Obama faces congressional wall going into second term
Published: Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Updated: Monday, April 22, 2013 21:04
“Although the list of goals was long, the specific proposals were pretty modest except in a couple of instances,” political science professor Joseph Pika said of President Barack Obama’s Tuesday night State of the Union address.
Over the past four years, senior political science major Read Scott said Obama has clashed with Republicans over controversial topics regarding the economy, and there have been disagreements over tax increases for the wealthy, government spending and budget constrictions.
Pika said one of the largest issues will come to a head in March when the sequester, or time of automatic budget cuts, is set to take place. He said he believes Washington, D.C. politicians will have a long debate on how to prevent the cuts.
Scott said he thinks one of the biggest issues for the Obama administration and Americans will be the economy. It will likely be the most important topic until Obama leaves office, he said.
Scott said it was clear what Obama wants to focus on for the next four years and it offered insight into his second term.
Yet junior Kyle Vergano, a finance major, said he identifies himself as Republican and strongly disagreed with many of the president’s economic proposals. Specifically, he said he disapproves of Obama’s plan to raise minimum wage to $9 per hour.
“Though raising minimum wage seems nice, over time $2 more adds up and small business owners won’t be able to pay every employee,” Vergano said. “So, in theory, this way of promoting job growth might just force companies to fire more people.”
Vergano also said after the president’s proposal of raising minimum wage, McDonald’s stock dropped and he took this as a sign that the business world would not necessarily approve of this plan.
On the student-oriented side of the economy, the president addressed student loans in the State of the Union. The issue is “in the heart of many students,” junior Tim Byrne said who personally worries constantly about the rising debt he has incurred through his time at the university.
And student loan programs could be affected if politicians in Washington, D.C. fail to come to an agreement in March, Scott said. He said many Republicans want to directly cut student loans, which would cause problems for students who pay for school themselves.
Obama, however, has been one of the strongest supporters of student loans, Scott said.
“It has been an important issue to President Obama,” Scott said. “No president before him has done more to help students go to college. I have a firm belief that he will do more to help in his second term.”
Another issue Obama raised during his speech was gun control, Byrne said. Like many other students, Byrne said he was horrified by the violence that occurred just over two months ago at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
“It was awful to watch, especially because I am studying to become a teacher,” Byrne said. “Although I think that people kill, not guns, there has to be more ways to prevent the wrong people from owning guns.”
Bryne said he wants more restrictions on guns in order to protect individuals from unnecessary violence.
But Pika said he thinks increased gun control will be highly unlikely due to a lack of wide support. He said unless supporters of gun control can play to the country’s current emotional state and push something through soon, it will not likely be a success.
Scott said he thinks many of Obama’s proposals will be put through, but not without a struggle through the next four years.
Historically, Scott said second-term presidents have a harder time accomplishing goals because they are viewed as “lame ducks” waiting for the next president to take over. Scott said although the president will be a said “lame duck,” Republicans will work with him to avoid criticism.
“The American system is better designed for those who oppose proposals than for those who support them,” Pika said. “There are so many places in the legislative process where opponents can kill proposals.”