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PROMISES, PROMISES: When Obama's Promises Conflict

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Education:

The promise: Raise the high school graduation rate from 78 percent to 90 percent by 2020 and make the country No. 1 in college graduates by that year. Cut federal money to colleges that don't control tuition costs.

Prospects: A rocky path at best. There's little momentum in Congress for the spending required, his pledge to make the U.S. first in college graduates is a long shot and tuitions are climbing without the promised federal penalty.

Obama has proposed $36 billion for Pell Grants in 2013. Yet those grants now cover less than one-third of the cost of a four-year public college. In 1980, they covered 69 percent of the costs.

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Energy:

The promise: Cut oil imports by half by 2020.

Prospects: He could well deliver on this promise. New drilling technologies have unlocked enormous domestic reserves of crude oil and natural gas. Policies that mandate increasing use of renewable fuels and better vehicle fuel economy have helped slash demand. That has translated into a dramatic reduction in oil imports and increase in diesel and gasoline exports.

But oil and gasoline are global commodities. If Mideast turmoil disrupts oil production there, prices worldwide will rise, even if the U.S. gets little or no oil from that region. The U.S. economy won't ever be free from the effect of high oil prices. It just may be able to get much less oil from abroad.

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Entitlements:

The promise: No cuts in Social Security cost-of-living increases. Protect Medicare from Republican proposals to turn it into a voucher-like program.

Prospects: Obama is ready to break his Social Security pledge from the 2008 campaign. He favors a new measure of inflation that would gradually trim benefit increases in Social Security, Medicare and other programs. The change, if adopted, eventually would cut Social Security benefits $560 a year for an average 75-year-old, $136 for a 65-year-old.

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