Immigration, economic revival head Obama's second-term checklist

WASHINGTON Sun Dec 30, 2012 4:30pm EST

U.S. President Barack Obama gestures while addressing his first news conference since his reelection, at the White House in Washington November 14, 2012. REUTERS/Larry Downing

U.S. President Barack Obama gestures while addressing his first news conference since his reelection, at the White House in Washington November 14, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Larry Downing

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama is pledging to focus in his second term on immigration reform, boosting economic growth through infrastructure repair and energy policies that nod to environmental protection.

The president is mired in a difficult fight with congressional Republicans to avoid sharp spending cuts and steep tax increases collectively referred to as the "fiscal cliff." However, he still has a longer-term to-do list for his remaining four years in office, he said in an interview on NBC's "Meet the Press" that was broadcast on Sunday.

Obama, who won re-election in November after a campaign in which he succeeded in painting himself as a strong advocate for the middle class and those aspiring to join it, also promised in the interview to make a run at passing gun control legislation in the first year of his second term.

"Fixing our broken immigration system is a top priority," he said. He renewed a pledge to introduce legislation in the first year of his second term to get it done.

Immigration reform is a sensitive subject for the president, who failed to fulfill his promise to revamp the system during his first term. Latino voters were a critical part of the coalition that helped get him re-elected, a fact that may soften political opposition from Republicans, who are eager to bolster their support with that demographic group.

Immigration reform supporters on the left believe that the 11 million undocumented foreigners in the United States should be allowed a path to work toward citizenship. But opponents believe that this approach would reward people who broke the law by coming to the United States illegally.

Republicans have sought stronger measures to keep illegal immigrants from entering the United States from Mexico. Advocates on both sides of the debate want to more effectively verify legal workers in an economy in which businesses want to hire non-U.S. workers ranging from low-paid farm hands to technology-savvy professionals.

While negotiations to avoid the fiscal cliff have hogged the spotlight in the first weeks after the election, Obama said he wants to take steps to ensure the sluggish recovery gains steam.

Many observers had believed a persistently high level of unemployment would thwart Obama's chances of winning a second term. The U.S. jobless rate peaked at 10 percent in 2009 after the harshest recession since the Great Depression but has been falling and dipped to 7.7 percent in November.

The president said rebuilding crumbling roads, bridges and schools could put people back to work and put the economy on a sounder footing. He said he would pair those steps - which would likely involve government spending - with deficit reduction measures to tame the nation's budget deficit.

The president also said energy policy would be a leading emphasis. He said he would focus on how the country can produce more energy and export energy, while also dealing with environmental challenges. He did not specify how he would do that. The president's effort to fight climate change with a broad emissions trading system failed during his first term.

When pressed, Obama added gun control to his list of priorities, reiterating his support for a ban on assault rifles and high capacity clips, as well as background checks.

(Reporting By Mark Felsenthal; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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Comments (17)
AdamSmith wrote:
Immigration reform?

There are giant cities all over the world, not just in Mexico or China, brimming with impoverished people and wealthy people, both.

All of them, both the impoverished foreigner and the rich foreigner, are being allowed free access to come to America and have their way with it. The only precedent would be the fall of Rome.

Impoverished immigrants, accustomed to living in slums of giant foreign cities, and the huts foreign farming villages, are flooding into America, willing to work for any wage, and thus driving down American wages. This is destroying the American middle class.

Rents – Especially damaging to Americans is the fact that large-scale immigration into the US from China, Mexico, India, Indonesia, and every impoverished country, has sharply driven up American apartment rents, adding more and more distress to American middle class renters.

But the influx of poor immigrants is only part of the story. The wealthy classes from the same foreign countries (literally all foreign countries, including China) are bringing their often ill-gotten wealth to America and buying up American real estate at an unprecedented rate.

Millions of foreigners — Mexican, Chinese, Indian and others — are buying not just Manhattan and Miami trophy condominiums, but small properties on, literally, almost every corner in every city and town in America. It is lawlessness.

In whose interest are we governed?

Dec 30, 2012 5:34pm EST  --  Report as abuse
TheNewWorld wrote:
Immigration reform and gun control are going to be two policies that will cost the Democrats in 2014. Have they learned nothing from the past 20 years?

Dec 30, 2012 6:45pm EST  --  Report as abuse
usagadfly wrote:
How about stopping, completely halting military and para-military activities in the Middle East?? We are approaching our 12th year of war in Afghanistan, having accomplished very, very little at an enormous price. And then there is Iraq. The American people want out of the region.

Nothing short of total withdrawal and the dismantling of our country’s offensive military capability is acceptable. Administration after administration has demonstrated their inability to resist military Imperialism and aggressive war. If the capability is retained, someone will use it against the will of the American people, while claiming it is “America’s” military. America’s military does not wage war when 80% of the people are against it. It is AIPAC’s military, the “foreign legion” part of Israel’s strategy. Stop it now. Get out. Disarm. Create mechanisms so powerful that the President cannot use the military again without the backing of the people.

The only thing immigration reform has ever accomplished has been to provide legal documentation, post facto, to illegal immigrants. Period. You might as well open the borders. Get us out of the Middle East for good, and make it impossible to wage war without the consent of the public as a whole. Do something that will bring peace to this country after half a century of one war after another.

Dec 30, 2012 7:01pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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