Faced with economic collapse on the home-front and two wars overseas, the administration of President-elect Barack Obama is signaling loudly and clearly that a substantial number of his costly campaign promises will have to be postponed or abandoned altogether.
The incoming administration has already begun to take some flak for abandoning a commitment to impose a windfall profits tax on oil companies. (Obama spokesmen have defended the windfall profits tax decision, saying it was only to be used if oil prices exceeded $80 a barrel). Weightier choices involving larger proposals with bigger constituencies lie ahead.
Obama's frequent press conferences since winning office are designed, in part, to provide him running room to prepare voters for the postponement or abandonment of some of his more costly pledges. His campaign promises ran the gamut, and many involve large federal expenditures.
These promises include a commitment to "quadruple Early Start to include a quarter of a million at-risk children;" to "put $150 billion over 10 years into establishing a green energy sector;" to "invest $10 billion per year in [a] clean technologies fund;" to establish a "National Infrastructure Reinvestment Bank that will invest $60 billion over 10 years;" to set up a "$2 billion global education fund to counter the radical [Islamic] madrassas;" to add "65,000 soldiers and 27,000 Marines to relieve the strain on our ground forces;" a "solemn pledge that I will sign a universal health care bill into law by the end of my first term as president;" a "loan forgiveness program for doctors and nurses who work in underserved rural areas;" and the creation of "an Affordable Housing Trust Fund that would add as many as 112,000 new affordable units in mixed-income neighborhoods."
This list only touches the surface of a long inventory compiled by the National Journal -- an inventory which, using only brief summaries, runs to 10,350 words.
The Obama administration has the overall or "macro" goal of making America "more economically secure and safe than it is today" and that goal takes precedence over fulfilling every single campaign promise made over the past two years, Emanuel said. "I'm not ready to concede" to the argument that the current fiscal crisis precludes the scope of expenditures outlined by Obama over the past year. But, Emanuel pointedly notes, if the choice is between achieving a more secure nation and fulfilling "promise x," there is no question the administration will choose the former.
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