Four More Years: Globalization and Obama’s Second Term
Four More Years: Globalization and Obama’s Second Term

After a resounding win in the 2012 presidential elections, President Obama faces many hard choices in his second term.  In the short term, finding a solution to prevent the fiscal cliff will be the first priority of the administration. If a solution to the fiscal cliff is not found, many of the Administration’s goals and plans will change because of the significant budget cuts.

From the Euro Crisis to Syrian Civil War to the rising power of China, the U.S. faces many unresolved long-term challenges around the world. Analysts expect the Obama administration to continue along the same path, while acting more forcibly to address these issues as well as other domestic concerns, such as creating more jobs, lowering the deficit and passing comprehensive immigration reform.

This news analysis examines key globalization challenges facing the Obama administration and highlights potential solutions.

Trade and Investment Policy

Increasing international trade and investment will be one of Obama’s priorities in the next four years because it is an effective tool to spur economic growth.

China

During the campaign season, President Obama took a strong stance against China’s unfair trading practices, including submitting an official WTO complaint against China’s imposition of $3 billion dollar duties on American car exports. Obama filed three other WTO complaint against China, addressing duties on steel and chicken products (Obama knocks China trade policy, Romney on campaign tour, 2012). While popular at home, it is unclear whether this tough stance will increase American exports.

With a transition of power in China, U.S. relations may improve with the country over the next four years. China’s state-run Xinhua news agency comments: “The new Obama administration perhaps should bear in mind that a stronger and more dynamic China-U.S. relationship, especially in trade, will not only provide U.S. investment with rich business opportunities, but also help to revive the sagging global economy” (Jones, 2012).

European Debt Crisis

Germany’s der Speigel (2012) notes that Obama does not support the EU’s austerity approach towards the debt crisis. The administration wants employment-driven and demand-driven policies to spur economic growth, particularly in the southern Euro-zone countries. As a counter point to increased U.S. involvement in the debt crisis, European officials want an EU- US trade agreement. The Obama trade team is quietly pursuing the agreement. Europe is also interested in further U.S. actions to combat climate change, which the Administration has previously pursued through trade financing and established tax credits for state-based industries in the U.S (Barker, 2012).

Investment

The Obama administration is interested in “nation-building” at home, making the U.S. economy more attractive to investors. Obama plans to double the research budget of the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology and increase nondefense research and development funding by five percent.

Beyond increasing budgets, Obama will continue to connect researchers to private sector finance by reforming the Small Business Innovation Research program and implementing the American Invents Act to strengthen the U.S. patent system. Furthermore, Obama plans to recruit 100,000 new science and math teachers in the next decade through the $700 million dollar “Educate to Innovate” program paid for by big business (Romm, 2012).

Energy and the Environment Policy

Clean energy investment was a hallmark of Obama’s first term. Obama wants the U.S. to be a net energy exporter by 2022 and hopes to achieve this goal through a wide-range of policies. Most expect the President to pass the Keystone pipeline to spur domestic oil gas and gas production (Rorke, 2012).

While the Keystone Pipeline will help the natural gas industry, the EPA is proposing new regulations to control air pollution from natural gas wells. The Department of the Interior is considering new regulations on hydraulic fracturing for natural gas on federal lands, a potential template for private fracturing on lands.  The regulations seek to ensure that fracking does not contaminate groundwater or cause earthquakes. This will shift the regulatory oversight from the states to the federal government and will cost the industry a lot of money (Weinstein 2012).

The administration is also making it more difficult to use coal as an energy source. The EPA is making it more expensive to produce coal and is constraining the use of coal. New greenhouse gas regulations in the Clean Air Act will make it nearly impossible to open new coal factories in the future. Low natural gas prices are expected to accelerate the coal’s demise (Rorke, 2012).

To achieve energy goals, the administration is relying heavily on clean energy (Rorke, 2012). The creation of the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) in Obama’s first term was a bi-partisan initiative to support high-risk clean energy investments (Stepp, 2012) Many expect the Obama Administration to continue to support clean energy initiatives as part of its energy and economic growth policies, while de-emphasizing fossil fuel consumption. Increasing the amount of alternative fuels, raising fuel economy standards, loan guarantees, tax credits, research grants, and the federal Renewable Fuel Standard, and the elimination of subsidies for fossil fuel companies are all tools the Administration will use to reduce oil consumption  and lower greenhouse gas emissions (Holt, 2012).

