President Barack Obama swept into office in 2009 with the strongest electoral mandate in a generation, majorities in both houses of Congress and promises of dramatic change in Washington.
But that was no guarantee of success.
Four years later, many pledges from his campaign and early presidency remain unfulfilled — some stalled, others seemingly put off indefinitely. A few, Obama just doesn’t bother to mention anymore.
Obama enacted a landmark health care law, financial regulatory reform and a stimulus measure. But he himself has acknowledged falling short on goals ranging from slashing the deficit to overhauling immigration to closing the prison at Guantanamo.
Mitt Romney has tried to capitalize on many of the biggest unfulfilled promises, including by going after Obama during their first debate for failing on deficit reduction. The Republican nominee has another opportunity to press Obama Tuesday night at their second debate in Hempstead, N.Y. But some unmet goals, such as failing to shutter Gitmo, don’t offer easy political points for Romney because he either favors the status quo or isn’t offering specifics himself.
The White House argues that Obama’s overall record of accomplishments is impressive, even robust, particularly given the economic meltdown he inherited nearly four years ago.
“Taking office at the depths of the worst economic downturn in generations, the president’s policies helped America avoid another Great Depression and rescued the domestic auto industry, protecting one million American jobs,” White House deputy press secretary Josh Earnest said. “In addition, he followed through on campaign promises to end the war in Iraq, take the fight to al Qaeda in Afghanistan, take out bin Laden, end ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ enact Wall Street reform so that big banks don’t write their own rules and pass historic health care reform that will cut costs and expand access for millions of Americans.”
Here is POLITICO’s look at five of the biggest items on Obama’s to-do list that never came to pass:
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