A look at tough issues awaiting Obama's final term
BY Associated Press
Tuesday, December 25, 2012
12/25/12 at 5:42 AM
Related Story: Tough issues await Obama in final term
Original Print Headline: A look at issues awaiting Obama
A look at some of the big issues President Barack Obama will have to tackle when he returns to Washington after a Hawaiian vacation:
Shortly after the Dec. 14 school shooting in Connecticut, Obama said gun control would be a central issue in his second term, and named an interagency task force to recommend anti-violence legislation, with Vice President Joe Biden taking the lead.
But the National Rifle Association has made clear it won't play ball. Instead of new gun laws, the NRA's chief executive officer proposed putting armed guards in every school, highlighting the sizable rift between gun-rights advocates and gun-control supporters that will complicate Obama's efforts to get something through Congress.
Politicians of all stripes say Obama's first priority is to resolve the deep partisan divide over tax-and-spending issues. Obama and members of Congress left town for the holidays with no clear path forward to avert the combination of across-the-board spending cuts and tax increases that economists have warned could send the U.S. economy teetering back into recession. The measures are set to take effect at the beginning of January if Congress doesn't act in the final few days of 2012.
An even higher-risk conflict may arise in a few months. Congress again must either raise the federal debt ceiling by late February or early March - or see the government default on its loans.
Obama has promised to begin work on a major immigration bill soon after his inauguration. But with a full plate of other pressing issues, it remains to be seen how much of his attention the issue will garner.
Not all of Obama's second-term puzzles are at home. The end to the war in Iraq and the drawdown of U.S. forces in Afghanistan present ongoing challenges, as do the civil war in Syria, political turmoil in Egypt and instability and violence in northern Mali. Republican ire over inadequate security at the U.S. diplomatic mission in Libya where four Americans were killed may continue to vex Obama.
Obama's second term also means a shake-up within his Cabinet. On Friday, Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., was nominated to succeed Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. Kerry's nomination is expected to easily clear the Senate.