Obama agenda status report: Did he meet State of the Union goals?

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As President Obama prepares to deliver his final State of the Union address on Tuesday, voters might want to know: What ever happened to the president's proposals from last year?

A look back shows the president has made headway toward fulfilling roughly half of his major goals from the 2015 address.

But some big ones remain unfulfilled, including enacting free community college and securing formal approval from Congress to use force against the Islamic State. And elsewhere, the president resorted to executive action when legislative proposals tanked.

The inbox is expected to pile up even more as the president delivers an address Tuesday expected to focus on gun control, national security and other final-year plans.

"The kinds of decisions that he will make over the course of next year, and that the next president will have to make during their tenure in office, will have a substantial impact on whether or not we pass on a country to the next generation of Americans that is ... as secure, that is as prosperous, and is as a fair as the United States has ever been," White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Monday, previewing the speech.

One analysis by McClatchy, the details of which were confirmed by Fox News, shows the president so far has partly or fully achieved 11 of 20 major goals he outlined in his 2015 address. This includes big wins on identity theft, net neutrality, global warming and Iran, even as he fell short in other areas.


Obama, though, missed the mark entirely on a $3,000 tax credit he said would make quality child care more affordable. Though he included an expansion of the Dependent Care Tax Credit in his budget proposal, and Democrats introduced a separate bill to do roughly the same thing, neither measure passed.

Obama also fell through on convincing Congress to approve an increase in the federal minimum wage, though various states and cities have done so on their own.

As for what was pitched as a “bold new plan” for free community college, Republicans didn't bite -- calling it an expensive proposal that didn’t have enough of a payoff.

Obama unveiled his America’s College Promise plan shortly after his State of the Union address last year and included it in his initial 10-year budget proposal. It did not pass. Instead, GOP leadership pushed for more access to Pell grants – money the government gives college students that, unlike a loan, does not have to be repaid.

And on the push for an authorization to use force against ISIS, congressional leaders remain divided on whether to even take that up.


Obama did, however, score a partial victory on trade authority. Congress approved the “fast-track” authority which gives the president the power to negotiate big trade deals without lawmakers changing the details.

Despite this win, the president faces a steep challenge in passing the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership, a free-trade pact among the United States and 11 other countries.

Obama scored his biggest foreign policy win after negotiating a nuclear deal with Iran; and getting help from Senate Democrats blocking a Republican resolution rejecting it. The key provisions of the deal could be implemented in a matter of weeks.

And late last year, Obama helped secure a new international agreement on climate change, a goal he laid out in his January 2015 address.


Where Obama struggled to pass legislation, he turned to executive actions.

For instance, when Obama vowed to make paying back student loans easier, Democratic lawmakers introduced bills aimed at reducing debt for loan borrowers. A majority of Republican lawmakers rejected them. So Obama, through executive action, expanded the federal pay-as-you-earn program which allows borrowers to cap their payment at 10 percent of their income.

Obama’s push for seven days of paid sick leave also was met with congressional resistance. So Obama issued an executive order in September requiring federal contractors to grant at least seven days of paid sick leave to their employees beginning in 2017. While some states have paid-leave laws, the U.S. is the only industrialized nation without a federal family-leave law allowing workers paid time off to take care of themselves or family members.

Prior to Obama’s executive action, federal laws required companies give leave to workers but did not require the time off to be paid.

Obama has also, in the course of the last week, turned once again to executive actions to address gun control, an issue he hammered in several past State of the Union speeches.


Obama’s 2013 speech -- which took place two months after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings that left 20 children and six adults dead -- focused heavily on that issue.

Since then, Obama has received strong pushback from Republican lawmakers on universal background checks as well as other gun-related measures. Last week -- in a move widely criticized by House Speaker Paul Ryan and several 2016 presidential candidates -- Obama used his executive authority to ensure background checks cover forums like gun shows and Internet sales.

Obama is likely to tout gun control changes again during Tuesday night’s address. Obama will leave a seat open next to the first lady during the address to symbolize victims of gun violence.

Yet more substantive congressional action on the subject still eludes the president. The same is true when it comes to immigration.

During his 2011 address, Obama said he was 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.” After legislation stalled in Congress, Obama in November 2014 used his executive powers to defer deportation for an estimated 5 million people living in the U.S. illegally.

Many GOP lawmakers criticized the move as another example of executive overreach while 26 states challenged the plan in court. The Supreme Court could consider the case later this year.