Now that American president Barack Obama has secured his second term in office, comfortably winning the popular and electoral college votes on November 6, the question everyone is asking is what will the next four years hold for the American people?
The policies that Obama may follow have been thoroughly examined by the media. However, there are factors within the makeup of the American Government that will decide any action Obama can take.
The issue of most immediate concern is the fiscal cliff and the raising of taxes on the middle classes. A bill supported by Obama that will extend tax-cuts for that group is currently being debated in Congress.
The bill, which was passed by the Senate in the summer, is still awaiting decision from the House of Representatives. In spite of Obama’s victory, the House remains Republican, as it has since 2010, and so the decision made here will be an indicator of how the next four years may continue.
Dr John Langton of Westminster College, Missouri says: “The Republicans still hold a commanding majority in the House, and most of the Republicans come from safe Republican and very conservative districts (due to the redistricting process carried on in the states after the last census.) So they don’t fear defeat at the polls in 2014 [the next Congressional elections], even if they defy a popular president.”
If the bill is blocked by the House then those with an income of less than $250,000 (roughly £156,000) will see their taxes rise by around $2000 (roughly £1,249) in January.
The opposition comes from those that would prefer to see governmental spending cut and are opposed to paths that may lead to people with higher incomes seeing their taxes raised.
The difficulty in the US is that its system of government lends itself too much potential for division. In the US, governmental power is split between the president, Congress and the judiciary branch. This leads to a system of checks and balances, by which no one portion of government has too much control as each branch has the power, at some stage, to stop almost any action being passed.
In his acceptance speech in Chicago on election night, Obama highlighted his four goals for his second term, whicnh are: “reducing our deficit; reforming our tax code; fixing our immigration system; freeing ourselves from foreign oil.”
In his inaugural address from January 2009, the president said: “The state of our economy calls for action, bold and swift. And we will act, not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We’ll restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology’s wonders to raise health care’s quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age.”
Several of the issues are echoed between the two speeches. The economy still weighs heavily over Obama as does America’s self-sustainability.
However, it should be noted that since 2009, the US Treasury reports that the country’s economy has grown consistently in virtually every field since the global economic recession. It should also be acknowledged that self-sustainability is an ongoing issue that must be constantly maintained and developed.
Just how much Obama will achieve in his second term in office is impossible to predict. However, he has already made huge progress since his inauguration, even with a divided government.