Top 10 items on Obama’s agenda
Look no further than President Obama’s inaugural address last week to see what his second-term priorities will be. As this list clearly shows, he plans to push an agenda that equals the dreams of the progressive wing of his party. Expect more details in his State of the Union address, Feb. 12.
1. Collective action
Obama sounded more like Lenin than Lincoln with his call for “collective action” in the inaugural address. He urged his fellow Americans to seize the moment, followed by the admonition “that our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it.” There will certainly be four more years of class warfare rhetoric coming from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, along with efforts to mobilize the progressive base.
2. Climate change
Obama pledged to “respond to the threat of climate change,” citing the “devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms.” The solution is more sustainable energy sources, which, the president admits will be a long and difficult path, but will ultimately result in maintaining our “snow-capped peaks” and preserving the planet. His renewed attention to climate change casts doubt on any recalibration of his negative position on the Keystone XL pipeline.
3. Immigration reform
With a call to “find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity,” Obama signaled a continued effort to push for immigration reform. Obama and Democratic leaders have already promised a major effort on the issue, even after the president already eased the enforcement of immigration laws by executive order during his re-election campaign. Republicans such as Sen. Marco Rubio are ready with proposals, too.
4. Gay rights
Obama made a reference to Stonewall, the birthplace of the gay rights movement, and said, “Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law.” Expect a second-term push for same-sex marriage.
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5. Protecting entitlements
Obama tugged at heartstrings by reciting, “Any one of us at any time may face a job loss or a sudden illness or a home swept away in a terrible storm,” as a rationale for keeping commitments to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security—a clear signal to his liberal base that entitlement reform is off the table.
6. Gun control
Obama addressed gun control subtly, saying only that, “Our journey is not complete until all our children, from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know that they are cared for and cherished and always safe from harm.” No need to say more since he already signed executive actions and has Sen. Feinstein’s legislation to curtail gun rights.
7. Spending programs
Obama mentioned the need to control the deficit only in passing, but talked in earnest about the need to invest in infrastructure and education—“a modern economy requires railroads and highways to speed travel and commerce, schools and colleges to train our workers.” Obama will likely push some kind of “stimulus” measure that will go nowhere in Congress.
8. Women’s issues
Referencing Seneca Falls, an 1848 women’s rights convention, Obama gave a nod to his feminist backers while saying “our journey is not complete” until “our wives, our mothers and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts.” Obama will make another effort to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act that couldn’t pass Congress last year, but stayed away from the contraception mandate issue that was so hot on the campaign trail.
9. Voting rights
Again using his “our journey is not complete” phrasing, Obama said that no citizen should be forced to “wait for hours to exercise the right to vote.” Expect aggressive action from the Justice Department taking on states seeking to enact voter ID laws.
Obama said little about the economy or how he planned to create jobs for the millions of workers who are unemployed. Instead, the president declared, “the economic recovery has begun”— news to the record percentage of Americans who are not participating in the work force. Accordingly, expect little from the administration on the economic front during the next four years other than more regulations and taxes on businesses.