Reality Check: State Of The Union Promises

By Pat Kessler, WCCO-TV

WASHINGTON (WCCO) — President Obama made news in his State of the Union message by proposing what sounds like a hard freeze on federal spending.

But he skipped the biggest cuts and called for billions of dollars in new programs.

“I am proposing that starting this year we freeze annual domestic spending for the next five years,” said the president in his annual address to Congress.


A spending freeze sounds good, but doesn’t get anywhere near erasing the U.S. deficit. A five-year freeze could save $400 billion.

But the deficit, according to the latest figures from the Congressional Budget Office, is $ 1.5 trillion.

And the president did not offer cuts to the biggest, most costly programs like Medicare and Social Security.

And new spending? Billions.

“All these investments — in innovation, education and infrastructure — will make America a better place to do business and create jobs,” said President Obama.

Here’s what you NEED TO KNOW.

Among the new programs the president promised:

– High-speed rail in 25 years.
– 1 million electric cars by 2015.
– Making permanent the $10K tuition tax credit.
– More Race to the Top school grants.
– Clean energy by 2035.
– New efforts to fix roads and bridges.

But there’s one area in spending where the president’s changing his tune.


President Obama told Congress: “Both parties in Congress should know this: If a bill comes to my desk with earmarks inside, I will veto it.”

That’s a FLIP FLOP.

In 2009, the president defended earmarks as “worthy projects” and he “opposed their outright elimination.”

It won’t matter, anyway.

New Republican House Speaker John Boehner already promised that not a single bill will include one.

That’s Reality Check.

Click on the links below to check Pat Kessler’s resources for this Reality Check.

Goldman Sachs Global ECS Research: US Economics Analyst
Congressional Budget Office
Social Security: Summary of the 2010 Annual Reports
White House: State of the Union
Obama Defends Earmarks: “There Are Times Where They May Be Good”
House Republicans Adopt Earmarks Ban in New Congress

More from Pat Kessler
  • mark from

    Pat, well written story, great job

    As I sat back and heard our Presidents speech last night I was really taken back by what he had to say. He came across as sincere, honest and forthright to me. Just about everything he said I agreed with, the anger, name calling, killings just made sense to me.
    I took a good hard look at that this morning, as I was reading the comments on WCCO, Fox, Star and Tribune, CNN, and KSTP. I looked at what people were writing and what I have written in the past. I was not that person who I thought I was, I was also writing the name calling and we are better than you crap just as I saw from the others.
    I went to my email and it was full of the same kind of hate and disgust for my fellow Americans. My first email was from the American Tea Party asking me to call Michelle Bachman and tell her she does not speak for the Tea Party? I sent them an email back to take me off their list. My second was from the Minnesota GOP telling me how wrong and evil President Obama is. My third was from the Minnesota DFL telling me to support our President on all fronts, and not the Minnesota GOP. I also sent them emails to take me off their lists.
    Yes we need to watch where our money goes, and cut back on the spending. I think all parties would agree to that, but this hatred for each other has to stop.
    If there is one wonderful thing that I got out of the Presidents speech last night it was we need to come together. We need to some how come together and work this out, or we will fail as America, not Americans but America. Our great country will go down in the history books as not the Great Society, but as the Worst Society.
    We as a country have come so far where only white men ruled to a place where anyone can become President. We came from working the ground with a horse to feeding the world. We came from having a wagon train on the Nebraska fields to putting a man on the moon. We came from hitting the beaches of France to helping the survivors of an earthquake in Haiti.
    We have done so much when we come together, and yet we push each other away when it comes to helping this country grow as a nation.
    I can’t set here and not wonder what our founding fathers would think of us at this point in our history. Do they look at us as little children crying for what’s in it for me? or do they look at us as failures for what we have become. Ether choice I am not proud to be part of, but I have been both.
    When I was a child growing up in St Paul my father always told me people have something to say and it’s important to hear them, today I think I really heard him.
    I don’t know where to start, but I do know this. I will listen more to what others have to say, and I don’t mean just glance over it but to take it to heart as what my fellow Americans mean.

  • mark from

    Wow Pat are you going Conservative on us? Great job

  • Einie

    I second that. Wow, a report that doesn’t appear to be slanted. I second the motion: Great job, PK.

  • Jason

    I can not believe my eyes to what I am seeing on wcco! Way to get the truth out there. No slant, I like that. Very refreshing! Thank you.

  • Jack

    I would agree, Pat has done a fantastic job of not being pressured by the liberal media. It is refreshing that the facts alone are given and it’s not biased in it’s presentation. No one likes it when the media distorts the facts or only provides part of what is true whether liberal or conservative leaning.

  • Mr T

    Earmarks are a good thing. They itemize exactly where the money goes. That’s why he wants to get rid of them and create general accounts, so you can’t trace the money.
    Granted, earmarks are misused by crooked politicians but their purpose is to trace the money trail. Without them no one will know where the money went. Terms like “transportation initiatives” and “educational necesities” will be thrown around. The money will get even slipprier and gravitate right to those offshore accounts again. mark my words.

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