of Israel. However, a few days later his advisers were clarifying that he no longer believes that and the division of Jerusalem is actually an issue to be addressed in negotiations.
Obama repeated the same strategy in 2012 when he promised to “have Israel’s back” on Iran in his 2012 AIPAC speech and backtracked a few days later.
Letting Sudan off the hook for the Darfur genocide
“In 2004, Senator Obama was a prominent supporter of a “humanitarian intervention” to halt state-sponsored mass killing in Darfur, declaring in a speech that ‘we cannot, in good conscience, stand by and let the genocide continue.’ He advocated tough UN sanctions against the brutal regime of Omar Hassan al-Bashir, which “should freeze the assets of the Sudanese government, its leaders and business affiliates; outlaw arms sales and transfers to Sudan; and prohibit the purchase of Chinese oil.”
However, as president, Obama dramatically changed his tune, extending the hand of friendship to Bashir, despite the fact the Sudanese government and its proxy Janjaweed Arab militias had butchered hundreds of thousands of people”.
Abandoning Mubarak in Egypt after calling him a “stalwart ally”
“Big picture foreign policy strategy has not been a forté of this administration, as demonstrated by its inconsistent policy on Egypt and the Middle East. In an interview with the BBC’s Justin Webb in June 2009, when asked if he viewed President Mubarak as an authoritarian ruler, President Obama declared:
No, I tend not to use labels for folks. I haven’t met him; I’ve spoken to him on the phone. He has been a stalwart ally, in many respects, to the United States. He has sustained peace with Israel, which is a very difficult thing to do in that region, but he has never resorted to unnecessary demagoguing of the issue and has tried to maintain that relationship. So I think he has been a force for stability and good in the region.
20 months later, the White House emphatically called for Mubarak to go”.
Obama opposed the embargo in 2004, but later supported it when speaking in front of a Cuban audience during his run for president. It is still in place today.
Recognizing Armenian Genocide
Meeting with Iran Without Preconditions
Obama tried to distance himself from the position that he would meet with Iran without preconditions during the 2008 campaign by claiming there would be “preparations”, before returning to his original position.
Obama has never had a consistent position on Iran, but one particular shift over a two day period in 2008 is the greatest example of Obama’s waffling on the issue. On one day Obama suggested that Iran does not “pose a serious threat to us”, but the very next day he was describing Iran as a “grave threat”.
Designating Revolutionary Guard as a Terrorist Group
In September 2007, Obama voted against the Kyl-Lieberman bill which would designate the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization. Obama attacked Hillary Clinton for voting for the bill, but later claimed that he supported labeling the Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist organization. Obama explained his vote against the bill using a variety of different reasons at different times.
During the 2008 campaign Obama was very critical of NAFTA, but later referred to his own rhetoric as “overheated and amplified.”
Meeting with Chavez
While running for office, Obama stated that he would meet with Hugo Chavez and discuss his support for FARC on one day and then said governments supporting FARC should be isolated the next.
Annual “State of the World” Address
In 2008, Obama said that, as president, he would ”give an annual State of the World address to the American people in which I lay out our national security policy”. He has never given any such address.
Promised to Improve America’s Image
A key foreign policy theme of the Obama presidential election campaign was the notion that President Bush had damaged America’s image on the world stage, with his supposedly ‘cowboy’ policies. In the words of a campaign document, “Barack Obama and Joe Biden will restore America’s standing in the world by providing a new American leadership to meet the challenges of a new century”.
As President, however, Obama has done exactly the opposite, insulting key allies such as Great Britain, Israel and Poland, projecting weak leadership, and undermining the standing of the United States as the world’s only superpower. As I’ve noted before:
“No American president in modern times has invested less effort in maintaining US alliances than Barack Obama. Whether it is siding with Marxists in Honduras against pro-American forces, condemning Israel, throwing the Poles and Czechs under the bus, or trashing the Anglo-American Special Relationship, the Obama administration has gone out of its way to kick its allies in the teeth while kowtowing to America’s enemies. For a president who boasted in his election campaign of restoring America’s “standing” in the world, Obama has done a spectacularly bad job of preserving friendships with Washington’s closest friends.”
Obama, along with many other leading Democrats, blamed George W. Bush for high gas prices when he was President. Yet now that prices have reached near record highs under his administration, Obama is claiming that he has no control of those prices. Furthermore, Obama has previously said he supports a gradual shift to higher gas prices, but now laughs off the claim that he is rooting for higher prices to reduce dependency.
Cap and Trade
In 2008, Obama said that, as president, he would “set a hard cap on all carbon emissions at a level that scientists say is necessary to curb global warming – an 80% reduction by 2050″. No cap and trade legislation has been passed.
Selling Oil from Strategic Reserve
In July 2007, Obama rejected selling oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which he said should be “reserved for a genuine emergency.” A month later, Obama said, “We should sell 70 million barrels of oil from our Strategic Petroleum Reserve for less expensive crude, which in the past has lowered gas prices within two weeks”, even though gas prices were higher in July 2007 than in August 2007.
Obama told a group of Democratic Governors in June of 2008 that he was open to expanding nuclear power after having previously opposed it.
