President Obama's Last State of the Union: A look back

President Obama

President Obama campaigning in Terre Haute. Photo courtesy of BeckyF.

Today President Obama will give his final State of the Union address. And in just a few short weeks, he’ll release his last president’s budget proposal. Here we bring you a look back at seven years of Obama’s budgets. From the Great Recession through the Affordable Care Act, from the planned (and unrealized) ends of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars to the emerging recognition of economic inequality, and from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act through sequestration, it’s been a wild ride. We’ll be live tweeting tonight’s State of the Union address from @natpriorities.

FY 2010 (February 2009): In the midst of the worst economic recession since the Great Depression, a newly elected President Obama called for a budget that would “break from a troubled past.” The budget called for working class tax credits, and investment in infrastructure, clean energy economy, and education. The budget also proposed an historic new investment in health care – what would become the Affordable Care Act.

FY 2011 (February 2010): The president’s budget message hailed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for preventing a depression. But the budget noted that millions of unemployed Americans had not recovered at all, and called for job creation through investments in education, clean energy, and infrastructure.

FY 2012 (February 2011): With the recession further in the rear view mirror, the president’s budget continued to call for domestic investment and job creation, and committed to implementing the new Affordable Care Act. But a new emphasis also emerged: debt reduction. The Budget Control Act of 2011 setting spending limits for years to come (and resulting in sequestration) would be passed the following August.

FY 2013 (February 2012): Amidst continuing emphasis on new investment and creating equal opportunity for all, the president’s budget stepped up the talk of deficits, but emphasized that the U.S. tax system must ensure all Americans pay their fair share to invest in our future.

FY 2014 (February 2013): The second sentence of the president’s budget message read, “After a decade of war, our brave men and women in uniform are coming home.” The budget continued to call for new investments in job creation, education, health care, infrastructure, and clean energy.

FY 2015 (February 2014): A new watchword emerged with this president’s budget: inequality. The president’s message hailed the bipartisan agreement that eased spending limits (implemented under the Bipartisan Budget Act), but noted that greater investment in innovation, education and infrastructure would be needed to ensure opportunity for all Americans.

FY 2016 (February 2015): An early section of the president’s budget message was aptly titled, “Helping, Not Hurting the Economy: Ending Austerity and the Move Away from Manufactured Crises.” With this budget the president firmly rejected the framework of sequestration once and for all, calling for increases in both domestic and Pentagon spending.

Nearing the end of his term, the president has achieved some major goals: ARRA and the Affordable Care Act have been marked successes, but the fight against harmful austerity continues, and the president has supported unnecessarily high levels of Pentagon spending.

Tonight’s State of the Union address will give clues as to what will be emphasized in this year’s president’s budget.. Expect to hear many of the president’s repeated budget themes: investment in infrastructure, education (including some variation on the president’s signature Preschool for All proposal), clean energy, and expanded tax breaks for working families, along with revenue increases from closing corporate and individual tax loopholes. And follow along as we livetweet the #SOTU from @natpriorities.