Media and Technology Policy

Venture Beat (2012) notes that in the first term Obama, “focused on issues such as cyber security, a modern patent system, robotics, advanced manufacturing, learning technologies, privacy, an open and accountable government, and open data initiatives” and in the second term he will focus on “high-speed broadband Internet access, fourth-generation (4G) wireless networks, new health care information technology and a modernized electrical grid.” Other media and technology concerns include Internet freedom and outsourcing in the technology sector.

Internet Freedom

The administration will continue to push for net neutrality (Romm, 2012).  To improve Internet freedom, Obama will obligate countries participating in trade agreements to balance copyright protections with exemptions for criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Copyright terms though will be expanded and better enforced (Carter, 2012).

Outsourcing

During the campaign, outsourcing was vilified by the Obama campaign as moving American jobs overseas. In India, there are mixed reactions to Obama’s rhetoric, though there is hope that India can work together with the U.S. to improve the global economy (Gottipati, 2012). India’s outsourcing companies earn half of their revenue from U.S. businesses. Some outsourcing companies noted that the Obama administration pushed tougher visa rules making harder for them to relocate employees to the U.S. Others saw the developments in a positive light, noting that Indian companies can partner with American companies to use technology to drive world-wide economic growth (Thoppil, 2012).

Healthcare Policy and Women’s Rights

Obama’s 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was the largest overhaul of the U.S. healthcare system since the 1960s. The election of Obama ensures that it will not be repealed. The Supreme Court decision gave legitimacy to the Act and it also gave states the ability to opt out of the Medicaid expansions without losing federal funding for other provisions (Morgan and Yukhananov, 2012).  The administration will continue to fight to keep this landmark legislation in place.

Similar to the mandate on the Affordable Care Act, Obama’s win is viewed as a mandate in the fight for women’s rights, particularly the right for women to make their own decisions about contraception and abortion. Like the battles ahead on the Affordable Care Act, challenges are most likely to arise at the state level rather than on the federal level.

Migration Policy

During his first term, Obama made headway with the Hispanic community by announcing that the government would stop deporting young, undocumented immigrants who match the criteria of the yet-to-be passed Dream Act. In the next four years, many hope that the Administration will finally tackle comprehensive immigration reform.

The Tech community raised nearly $7.1 million for the campaign and is hopeful that in return Obama will, at the very least, increase the number of temporary worker visas and green cards for those in the STEM fields and other highly skilled immigrants (Smith, 2012). Increased Latino turnout is another reason why Obama will probably find bi-partisan support to fix the U.S. immigration system.

Education Policy

Improving the nation’s education system as a long-term strategy for economic growth and prosperity has always been important to leaders across the aisle. The difference between the two parties is the policies they believe are needed to achieve a better education system. Education program, except for Pell grants, may be particularly hard hit if the fiscal cliff is not addressed. College education tax credits are also set to expire as well.

In the next four years, the Administration will most likely address the eight billion dollar shortfall for Pell grants, federal government student loan rates, job retraining (including plans to train two million workers through community college and private sector partnerships), re-authorization of the Higher Education Act, and funding to hire more 100,000 new math and science teachers (Decision 2012: What’s Next for Education?, 2012)

International Law and Human Rights Policy

Two of the key human rights and international law issues facing the Administration are the continued use of drones and Syrian Civil War. The media reported that for the first time Iran shot down a U.S. drone in international waters, making it clear that Iran is another critical geopolitical issue.

Drone Warfare

As noted in our previous news analysis on drone warfare , drone warfare is the linchpin of the Obama counter-terrorism strategy in Central Asia. The use of drones to carry out targeted killing is considered by the United Nations to be a major challenge to the system of international law. It encourages other states to flout established human rights standards. (Bowcott, 2012).  Despite growing concerns about the legality and impact of drone warfare, Obama indicated during the presidential foreign policy debate that he plans to continue using drones.

Syria

Many expect that Obama will become more directly address the Syrian Civil War. Recently Britain announced it would deal directly with rebel military leaders. Turkey is in discussion with NATO allies to use U.S. patriot missiles to protect a safe zone inside Syria.  This means that the U.S. might follow Britain’s path and start meeting with rebel military commanders to help shape the opposition into a cohesive force and that it might work with NATO to use deploy missiles on the Turkish side of the border for defensive purposes (Western efforts shifting on Syria after Obama re-election, 2012)

Iran

Keeping Iran from getting nuclear weapons has been a major priority of the Obama administration. Multilateral sanctions seem to be impacting Iran’s economy, though it is not yet clear if they will be a strong enough deterrent. Some Iranians propose that the Administration should pursue a human rights agenda with demands and landmarks that allow the Iranians greater freedom of expression (Boroumand, 2012). On this front, Obama has imposed financial sanctions against Iranian officials and government bodies that are jamming satellite broadcasts and preventing Internet access for Iranians (In 1st foreign policy move since Obama’s re-election, administration sets new Iran sanctions, 2012). Most analysts expect the Administration will continue to pressure Iran using sanctions, but will also pursue a deal to get Iran to curb its nuclear program.

