Posted by: The moderator | January 22, 2010

Obama’s Second Year

With health care reform in serious jeopardy (President Obama went so far as to say it had “run into a bit of a buzz saw”) what new issue will the administration focus on this year?

The best political move for Obama would probably be to focus on the economy, since he entered office on a “change” platform during a recession and the economic turmoil continues to this day. Stock prices have been heading south since he announced his efforts to further regulate the banking sector a couple days ago. The president’s speech today in Ohio hit upon the continuing unemployment people are facing. Obama just needs to avoid sounding like a broken record. He’s been telling people he’s working on the economy since before he took office, back when Bush was starting the stimulus and bailout bonanza in late 2008. Some folks are tired of hearing about it, especially since the situation doesn’t seem to be getting better very quickly.

The earthquake in Haiti got people motivated to make a difference in a third world country, so perhaps we’ll see Obama promising more international aid and a better relationship with the United Nations. Hillary has already started taking shots at China for censoring the internet and refusing to crack down on hackers (or even to stop the Chinese government’s cyber warfare against dissidents). Of course, he could devote some time to fixing the gross trade imbalance we have with India, China, and a dozen other countries across the globe. He could also dabble in the Israel/Palestine quagmire like several of his predecessors, but don’t expect any progress.

The rest of the industrialized world would like to see some action on the environment, particularly after last year’s Copenhagen Accord received an almost meaningless vote from the assembled delegates for countries to “take note of” the document.

Of course, there’s no shortage of causes to which Obama could devote his second year. Remember North Korea? How about Iran’s controversial election and nuclear program? What about those pirates in Somalia? Domestically, there’s always transportation to improve, new sources of energy to use, budget deficits to decrease, and the hot-button issues of abortion, gay marriage, immigration, and whether congress should waste time probing professional athletes for steroids…

Hopefully we’ll get a good idea of what this year’s policy theme will be when Obama gives his State of the Union Address on January 27.

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