Obama's hits, misses in State of the Union

Obama's hits, misses in State of the Union
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President Obama on Tuesday will deliver his seventh and final State of the Union address.

Here’s a look back at some of Obama’s previous requests.


Financial reform 

In his first address to a joint session, which was not a formal State of the Union address, Obama asked for an overhaul of Wall Street in response to the 2008 financial crisis. 

In July 2010, Obama signed the Dodd-Frank financial reform measure into law. He’s now racing to promulgate regulations under the law, which Republican presidential contenders have promised to roll back.

Climate change 

The president called for Congress to produce legislation that would cap carbon emissions to prevent global warming.

Less than six months later, the House passed a cap-and-trade bill in a 219-212 vote, but the measure was never considered in the Senate. The vote was a factor in the Democratic Party’s loss of the House the following year. In his second term, Obama has turned to regulations to tackle climate change.


Obama told Congress that “healthcare reform cannot wait, it must not wait and it will not wait another year.”

In March 2010, Obama signed the Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as ObamaCare. Fights over the law have never really ended, and the president just last week vetoed legislation repealing much of the law.

Guantánamo Bay

Obama repeated his promise to close the prison in Cuba during his first speech to Congress.

This promise has yet to be fulfilled and is likely to be a topic in this year’s address. More than 100 prisoners remain in Guantánamo.


“Don’t ask, don’t tell”

 In his first formal State of the Union, Obama vowed to repeal the military’s “Don’t ask, don’t tell” law. 

Obama signed legislation repealing the law at the end of that year. 


Tax reform

Obama in 2011 called on Congress to simplify the tax code.

So far, this is a promise Obama has been unable to fulfill.


The president urged Congress to protect the border and “address the millions of undocumented workers who are now living in the shadows.” He also said people brought to the United States as children should be allowed to stay.

Immigration reform stalled in Congress. Obama then turned to regulations, including action to allow children brought illegally to the country to stay.

Spending freeze

After an election that saw the GOP take over the House amid rising worries about the budget, Obama proposed a five-year freeze of domestic spending.

Later that year, Obama reached a deal to cut spending by more than $900 billion over 10 years. The deal created the “sequester” — automatic cuts to spending.


Mortgage refinancing

In his reelection year, Obama called for giving homeowners a chance to refinance their loans.

The proposal never got out of committee.

Student loan interest rates

Preventing a hike in student loan interest rates was another election-year issue.

Rates briefly did increase before Congress cleared a bill in July 2012.



Obama vowed to complete talks on the Trans-Pacific Partnership and launch talks on a comprehensive trade deal with the European Union. 

Two years later the TPP talks ended. Obama now faces the tough task of getting Congress to approve the deal before he leave office. The president hopes talks with Europe will end before his term ends.

Gun control

After 20 children and six adults were killed at Connecticut’s Sandy Hook Elementary School, Obama revived the debate over gun violence, saying “this time is different.” 

Legislation stalled in the Senate; Obama is now in the midst of another push on gun control.


Minimum wage

Obama urged Congress to raise the minimum wage to $10.10.

States and cities have taken steps to raise wages, but the proposal has yet to gain any traction among congressional Republicans. 

Paycheck fairness 

The president renewed efforts asking for legislation that would ensure women get equal pay in the workplace. 

That proposal hasn’t been considered by Congress. 


Cuba embargo

Obama called on Congress to work to end the trade embargo with Cuba.

While Obama has used executive action to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba, Congress has ignored him on the embargo.