President Barack Obama arrived in the White House eight years ago riding a wave of hope that he could fundamentally shake up the established political class. Now, as he prepares to leave office, Americans have elected Donald Trump on his promises to not just shake up the political elite, but blow it up.
While Obama achieved many of his campaign promises during his eight years in office, such as removing troops from Iraq and passing healthcare reform, some are now destined to go unfulfilled.
Closing Guantanamo Bay
“As president, I will close Guantanamo,” Obama said while on the campaign trail in August 2007. Closing the detention facility in Cuba became a key part of his pledge to fundamentally change the United States’ way of operating in the world and its controversial methods in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.
Obama did sign an executive order to close the prison within a year on his second day in office, but his plans to transfer detainees to a U.S. prison was met by opposition from Congress. Still, progress has been made, with the facility now holding only 61 detainees, down from 245 when Obama took office.
As recently as February, he sent a closure plan to Congress. However the Republican-led body has steadfastly opposed plans to transfer detainees to a facility in the U.S. Meanwhile, Amnesty International criticized the plan of moving detainees being held without charges to the U.S. as a “devastating blow to the basic principles of criminal justice.”
Answering a question from a seventh grader last year about what advice he would give himself on his first day in office, Obama said, “I think I would’ve closed Guantanamo on the first day,” admitting “the path of least resistance was just to leave it open.”
Trump, meanwhile, has vowed to increase the population of Guantanamo.
Path To Citizenship
“It's absolutely vital that we bring those families out of the shadows and that we give them the opportunity to travel a pathway to citizenship,” Obama said as a candidate in 2007 of the millions of undocumented immigrants in the United States. Almost a decade later, that promise looks dead, with those undocumented immigrants now living in fear of a Trump administration that has promised to conduct mass deportations.
The president has also earned criticism for his handling of immigrations issues. Immigration groups have often labeled Obama the “Deporter in Chief,” for removing more than 2.5 million people through immigration orders between 2009 and 2015, more than any other president.
“The revolving door -- the pattern of people going from industry to agency, back to industry -- that will be closed in the Obama White House,” Obama said on the campaign trail in 2007. A key part of his promise for real change in Washington, he vowed to end the powerful influence of lobbyists. An order he signed on his first day in office backed up that promise, requiring a two-year waiting period for lobbyists taking up government posts and former government officials joining lobby groups.
Yet that order has been repeatedly skirted by the administration granting wavers and a policy of allowing officials to recuse themselves from discussion concerning issues on which they used to lobby, according to Politifact. Indeed, a 2014 Politico review concluded that the Obama administration had hired about 70 former lobbyists.
Trump has also promised, with even stronger rhetoric, to end the reign of lobbyists, with his call to “drain the swamp.”
Cap and Trade
“As president, I will set a hard cap on all carbon emissions at a level that scientists say is necessary to curb global warming -- an 80 percent reduction by 2050,” was Obama’s promise in 2007 on combating climate change. Earlier this week, the White House released a detailed “deep decarbonization document” pledging again to reduce carbon emissions by at least 80 percent by 2050. Those plans look set to go up in smoke, however, under the presidency of Trump, who has labeled climate change a “hoax.”