In his second term, President Obama is pledging to plunge ahead with his domestic policy agenda after a heated fiscal cliff showdown that seemingly set the tone for 2013 as yet another contentious year of battles between Democrats and Republicans. After pushing through the Affordable Care Act which became his signature piece of legislation of his first four years, Obama said he is planning to move on to immigration, energy policies, and gun violence as his future legacy in the Oval Office.
In an exclusive interview with NBC’s Meet the Press Sunday, Obama prioritized immigration for his second term. “I’ve said that fixing our broken immigration system is a top priority. I will introduce legislation in the first year to get that done. I think we have talked about it long enough. We know how we can fix it. We can do it in a comprehensive way that the American people support. That’s something we should get done.”
An Obama administration official told The Huffington Post that the president plans to push for immigration reform starting this month, and confirmed that the expected standoffs over the nation’s deficit reductions “are unlikely to drain momentum from other priorities.”
The president specified and promised to introduce gun control legislation in the first year of his second term. As students of Sandy Hook Elementary school returned to classes for the first time since the deadly shooting, two Democratic Congresswomen introduced legislation banning high-capacity gun magazines, aligning with the president’s focus on gun violence in the country.
President Obama told NBC’s David Gregory, “…something fundamental in America has to change. And all of us have to do some soul searching, including me as president that we allow a situation in which 20 precious small children are getting gunned down in a classroom. And I’ve been very clear that, you know, an assault rifle ban, you know, banning these high capacity clips, background checks, that there are a set of issues that I have historically supported and one will continue to support.”
Although the president faces a two-month deadline to put an end to the delayed sequestration cuts and to resolve government funding ahead a looming debt ceiling limit, Obama added two more priorities to his list–energy and the environment, and stabilizing and growing the economy.
“We’ve got a huge opportunity around energy. We are producing more energy and America can become an energy exporter. How do we do that in a way that also deals with some of the environmental challenges that we have at the same time?” The president said the country would need to figure out a way to produce and export more energy while tackling with the changing environment, but did not expand on effective energy policies.
As evident from the fiscal cliff battle, the president was resolute in negotiations that he would prevent the automatic tax hikes that would take place on Jan. 1. He explained how he would stabilize and grow the economy. “Part of that is deficit reduction. Part of it is also making sure that we’re investing, for example, in rebuilding our infrastructure, which is broken.” The president added that rebuilding roads, bridges and schools could boost our economy,with a combination of smart government spending and deficit reduction measures will mitigate the budget deficit.
Obama’s ability to accomplish his resolutions may be hindered by the ongoing legislative clashes in Congress and roadblocks from Republicans the president experienced during his first term. While bipartisanship is promised from both sides of the aisle as the slate gets wiped clean with a newly sworn in Congress, it is unclear if Obama’s administration will be able to get past the continuing gridlock in Washington.