Obama's First Inaugural Speech: Promises Kept, Promises Broken
As President Obama prepares to deliver his second inaugural speech, CBS News takes a look at his first inaugural address. It was filled with soaring rhetoric of a better nation intertwined with vague policy objectives. Some of his vision - health care reform and ending the war in Iraq, for instance - has been successfully implemented while other aspects such as his promise to change the political tone in Washington have fallen by the wayside.
"On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas that for far too long have strangled our politics."
This is arguably Mr. Obama's biggest failure. He ran his first campaign on a promising to bring a new type of politics to Washington and it was one of the first themes he broached during his 2009 inaugural address. He came to office after a tumultuous, partisan environment in Washington during the George W. Bush administration, which divided the country over the war in Iraq, torture and surveillance programs.
Almost immediately after entering office, Washington proved that partisan polarization was too much for the president to change, and critics say he made it worse. Most of the major legislation the president promoted passed along partisan lines. They include the economic stimulus, health care reform and financial reform. The president was also unable to avoid budget battles over spending, taxes and the debt ceiling. Just in his first term, the country risked default or a government shutdown three times.
"And we will act not only to create new jobs but to lay a new foundation for growth."
The first year of Mr. Obama's first term consisted of steady job loss as the country lost more than 3.5 million jobs from February 2009 - his first full month in office - until the lowest point of employment, January 2010. Since then, however, 4.8 million jobs have been created.
The administration credits the president's policies, including the stimulus, which was one of his first actions upon entering office, for helping ease the downward spiraling trajectory of the economy. Critics, however, point to the fact that the White House estimated that unemployment would not rise above 8 percent with stimulus legislation. It hovered around 10 percent for nearly a year and the president was unable to pass additional job creation legislation for the remainder of his first term.
"We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together."
The stimulus, officially titled the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act cost $840 billion. One-third of the funding went to stimulus, job creation and country-building projects, but even less, about 8 percent, went directly toward transportation and infrastructure programs. That is the bulk of funding for roads and bridges passed during the Obama administration, but in August of last year, he allocated half a billion dollars of leftover funds to states committed to repairing old roads and bridges. The president tried, but failed, to pass additional infrastructure spending. In 2011, Congress blocked a $50 billion proposal.