Wednesday, April 23, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Obama has long work list to tackle when he returns

WASHINGTON — It’s hardly a secret that Barack Obama, like every president no doubt, muses about his ultimate legacy and spot in the presidential pantheon. He approaches his second term confronting tough and shifting challenges that will play big roles in shaping the rest of his presidency and his eventual place in history.

In the coming months, Obama will have to decide where to be ambitious, where to be cautious, and where to buy time.

He draws political strength from his surprisingly easy re-election in a bad economy. It’s partly offset, however, by Republicans’ continued control of the House, plus their filibuster powers in the Senate.

Some of the big issues awaiting the president’s decisions are familiar, long-simmering problems. They include immigration and the need for a tenable balance between taxes, spending and borrowing.

Another issue, gun control, jumped to the national agenda’s top tier this month following the massacre of first-graders and teachers in a Connecticut school. And the issue of climate change remains unresolved.

Veteran politicians and presidential historians say it’s almost impossible for Obama to “go big” on all these issues. Indeed, it might prove difficult to go big on even one. While some counsel caution, others urge the president to be as bold and ambitious as possible.

“Americans are yearning for leadership,” said Gil Troy, a presidential scholar at McGill University.

As a president dealing with policy, he said, Obama has generally failed to give “that visionary, powerful address that we came to know and love and expect in the 2008 campaign.”

Rather than let Congress take the lead on big issues, as it did in drafting the 2009 health care overhaul, Obama should be more forceful in pushing new legislation or using his executive powers to bypass Congress where possible, Troy said.

“The gun control issue is a major opportunity for Obama to make his mark on history — and solve a problem that has frustrated Democrats for decades,” he added.

Other presidential historians, however, think Obama is severely constrained by political realities. They say he will have to carefully pick and choose which goals to emphasize in his second four years.

“I see Obama as almost uniquely handcuffed by circumstances,” said John Baick of Western New England University. The number of big, unresolved problems facing the nation, coupled with a deeply divided public and Congress, he said, leave Obama with fewer viable options than most presidents have enjoyed.

At best, Baick said, the U.S. government “is a gigantic cruise liner, and the most he can do is keep us from hitting ice bergs.”

For instance, Baick said, “if he goes big on gun control, then it’s 1994 all over again.”

Then-President Bill Clinton pushed an assault weapons ban through the Democratic-led Congress that year, prompting fierce pushback from gun-rights groups. Clinton later would credit the NRA with shifting the House majority to the GOP for the first time in 40 years. However, other factors — including a House bank scandal — played big roles, too.

Paul Rego, a political scientist at Messiah College in Grantham, Penn., largely agrees with Baick.

“While President Obama does not face the same cataclysmic events that Abraham Lincoln faced, or that FDR encountered in the form of the Great Depression and World War II, his challenges are many and significant,” Rego said in an email.

He said Obama “faces a hurdle that neither Lincoln nor Roosevelt had to overcome during the tumultuous years of their respective presidencies: divided government.” Today’s Democrats and Republicans differ so sharply about government’s proper role, Rego said. He said that Obama’s job “is actually harder than that of his most illustrious predecessors.”

Politicians of all stripes say Obama’s first priority is to resolve the deep partisan divide over tax-and-spending issues, exemplified by repeated impasses over two years that led to this week’s showdown on the “fiscal cliff.”

An even higher-risk conflict may arise in a few months. Congress again must either raise the federal debt ceiling or see the government default on its loans.

Beyond that, lawmakers and interest groups are watching for signs of how hard Obama might push to restrict firearms and expand illegal immigrants’ rights.

Obama said last Wednesday that gun control will be a central issue in his second term. “I will use all the powers of this office to help advance efforts aimed at preventing more tragedies like this,” he said of the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass killings.

The president named an interagency task force to recommend anti-violence legislation within weeks. The strategy gives him room to distance himself somewhat from its recommendations if he wants, even though he named Vice President Joe Biden to chair the panel.

Americans’ affinity for firearms runs deep, and many political activists think Obama could have more sweeping success with immigration changes.

He won a big majority of Hispanics’ votes in both his elections. The trend alarms Republican strategists, who fear their party won’t win another presidential election until it repairs its bad relations with Latinos.

With Democrats and Republicans increasingly aware of Hispanics’ growing political clout, “this might be an historic opportunity,” Troy said.

Chris Dolan, a political scientist at Lebanon Valley College in Pennsylvania, agrees. He said he expects Obama to be “incredibly ambitious on comprehensive immigration reform.”

The effort, Dolan said, could “build a lasting Democratic support group. You can’t do that with gun control.”

Still, opposition to granting citizenship to illegal immigrants runs deep in many circles, especially the Republican Party’s base. Bids for “comprehensive immigration reform” have gone nowhere in Congress in recent years.

Several advocacy groups want Obama to make the most of his executive powers to enact measures that don’t require congressional action.

The Migration Policy Institute earlier this year made several suggestions regarding immigrants. They included “establishing uniform enforcement priorities,” defining “what constitutes effective border control,” and “allowing applicants for immigrant visas to file in the United States.”

Now that Obama has won re-election, however, the advocacy group wants him instead to push a broader agenda through Congress.

“With the issue teed up for possible action,” said Doris Meissner, a former commissioner at the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, antagonizing congressional Republicans with executive actions “would not be politically smart.”

