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Melissa Dilley

How many promises will Obama make good on in his first 100 days?

President Barack Obama has set many firsts by entering the White House. Among those are the promises he made on the campaign trail. Obama has made the most campaign promises in history – more than former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush combined.

Obama’s total, according to, is 509, and the Web site is tracking his progress with the Obameter. The meter shows how many promises have been kept, compromised, broken or stalled and how many are in the works.

Only a week has passed since Obama took over the White House, but considering how much he has to get done over the next four years, Obama had better be getting a running start.

Political science professors weigh in about which proposals will most likely take shape and which will fail miserably.

They agreed that it may be too early to gauge the success of certain proposals and that only time will tell how Obama’s presidency will play out. After all, our country didn’t get in its current state overnight; it won’t get fixed that way either.

Most likely:

Create new jobs

Getting a job is typically a priority for many college students, but when the economy began to take a turn for the worse, some students began to wonder if their efforts would pay off in a full-time job after graduation.

In the Patriot Employer Act of 2007, Obama vowed to bring jobs back to America.

Political science professor Thom Yantek said Obama plans to stimulate the economy by creating new energy, technology and green jobs, especially with Obama’s plans of reinventing the power grid.

“This can mean anything from chemists to solar panel installers,” Yantek said. “Some jobs will be for college graduates and professionals, while others can be done by anyone.”

Political science professor Christopher Banks said while Obama’s plan can create jobs, students have to keep in mind that their college major and career choice will affect their success.

“Especially in this economy, students have to make a good choice that is marketable,” Banks said. “Keeping an eye on what skills those are is key.”

The catch

While there are jobs being created by what Banks calls Obama’s “New Deal” approach, political science professor Daniel Hawes reminds students to keep in mind the pillars of politics: lobbyists.

Hawes said while Obama will be keeping his promise to create jobs, just what kind they are and where they will be might be compromised.

“Within promises, there are a lot of complexities,” Hawes said. “A lot of people with competing interests can cause a dramatic change to a proposal.”

For example, while jobs will be created, the field they are in or what state they go to could depend on who offers the best incentives to the president.

Likely, but it may not benefit us in the ways we expect…

Economic stimulus check

Today, the House of Representatives will take a vote on the economic stimulus plan, which would give $825 billion in tax cuts and spending that Obama believes will stimulate our economy.

Obama hopes to have this bill passed by mid-February.

“We will definitely see it, but we don’t know when or how,” Banks said.

However, he said the bill is not likely to pass in the bipartisan state of government.

“The Democrats want tax cuts for the middle class, and the Republicans want spending,” Banks said. “The trick is to strike a balance, and that is going to be very difficult.”

Hawes said even once an agreement is reached, the bill will not be the same. He said no one is sure whether the money will be put toward more bailouts, stimulus checks or infrastructure.

Banks said one thing is for sure: Obama’s plan will not match Bush’s.

“Bush’s plan was to throw money at us; Obama’s plan is not going to do that,” he said. “He wants to stimulate the economy through tax cuts that are open to interpretation as of now.”

Bottom Line: Don’t expect to put it toward a trip to Cancun for spring break.

The catch

In order to get the stimulus plan passed, the $3,000-per-hire tax credit, the credit that would be an incentive for companies to create more jobs, had to be cut out of Obama’s agenda.

Likely, but not an immediate priority with the economic downturn…

Funding for college

On the campaign trail, Obama proposed the American Opportunity Tax Credit. This would allow students to get a college education in exchange for community service.

The proposal stated that two-thirds the cost of tuition at the average public university would be paid, while those who attend community college could get their education for free.

Banks said while he thinks Obama would like to put education at the forefront of his presidency, it is just not possible at this time.

“Obama would like to make graduating easier in the sense that when college students graduate they won’t be strapped down with loan debt,” Banks said. “But he is too focused on other issues to make education a priority. He wants to put a lot of money into the economy, and so he is not so much focused on jobs for students.”

Hawes agreed that while college funding is an important issue, Obama has to put other concerns first.

“The economy is going to be his No. 1 focus by choice and necessity,” Hawes said.

So while college funding may be in the future, it probably won’t be until long after many current students wave good-bye to Kent State with their graduation caps in hand.

The catch

Even if students are at Kent State long enough to reap the benefits of this program, if it were to be passed, the money isn’t free. Unlike government grants, the funding would be given to those who are willing to volunteer in their community, Yantek said.

“You won’t get paid to do these jobs, except in college credit,” he said. “However, it is a way to gain an education and give back to the community, which I think really supports Obama’s vision for the country.”

Least likely

Simplify financial aid process

It’s almost that time of year again to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

Obama made a point while campaigning that some students might not get the assistance they need for college because the forms necessary to receive aid may be too difficult to complete, and some students may not even know they are available.

In order to make sure students get the assistance they need, Obama proposed that students should be considered for financial aid by simply checking a box on their tax forms.

This may sound easy and convenient, but Yantek said he has no idea how it would even work.

“I don’t see how checking a box is going to help,” he said. “By seeing the forms and how extensive they are, I don’t think one could take care of the other.”

Although the long process now may be inconvenient, answering the many questions on the FAFSA form helps officials better determine the student’s need.

Contact student politics reporter Melissa Dilley at [email protected].