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Many Challenges Await Obama's New Term

by Terri Harel, published
Photo: Berkeley Political Review

Now that President Obama can rest assured he is keeping his job, there will be no time to waste in looking forward and pursuing an activist government. Many challenges await Obama's administration, as he will be forced to take a new course and employ new leadership tactics in the four years ahead.

In his speech last night, Obama assured the crowd that

“Tonight you voted for action, not politics as usual. You elected us to focus on your jobs, not ours. And in the coming weeks and months, I am looking forward to reaching out and working with leaders of both parties to meet the challenges we can only solve together.”

The president narrowly won reelection in the popular vote, although he swept the Electoral College, but his new term will require rigorous efforts to mend the deep political divide in Washington. The Democrats held onto the Senate, gaining some seats and garnering a class with a historic number of women. However, the party failed to regain the House they lost to the Republicans in 2010, leaving the president in the same “balance of power” predicament he has faced throughout his first term in office.

“The irony is that the most expensive election in American history produced a status-quo outcome,” Washington Post’s Dan Balz wrote yesterday. Yet, there seems to be a talk within the political bloc that passive aggressive legislative stalemates that have brought the capitol to a near standstill are simply not the right route. Particularly as the ominous “fiscal cliff” fast approaches, solutions are needed quickly. The president’s reelection gives him a chance to cast off some of the paralyzing partisanship by exhibiting strong leadership, a trait he is often criticized for lacking.

Taxes will be one of the most difficult points of contention for President Obama to mitigate, and he’ll need to convince his Congress that his reelection proves national concession to his tax plan. The media has begun to fester around whether or not an Elector College sweep necessitates a “mandate” from citizens to move forward on ending the Bush-era tax cuts, or initiating other tax increases.

With an election that featured an incredibly close popular vote, it would seem a stretch that there is a large national consensus on taxes, but compromise on the matter will be imperative to solving national economic woes.

President Obama extended a hand of truce with Republicans in his acceptance speech on Tuesday evening, but whether or not it can, or will, be acted upon remains to be seen.

“In the coming weeks and months, I am looking forward to reaching out and working with leaders of both parties to meet the challenges we can only solve together: reducing our deficit, reforming our tax code, fixing our immigration system, freeing ourselves from foreign oil.”

The most certain thing about the coming month, and the next four years, is nothing but a difficult road to recovery.

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