Immigration & Healthcare
In 2008, Obama said that, as President, he would introduce comprehensive immigration reform legislation in his first year. He did not. He has now made the same promise for the first year of his second term.
Health Care Mandate
Obama was against the individual mandate before it became a central part of his signature legislation.
Single Payer Health Care
In 2003, as an Illinois state senator, Obama said, ”I happen to be a proponent of a single-payer universal health care program.” In 2009, Obama said, ”I have not said that I was a single-payer supporter.”
Keeping Your Insurance
Leading up to the passage of Obamacare, Obama promised Americans that they would be able to keep their current insurance plan if they like it. Further analysis by the CBO has revealed that Obamacare would cause many seniors to have their Medicare Advantage coverage cut in half and millions to be dropped from their employer-provided insurance.
Cost of Obamacare
Obama promised that he would “not sign [a healthcare bill] if it adds one dime to the deficit, now or in the future, period.” Yet, a new analysis determines that his bill will add quite a bit to future deficits.
Insuring All Americans
Obama outlined three goals for his health care legislation. Lowering the cost curve and insuring all Americans were two of the three. It has now been determined that Obamacare will add to the deficit and 25 million Americans will remain uninsured.
In 2010, Obama signed into law health care reform that was passed via reconciliation, contrary to his 2007 insistence that health care reform should not be passed by a bare ”50 plus one majority”, and his 2005 rejection of the ‘nuclear option’ in the Senate.
Televising Healthcare Negotiations
In 2008, Obama said, when it came to crafting health care reform, ”we’ll have the negotiations televised on C-SPAN.” Many crucial negotiations pertaining to health care reform were not televised.
Taxing Health Benefits
In 2008, Obama criticized his presidential opponent, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), saying, ”for the first time in American history, he wants to tax your health benefits.” In 2010, Obama signed into law health care reform legislation that puts a 40% tax on some health insurance policies.
Importing Cheaper Drugs
In 2008, Obama said that, as President, his health care reform would allow Americans to import cheaper prescription drugs. The health care reform he signed into law does not allow this.
Cracking Down on Employers of Illegal Immigrants
Obama opposed cracking down on employers of illegal immigrants before running for President, but supported it during his run.
In 2008, Obama’s campaign said that, as president, he would ”close the detention facility at Guantanamo.” And, in January 2009, Obama signed an executive order calling for the Guantanamo Bay facility to be closed. It remains open.
Military tribunals for terror suspects
In the 2008 campaign, Obama said that, as president, he would end the use of military commissions with respect to terrorism suspects and detainees. However, they are still in use.
“In a 2007 Foreign Affairs article, Senator Obama gave a strong indication that he would end the Bush administration practice of rendition of terror suspects:
“To build a better, freer world, we must first behave in ways that reflect the decency and aspirations of the American people… This means ending the practices of shipping away prisoners in the dead of night to be tortured in far-off countries, of detaining thousands without charge or trial, of maintaining a network of secret prisons to jail people beyond the reach of the law.”
But, as The New York Times reported in August 2009, the Obama administration’s Interrogation and Transfer Task Force announced that it would retain renditions, but with what The Times referred to as “more oversight.’”
Photos of Detainee Abuse
In April 2009, the Obama administration said it planned to release photos depicting abuse of detainees being held by the U.S. overseas. The administration then reversed its decision, and said it would resist court rulings demanding the release of such photos.
Obama said he would repeal the Patriot Act in a 2003 questionnaire, but later voted to renew it in the Senate.
In 2007, Obama pleased liberal advocates by promising to filibuster any bill that gave amnesty to telecommunication companies that were assisting authorities with wiretapping activities. Obama voted for a bill that did just that in July of 2008.
Killing Osama Bin Laden
Obama highlighted the importance of killing Osama Bin Laden while running for president and after OBL was killed in Pakistan, but made the claim that it was no longer “essential” when he first got into office.
Obama promised to seek public financing for his presidential campaign in 2008, but ended up rejecting public financing.
In May 2008, Obama said he would meet McCain ”anywhere, anytime to have a debate about our respective policies in Iraq, Iran, the Middle East or around the world”. But he rejected town hall debates proposed by the McCain campaign.
Voting Along Party Lines
In 2010, Obama decried Senate candidate Scott Brown’s (R-MA) record of voting with Republicans 96% of the time, saying it showed Brown was not ”independent.” When he himself was in the Senate, Obama voted with Democrats 96% of the time.
In 2008, Obama said that, as president, he would raise the minimum wage to $9.50 an hour, up from the current $7.25 an hour. It has not been raised.
“After the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) and several others (six people were killed), Obama said, ”at a time when we are far too eager to lay the blame for all that ails the world at the feet of those who happen to think differently than we do — it’s important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we’re talking with each other in a way that heals, not in a way that wounds”. Yet Obama has frequently described Republicans as Social Darwinists. He has said that the difference between Democrats and Republicans is that Democrats ”have a sense of neighborliness and a sense of community, and we are willing to look out for one another and help people who are vulnerable and help people who are down on their luck”.
