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President Obama and the State of the Union: A Brief History of Broken Promises and Failed Policy
NRCC | January 12, 2016

As President Obama prepares to deliver his final State of the Union address tonight, the NRCC looks back on Obama’s greatest failures from State of the Union addresses in years past.

Obamacare:

  • “I didn’t choose to tackle [health care reform] to get some legislative victory under my belt.  And by now it should be fairly obvious that I didn’t take on health care because it was good politics.” – 2010 State of the Union
    • President Obama was correct. Obamacare was not good politics. Its passage and broad disapproval by voters led to a 64 seat pickup and a majority for House Republicans.
    • Obamacare remains deeply unpopular. The latest Kaiser Family Foundation tracking poll found that only 40% of Americans held a favorable opinion of the law.
    • Obamacare has led to large increases in health insurance premiums, making health care even more unaffordable for American families.
    • Despite Obama’s promise that “If you like your health care plan, you can keep it,” millions of Americans were kicked off of their health insurance plans due to Obamacare, earning Obama Politifact’s 2013 Lie of the Year.

Immigration:

  • “Now, I strongly believe that we should take on, once and for all, the issue of illegal immigration.  And I am prepared to work with Republicans and Democrats to protect our borders, enforce our laws and address the millions of undocumented workers who are now living in the shadows.” – 2011 State of the Union
    • Predictably, Obama’s immigration policies have led to a surge in illegal immigration. Fiscal year 2015 was, in fact, the 2nd worst year on record for illegal border crossings by families and unaccompanied minors.

Syria:

  • “I have no doubt that the Assad regime will soon discover that the forces of change cannot be reversed, and that human dignity cannot be denied.” – 2012 State of the Union
    • Obama’s policies in Syria have been an unmitigated disaster. Since the 2012 State of the Union, ISIS has seized control of large parts of Syria, leading to the current refugee crisis and attacks in Europe and the United States by ISIS operatives and sympathizers.

Iraq and Afghanistan:

  • “Today, all our troops are out of Iraq. More than 60,000 of our troops have already come home from Afghanistan. With Afghan forces now in the lead for their own security, our troops have moved to a support role. Together with our allies, we will complete our mission there by the end of this year, and America’s longest war will finally be over.” –  2014 State of the Union
    • President Obama’s lack of direction in Iraq and Afghanistan has destabilized those countries and made the world less safe.  In Iraq, ISIS has taken control of large parts of the country, and in Afghanistan, the Taliban has regained control of multiple regions.

Background:

December tracking poll finds that only 40% of Americans have a favorable opinion of Obamacare. Kaiser Health Tracking Poll: The Public’s Views on the ACA

Obamacare premiums to rise an average of 7.5% for benchmark plan. “Premiums will increase an average of 7.5% for the benchmark silver insurance plan next year in the 37 states using the federal Obamacare exchange, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.” (Mary Agnes Carey and Jordan Rau, “Obamacare premiums to rise an average of 7.5% for benchmark plan”, CNN Money, 10/27/15)

Lie of the Year: ‘If you like your health care plan, you can keep it.’ “The debate about the health care law rages on, but friends and foes of Obamacare have found one slice of common ground: The president’s ‘you can keep it’ claim has been a real hit to his credibility.” (Angie Drobnic Holan, Lie of the Year: ‘If you like your health care plan, you can keep it,’ Politifact 12/12/13)

Surge of illegal children, families accelerates: 10,000 caught at border in September. “The surge of children and families crossing the southwest border illegally accelerated again in September, leaving fiscal year 2015 the second-worst on record, according to numbers released Wednesday by the border patrol.” (Stephen Dinan, “Surge of illegal children accelerates,” Washington Times, 10/21/15)

ISIS’ territory in Syria and Iraq is shrinking – but there’s a catch. “ISIS has lost ground since its mid-2014 height. But the US-led coalition’s numbers elide a more complex reality on the ground. ISIS lost only 14% of its territory in 2015 according to the New York Times. And those territorial losses occurred amid expansion into strategically vital territory in Syria.” (Armin Rosen and Reuters, “ISIS’ territory in Syria and Iraq is shrinking – but there’s a catch,” Business Insider, 1/5/16)

Afghan casualties surged in 2015 because of increased Taliban attacks. “The security situation in Afghanistan deteriorated last year as U.S. forces stepped back from conducting combat operation and reduced their troop levels to 9,800. At the same time, Afghan forces faced a resurgent Taliban as well as al-Qaeda and Islamic State militants.” (Tom Vanden Brook,” Afghanistan casualties surged in 2015 because of increased Taliban attacks,” USA Today, 1/4/16)

MAPPED: Shocking rise of Taliban and ISIS in Afghanistan as British and US legacy crumbles. “A shocking map has revealed the huge swathes of Afghanistan now controlled by the Taliban and Islamic State (ISIS) as terrorists battle to regain control of the country hundreds of British troops gave their lives to defend.” (Nick Gutteridge, “MAPPED: Shocking rise of Taliban and ISIS in Afghanistan as British and US legacy crumbles,” Express, 1/5/16)

Refugee crisis: What happened in 2015 and what’s ahead. “The rise of ISIS, the Syrian civil war, and instability in Afghanistan, the Middle East and elsewhere drove record numbers of people to leave their homes and try to make the crossing to Europe. On December 22, that number topped one million people, according to the International Organization of Migration.” (“Refugee crisis: What happened in 2015 and what’s ahead,” CNN, 12/22/15)

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