Wednesday, 29 April 2009 09:26
By Matt Spetalnick Reuters
(Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama was elected on a campaign pledge of sweeping change in U.S. policies at home and abroad. Following is a rundown of major promises and how he has fared on each in his first 100 days.
TACKLE ECONOMIC CRISIS
Obama's biggest promise was to make the economic crisis his top priority. He has done so, but with largely inconclusive results so far.
He moved quickly to win approval from the Democratic-led Congress for a $787 billion economic stimulus bill that he said was needed to jolt the country out of recession but which Republicans said included too much spending and too few tax cuts.
That was followed by the roll-out of a promised financial rescue package, which was criticized initially for lack of detail.
Obama insists the economy is now showing "glimmers" of progress. But job losses continue piling up, and most experts deem it too early to tell the impact of his strategy.
RESTORE BIPARTISAN COOPERATION
The Illinois Democrat took office declaring he would work with Democrats and Republicans. But instead of entering a new era of bipartisanship, Washington remains polarized.
Obama did bring together friends and critics alike to talk about healthcare and fiscal reform. He invited Republicans over to socialize and even visited them on Capitol Hill.
But the love-fest has not lasted. Obama showed he would cast aside talk of bipartisan consensus when necessary. Congress passed his stimulus measure and advanced his budget, voting on party lines. Republicans say he is trying to railroad them, and some even accuse him of moving the country toward Socialism.
TALK TO U.S. ENEMIES
Obama pledged to seek direct diplomatic engagement with U.S. foes, breaking with a policy pursued by Republican predecessor George W. Bush. He has reached out with a few high-profile gestures, but they have yet to bear fruit.
Obama made overtures to Iran, but that has done little to deter Tehran's nuclear defiance. He lifted key restrictions on Americans with families in Cuba and U.S. telecommunications providers seeking to offer service to the Communist-ruled island, but Havana has given little, if anything, in return.
He shook hands with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, a U.S. critic, at a summit in Trinidad, stirring criticism from conservatives at home.
START FIXING U.S. IMAGE ABROAD
Obama vowed during the campaign that he would close the internationally condemned U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba and halt the use of harsh interrogation methods on foreign terrorism suspects. As president, he has acted quickly to fulfill those promises.
Obama has also moved, as promised, to step up the U.S. role in fighting global warming. He traveled to Turkey, keeping his pledge to make an early visit to a major Muslim country.
His popularity abroad remains high, but concrete gains remain to be seen. Critics at home say he hurts Washington's stature by admitting past mistakes, but most analysts say he has made a good start at refashioning relations with the world.
FORGE NEW WAR STRATEGY
Bolstered by opposition to the Iraq war, Obama pledged as a candidate to withdraw all U.S. combat forces from the country within 16 months of taking office. Obama will come close if he sticks to the August 2010 deadline he set as president.
He has faced criticism from some anti-war lawmakers for deciding to keep 35,000 to 50,000 troops in Iraq after that, mostly for training Iraqi forces. Still, all U.S. forces are due to be out by the end of 2011.
Holding to his promise to shift focus from Iraq, Obama also unveiled an Afghanistan strategy aimed at turning the tide against a resurgent Taliban. U.S. allies support the plan but have been slow to provide more manpower and resources.
TACKLE HEALTHCARE REFORM
Obama promised to make overhauling the U.S. healthcare system a priority. Early on, he created a White House office of healthcare reform, held a conference to air ideas and set aside $634 billion in his budget to launch the process. That is a down payment on his pledge, but analysts say more work is needed with Congress to come up with a plan.
GET A DOG
Win or lose, Obama promised his daughters a dog as a reward for his long absences on the campaign trail. He has delivered. Enter Bo, the Portuguese water dog. There was only one minor infraction. Obama voiced a preference to adopt a dog from an animal shelter. Bo came as a gift from Democratic Senator Edward Kennedy.