President Obama may have won four more years in the White House, but he has a narrower window of opportunity to act on a domestic policy agenda. Here’s a list of five New Year’s resolutions that Obama will have on his To Do list for 2013.
1) Take action on mass shootings.
Obama has vowed to use all the power of his office to prevent mass shootings such as the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14. That’s probably going to mean gun control. Infuriating Republicans and the gun lobby may not be the president’s wisest move politically, but—given the horrific deaths of 20 small children—the president has to do something. Obama expects an interagency task force to get a set of recommendations to his desk in January. “As soon as we get those recommendations, I will be putting forward very specific proposals. I will be talking about them in my State of the Union, and we will be working with interested members of Congress to try to get some of them done,” Obama said at a press conference shortly after the shooting.
2) Set the stage for immigration reform.
Obama has pledged to bring his attention to immigration reform during his second term, and, given the pressure from his Latino supporters, he can’t afford not to put something on the table as soon as possible. In an October interview with the Des Moines Register, Obama declared himself confident that Washington can pass a law in 2013 that would give illegal immigrants a path to citizenship. He has also said that the biggest failure of his first term was the inability to sign a comprehensive immigration reform bill.
3) Keep an eye on the budget.
Getting more revenue into federal coffers will give the president a lot more wiggle room for action on all his election promises, from investing in education to improving infrastructure. End-of-year negotiations over preventing tax increases and spending cuts are just the start. Obama has said that he would welcome a broader discussion on tax reform, and, although he hasn’t put that at the top of his second-term agenda, analysts say that Washington may be ready to start thinking about cleaning up the tax code.
4) Don’t trip up economic growth.
Obama’s lucky: The economy is poised to grow out of a lengthy recession during the next four years, an infusion of activity that will create 12 million jobs by 2016. The president's top priority for the next four years has to be making sure that nothing gets in the way of this improvement. Although Obama can’t control whether the eurozone collapses or whether turmoil in the Middle East disrupts energy supplies, he can work to make sure that Washington's dysfunction doesn’t rattle financial markets. Raising the debt ceiling without drama and keeping the U.S. credit rating stable would be a good start.
5) Remember campaign promises.
The president ran his reelection campaign on a promise to strengthen the middle class--a big promise to address a big problem of economic malaise and widening inequality. He also laid out a laundry list of specific targets in his speech at the Democratic National Convention. Luckily for the president, meeting those goals shouldn’t require much government intervention. The rise of natural-gas production and the resurgence of the manufacturing sector make Obama’s promises to create 600,000 natural-gas jobs by 2021, to cut net oil imports in half by 2020, and to create 1 million manufacturing jobs by 2016 relatively easy targets to hit. He may find it a little harder to deliver on his education promises, such as cutting the growth of college tuition in half over the next 10 years or getting Congress to approve funding that would recruit 100,000 new math and science teachers.