Tonight incumbent Democratic President Barack Obama will take to the stage at the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, North Carolina to accept his party’s nomination for president. No doubt President Obama will attempt to dazzle us all with lofty rhetoric about his accomplishments over the past 3+ years, and I have absolutely no doubt he’ll make more than a few promises about what he’ll accomplish during a second term in the White House.
While you’re listening to President Obama’s speech, keep in mind these promises made by then-candidate Barack Obama during the 2008 presidential campaign, promises which President Barack Obama has broken.
- During the 2008 Democratic presidential primaries, Senator Barack Obama pledged that as President he “would immediately call the president of Mexico and the president of Canada to try to amend NAFTA” because of his belief that such trade agreements “should not just be good for Wall Street; it should be good for main street.” Watch for yourself:
Keep in mind that not only has President Obama not called for a renegotiation of NAFTA, but his administration is negotiating in secret the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement that could have a deleterious impact on intellectual property rights and could lead to the continued offshoring of American jobs (think NAFTA on steroids).
- Then-candidate Obama promised in 2008 that as president he’d not only raise the Federal minimum wage, but also index it to inflation. However, since his inauguration, President Obama has not made any meaningful effort to raise the Federal minimum wage, which was last raised in 2009 as part of a three-part increase passed into law in 2007.
- In 2008 candidate Obama said he’d sign the Employee Free Choice Act into law as president.
Not only has President Obama not signed the Employee Free Choice Act into law, but his actions as president have me questioning his commitment to the labor movement in this country. After all, the 2012 Democratic National Convention is being held in Charlotte, North Carolina, and it just so happens North Carolina is an anti-union “right to work” state, not to mention one of the least unionized states in our nation. Apparently political considerations in an election year (North Carolina is a “swing” state) outweighed President Obama’s “commitment” to organized labor.
- And speaking of organized labor, how can anyone here in Wisconsin forget candidate Obama’s promise to “put on a comfortable pair of shoes” and “walk on that picket line” with workers who were being denied their right to organize or collectively bargain? In the aftermath of Republican Gov. Scott Walker “dropping the bomb” that was his anti-union Act 10, President Obama made absolutely no efforts to stand with Wisconsin’s public employees as they fought to preserve their collective bargaining rights, and when workers at Manitowoc Crane went on strike, President Obama was nowhere to be found, settling the question of whether he was abandoning labor in general or just public sector unions.
What’s most galling to me about President Obama’s decision not to live up to his promise to stand with workers who were being denied their right to organize or collectively bargain is the fact that it’s one of the few promises President Obama made as a candidate that Republicans in Congress absolutely could not obstruct. At any time during the protests/recalls here in Wisconsin, President Obama could have boarded Air Force One, flown to Wisconsin, and announced his unambiguous support for organized labor, but he chose not to, and in doing so he made it clear where he really stands when it comes to organized labor.
- In 2008, candidate Obama said if he were elected, Americans would be able to leave behind the era of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and “wiretaps without warrants,” but President Obama’s administration has argued to keep the same powers the Bush administration had when it comes to warrantless wiretapping.
- On August 2, 2007, candidate Obama promised that “As President, I will close Guantanamo, reject the Military Commissions Act and adhere to the Geneva Conventions.” However, here we are 3+ years into President Obama’s first term in the White House and Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility is still open.
- Candidate Obama promised that by the end of his first term in office, his health care reform plan wold bring down health insurance premiums by $2,500 for the typical family. However, in 2011 health insurance premiums actually rose by 9%.