In his book, “The Audacity of Hope”, Obama lamented the description of abortion opponents as”right-wing ideologues who want to take away a woman’s right to choose”. Obama said the”standard boilerplate” rhetoric had been written — not by himself — but by someone on his U.S. Senate campaign staff, and he had the ”offending words” removed from his website. In recent months, however, Obama has described Republican opponents of abortion as seeking to ”turn back the clock”, ”prevent millions of women from getting basic health care that they desperately need”, and ”stirring up fights over a woman’s right to make her own health care choices”.
Despite advocating civility and civil debate, Obama has appointed Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) to chair the DNC, even though she has frequently resorted to name-calling (e.g., here, here,here, here, and here). Rather than chastising her for her incivility, Obama has praised her.
After James “Jimmy” Hoffa, Jr., launched this invective at the Tea Party – ”President Obama, this is your army. We are ready to march. Let’s take these son of a bitches out and give America back to an America where we belong” – during an event at which Obama was about to speak, the Obama administration refused to denounce Hoffa’s offensive (and violent) rhetoric, saying they would not act as the ”speech police”. Days later, Obama’s presidential campaign launched AttackWatch.com, a website dedicated to policing the speech of Republicans and denouncing them when they say unfair things about Obama.”
“In 2008, Obama said, ”I will never question the patriotism of others in this campaign. And I will not stand idly by when I hear others question mine. [...] Patriotism can never be defined as loyalty to any particular leader, or government, or policy.” However, in that same year, he called the Bush administration’s decision to raise the debt ceiling ”unpatriotic”. [Obama] has accused Republicans of putting party before country, and he has stood idly by as others in his party — e.g., Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-CA) — have said Republicans are ”not patriotic.’”
In 2008, Obama derided presidential commissions as ”Washington-speak” for ”we’ll get back to you later.” In 2010, he appointed the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform to look for solutions to the debt crisis. The commission did not have the votes to submit their plan to Congress, and Obama has not championed their proposals.
Furthermore, in 2008, Obama said that, as president, he would create a national commission to look at whether programs such as Social Security Disability Insurance, Supplementary Security Income, Medicare and Medicaid create an incentive for people to not work. He has yet to do so.
Public Posting of Bills Before Passage
In 2008, Obama’s campaign said that, as president, he would ”not sign any nonemergency bill without giving the American public an opportunity to review and comment on the White House Web site for five days”. He has since signed non-emergency bills without the five-day public review period.
White House Fleet
In 2008, Obama said that, as president, he would convert the White House fleet of cars to plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles. He has not done so.
Obama’s position on this issue is constantly changing. President Obama openly opposed gay marriage during the 2008 election. Obama also supported states deciding the issue at that point. However, later on Obama opposed California’s ban on gay marriage and has said his views on the issue are “evolving.”
Obama opposed use and coordination of Super PAC’s following the Citizens United decisions, but recently changed course and signaled approval of Super PAC’s that are supporting his re-election effort.
D.C. Handgun Ban
Obama supported the D.C. hand gun ban before agreeing with the Supreme Court decision that it “went beyond constitutional limits.”
School Voucher Program
Barack Obama suggested he would support a D.C. voucher program before opposing it and eventually cutting funding to it.
Obama told students in 2004 he supported decriminalizing marijuana usage, but opposed it during his run for president. He has yet to take significant steps to decriminalize marijuana as President.
“In January , the Obama campaign described union contributions to the campaigns of Clinton and John Edwards as ‘special interest’ money. Obama changed his tune as he began gathering his own union endorsements. Since gaining his own union support, Obama refers respectfully to unions as the representatives of ‘working people’ and says he is ‘thrilled’ by their support.”
Obama disagreed with the Supreme Court decision upholding a ban on partial birth abortion and had a 100% NARAL rating in 2006, 2007 and 2008, but while being interviewed by a Christian magazine Obama said that “mental distress” should not count as a “health of the mother” exception to a ban.
Wearing a U.S. Flag Pin
Obama refused to wear a flag pin during the 2008 primaries because he considered them a substitute for “true patriotism”, but he started wearing it again once the primaries were over.
Obama called Bill Clinton’s 1996 Welfare Reform legislation “disturbing” at the time it was passed, but he celebrated the reforms and what they resulted in once running for president.
When videos of the controversial remarks of Obama’s long time pastor and mentor, Reverand Jeremiah Wright, first appeared, the President said he can no more disown Wright than his white grandmother. Once it became even clearer that Wright was an extreme individual, Obama did disown and disassociate himself from Wright.
Accepting Donations from Lobbyists
Obama had a campaign pledge to not accept political contributions from lobbyists, yet Obama accepted money from registered airline lobbyist Ron Klein.
President Obama promised and made a campaign issue of not have a revolving door of lobbyists joining and leaving his administration, but has consistently violated this pledge by providing waivers to circumvent this promise.
PolitiFact has a few more broken promises here.
All of the statements above have been fact-checked, but I need to give credit to several sites for being the source of many of the points on this list: Audacity of Hypocrisy, Telegraph, Director Blue, Yahoo Voices