Conclusion

Many major policy battles were put on hold over the last two years as compromise between the two parties was difficult. While addressing all of the above globalization issues are crucial for the next term, the biggest challenge facing Obama is leading this country forward with bi-partisan support to tackle these key issues.


Works Works Cited

Barker, T. (2012, November 7). The Trans-Atlantic take Obama victory to further Euro-Crisis clash with Berlin. der Spiegel. Retrieved from: http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/what-obama-victory-means-for-trans-atlantic-relations-a-865695.html

Boroumand, R. (2012, November 7). What the president should now do About Iran. Huffington Post. Retrieved from: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/roya-boroumand/obama-iran-2012_b_2076178.html

Bowcott, O. (2012, June 21). Drone strikes threaten 50 years of international law, says UN rapporteur. The Guardian. Retrieved from: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/jun/21/drone-strikes-international-law-un

Carter, Z. (2012, July 3). Obama trade policy seeks to include exceptions in Trans-Pacific partnership. Huffington Post. Retrieved from: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/03/obama-trade-policy-trans-pacific-partnership-ron-kirk-ustr_n_1646921.html

Decision 2012: What’s next for education? (2012, November 7). Retrieved from: http://diverseeducation.com/article/49298/

Gottipati, S. (2012, November 7). India’s outsourcing industry welcomes Obama win. The New York Times. Retrieved from: http://india.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/11/07/indias-outsourcing-industry-welcomes-obama-win/

Holt, D. (2012, November 6). Energy affordability is top priority. National Journal. Retrieved from: http://energy.nationaljournal.com/2012/11/election-2012-whats-at-stake-f.php

In 1st foreign policy move since Obama’s re-election, administration sets new Iran sanctions (2012, November 8). Washington Post. Retrieved from: http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/in-1st-foreign-policy-move-since-obamas-re-election-administration-sets-new-iran-sanctions/2012/11/08/84c7cefa-29d7-11e2-aaa5-ac786110c486_story.html

Jones, T. Y. (2012, November 7). China says Obama win offers opportunity to mend ties. Reuters. Retrieved from: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/11/07/us-usa-campaign-china-idUSBRE8A615720121107

Obama knocks China trade policy, Romney on campaign tour (2012, July 5). Reuters. Retrieved from: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/07/05/us-usa-campaign-obama-idUSBRE8640WM20120705

Romm, J. (2012, November 6). How do Obama and Romney stack up on science policy?. The Energy Collective. Retrieved from: http://theenergycollective.com/josephromm/139496/how-do-obama-and-romney-stack-science-policy

Rorke, C. (2012, November 6). Divergent views, limited power. National Journal. Retrieved from: http://energy.nationaljournal.com/2012/11/election-2012-whats-at-stake-f.php

Stepp, M. (2012, November 6). Clean energy inflection point. National Journal. Retrieved from: http://energy.nationaljournal.com/2012/11/election-2012-whats-at-stake-f.php

Morgan, D. and Yukhananov, A. (2012, November 7). Obama win clears health law hurdle, challenges remain. Reuters. Retrieved from: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/11/07/us-usa-campaign-health-idUSBRE8A60PF20121107

Smith, G. (2012, November 7). Technology industry puts immigration reform as top hope for Obama’s second term. Huffington Post. Retrieved from: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/07/technology-immigration-reform-obama_n_2087457.html

Takahashi, D. (2012, November 6). What will four more years of Obama mean for the tech industry?. Venture Beat. Retrieved from: http://venturebeat.com/2012/11/06/what-will-four-more-years-of-obama-mean-for-the-tech-industry/

Thoppil, D. A. (2012, November 7). Obama’s win ‘not best news’ for IT industry. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from: http://blogs.wsj.com/indiarealtime/2012/11/07/obamas-win-not-best-news-for-it-industry/?mod=irt

Weinstein, B. (2012, November 6). Much to be done on energy policy. National Journal. Retrieved from: http://energy.nationaljournal.com/2012/11/election-2012-whats-at-stake-f.php

Western efforts shifting on Syria after Obama re-election; UK wants to work with rebels (2012, November 7). Washington Post. Retrieved from: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/uk-to-talk-to-syrias-rebel-fighters-urges-re-elected-obama-to-do-more-to-end-civil-war/2012/11/07/96683b4e-28c0-11e2-aaa5-ac786110c486_story.html

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