The political climate for sweeping immigration changes “is significantly better,” Meissner said, “but that does not mean it will happen.”

Even with a full plate of challenges and a hostile party controlling the House, she said, “I think Obama absolutely has to go big on immigration.”

The White House has declined to detail the president’s plans for a second-term agenda. Once the deficit-spending problems known as the “fiscal cliff” are addressed, said White House spokeswoman Jamie Smith, “President Obama looks forward to working on a number of issues that are critical to our future, from immigration to energy, to education and national security direction.”

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

Delta barriers no longer needed

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A1

 
 
Supervisors voice concern on state Delta plans

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Dental clinic coming Friday, Saturday

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A3, 4 Comments

 
Rotarians talk about running clinic to help Haitians

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Fairfield-Suisun Sewer District eyes new auditor

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A4

 
County honors Purple Heart recipients

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A6

 
Solano recognizes 1,300-strong volunteer corps

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A6

 
Highway 12 night work scheduled in Delta

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A7

 
Kids fishing derby in Fairfield is part of Earth Day

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A7

 
Garamendi to host open house at Fairfield office

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A7

 
County approves Icon agreements

By Barry Eberling | From Page: B9

 
Ceremony set to break ground for Suisun City Walmart

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B9, 19 Comments | Gallery

Dutch Bros. opening with free drinks

By Barry Eberling | From Page: B9, 8 Comments

 
Mustangs and More event moved back to October

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A10

Museum readies to host Sallie Fox Day in Vacaville

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A10, 1 Comment

 
Golf tournament to raise funds for children

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A10, 1 Comment

Rotary club to host clay shooting derby

By Susan Winlow | From Page: A11

 
Ghost Walk returns to Suisun City

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A11

Penalty decision looms in Winters homicide case

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A11

 
NAMI talk on reducing mental health stigma

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A11

 
.

US / World

Michigan affirmative ban is OK, Supreme Court says

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
In Internet TV case, justices show concern

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

GOP candidate releases education policy overview

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

 
Analysis: Putin likely to ignore West on Ukraine

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

Biden: Russia must ‘stop talking and start acting’

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

 
Most Sherpas decide to leave Everest for season

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

Grieving borrowers told to repay student loan

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

 
Jet stowaway at hospital; security issues linger

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

SKorea ferry toll hits 146 as search gets tougher

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

 
Ukraine orders new ‘anti-terror’ operation

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

In Ukraine’s east, mayor held hostage by insurgent

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

 
Acts of bravery emerge from pilloried ship crew

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

‘Piles and piles’ of bodies in S. Sudan slaughter

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

 
FedEx sued over deadly California bus crash

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

Obama views mudslide scene, mourns with survivors

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

 
IRS awards bonuses to 1,100 who owe back taxes

By The Associated Press | From Page: A15, 3 Comments

.

Opinion

 
Editorial cartoons for April 23, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A13

 

Groundwater becomes next big California fight

By Thomas Elias | From Page: A13

 
Fairfield’s main problem is the mayor

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A13, 4 Comments

.

Living

Solving and resolving life’s problems

By Barton Goldsmith | From Page: A2

 
Today in History for April 23, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Community Calendar: April 23, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

 
 
A healthy take on the very not healthy Scotch egg

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

How can I get my 12-year-old grandson to sleep in his own bed?

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: B7

 
Horoscopes for April 23, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B7

.

Entertainment

DeGeneres making design series for HGTV

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

 
Discovery to chronicle Everest avalanche

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

Bieber seeks delay in Fla. DUI trial

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

 
Bon Jovi helps open low-income housing in Philly

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9, 1 Comment

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A11

 
.

Sports

5 Fairfield runners finish Boston Marathon

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B1

 
Sharks beat Kings 4-3 in OT, take 3-0 series lead

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Prep swimming update: Postseason looms on horizon

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
SCC softball ends regular season with 29 straight wins

By Brian Arnold | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Seahawks acquire QB Terrelle Pryor

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
NFL playoff game to air on ESPN for 1st time

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

MLB suspends 4 after Brewers-Pirates brawl

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Djokovic: Wrist better, will try to play in Madrid

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Armstrong coach Bruyneel banned for 10 years

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Pujols’ 500th HR helps Angels beat Nationals 7-2

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Rangers rally for two runs in ninth to beat A’s

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
Beverly Hanson, forgotten pioneer in women’s golf

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Tech boom presents new wrinkles for Wrigley Field

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Warriors announce new plans for SF arena

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Kentucky freshman Julius Randle to enter NBA draft

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
AP Source: N.Y. Giants’ Hill facing 3rd suspension

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Warriors’ Curry eager to erase Game 2 nightmare

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Spurs’ Popovich wins NBA Coach of the Year

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Raiders begin offseason workouts

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
David Moyes out as Manchester United manager

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

NBA Playoffs: Raptors even series with Nets

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3 | Gallery

 
.

Business

Novartis reshapes business with GSK, Lilly deals

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

 
McDonald’s 1Q profit slips as US sales decline

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

AT&T had strong 1Q on wireless installment plans

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

 
Valeant, Ackman make $45.6B Allergan bid

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

.

Obituaries

Robert James Carty Sr.

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Richard P. Horn

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Dondi Martin

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Anne Irene Elizabeth Fulgoni

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4, 3 Comments

Kyong Hee Maxwell

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Norma O’Regan

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

.

Comics

For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Wizard Of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7