Politics

Demander in Chief: Obama Changes Tone in Second Term

obamaAs America treks out of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression and moves beyond the 2012 election cycle, the country finds itself with a reelected and empowered ex­ecutive in his last term. Barack Obama has matured into his post and has now changed his politi­cal tone from one of a negotiator-in-chief to a demander-in-chief.

The power struggle in Wash­ington D.C. was not made any more clear after the 2012 elec­tions. The Republican Party re­mained in control of the House of Representatives and the Dem­ocratic Party controlled both the Senate and the White House. With the country dealing with significant issues like taxes, im­migration, Medicare, Social Se­curity, gun control, and energy reforms unresolved, Obama has struck a more forceful tone in his rhetoric and in his dealings to­wards Congress that has proved incapable of bipartisanship.

Since Obama’s re-election, he has been endowed with an en­hanced approval rating that may provide him with the ability to push some of his second term agenda through Congress.

According to RealClearPoli­tics’ RCP Poll Average (2013), 51 percent approve of Obama’s work while only 42.6 percent disapprove. This compares to the RCP Poll Average approval rating of Congress of just 15.6 percent and a disapproval rate of 78.7 percent.

History instructor, Noah Lip­man, stated, “It is clear the Pres­ident’s tone has changed. While he may say that he is willing to embrace bipartisanship, his actions, to date, do not reflect that.”

Samantha Hopkins, a senior business management student said, “Every few months, Con­gress decides to create a crisis out of every issue. As a student, it is frustrating to watch because I need to plan for the future, but Congress’ behavior doesn’t al­low me to do that.”

In the dealings with the econ­omy, the President has become tougher in his stances and his negotiation tactics.

This was seen during late De­cember and early January when the debate regarding the debt ceiling arose. The debt ceiling is a limit controlled by Congress on the government’s spending. Raising it does not authorize new spending, but if the maxi­mum debt were to be reached, the United States would have to begin defaulting on its past fi­nancial obligations. Throughout the debate, Obama insisted that he would not negotiate over pay­ing the country’s bills and per­sisted requested that Congress lift the debt ceiling. In the end, Congress raised the limit.

In the last hours of 2012, the debate to prevent America from falling off the “Fiscal Cliff” roared on. In the face of Repub­lican efforts, President Obama refused to renew tax cuts for wealthy Americans and insisted that tax deductions be limited.

In the end, the compromise that was struck accomplished both of Obama’s priorities. In exchange, Obama accepted the raising of taxes only on those with incomes over $400,000; up from his previous demand of $250,000.

Sophomore accounting major, Alissa Mustillo, said, “Congress has demonstrated that they can­not get anything done without a fight. The fiscal cliff compro­mise avoided tax cuts, but the political theater that went on was frustrating to watch.”

In the months ahead, President Obama has promised to work with Congress to implement changes to immigration laws, tax reform, gun control, Medi­care, and Social Security. After a first term during which he was criticized for not being more for­ward about his positions, he has made it clear through speeches, interviews, press conferences, and statements, and resource allocation that he intends to be proactive in defining the issues and those who stand in his way.

Over the last few months, Obama has continued to redi­rect his resources from seeking Congress’ approval on policy initiatives and has focused on convincing the American public that his suggestions are the right direction for America.

Most recently, his campaign resources have been converted into a grass roots organization filed as Organizing For Ac­tion (OFA), a tax-exempt 501(c) (4). Director Jon Carson and his staff launched a campaign to ac­complish the goal of raising $50 million to spend on advertising, salaries and the renting of field offices around the country.

Congress is going to have to make decisions on critical issues such as the automatic spending cuts set to take effect in March, the debt ceiling, taxes, and en­titlement spending. For students, this will affect their chances at getting jobs after graduation, the rate at which they are taxed, and the way they plan for retirement.

“For most students, espe­cially those who are graduating and entering the job market, the economy is the issue that will affect them the most during his [Obama] second term,” said Lip­man.

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