CHICAGO — President Barack Obama has been re-elected president of the United States. Now, he is going to serve out four more years as a series of postponed crises and problems come due in his second term.
Republican leaders have said they will not back down on the budget-cutting, government-shrinking goals that they promised voters. The GOP was able to maintain control of the House of Representatives, but failed to secure the Senate.
The first thing on Obama’s to-do list is the “fiscal cliff,” a series of postponed decisions that are coming due in January, when federal income and investment taxes are scheduled to rise and spending is scheduled to slow.
If left unaddressed, that will likely act as a one-two punch to a stalled economy, further boosting unemployment and further endangering a recovery.
Obama’s much-touted solution is to raise some taxes on the wealthy and on businesses, and also to maintain spending on social programs.
But the Republican House majority was elected on a no-tax-hike pledge, and includes a larger contingent of small-government advocates than before.
Obama tried to negotiate a budget deal in 2011, but failed when he demanded too much taxes.
Also, Obama’s regulators have stored up a wave of new regulations that will likely wrap employers in a tangle of expensive health care and environmental rules. Those regulations will provide employment for Obama’s allies in unions and government, but could suck up companies’ spare cash that could otherwise go to job-boosting investment.
Whatever happens with the “fiscal cliff,” there’s no evidence that entrepreneurs and investors are wiling to take more risks as they worry about those regulations. (RELATED: Gender gap persists on Election Day, helping Obama, haunting Romney)
Those regulatory weights will hit an economy that has already been battered into paralysis by the impact of the housing bubble.
Even before the regulations and the fiscal cliff, national job creation failed to keep pace with the entry of graduates and immigrants into the job market while the economy has continued to slow through 2012.
That slowed economy would likely nudge up unemployment further than the 0.1 percent rise seen in October. If there’s another such increase in December, the formal unemployment rate will return to 8 percent.
Obama’s industrial policies — including his $70 billion of support for the green tech industry — have also stumbled. (MATT LEWIS: Time for Republicans to do some soul-searching)
Without another wave of federal funding and favorable regulation, more of those companies will go under, likely ensuring a renewed wave of green-tech bankruptcies on his watch.
Even his much-touted success with General Motors is faltering, partly because a huge proportion of its domestic sales are begin funded by subprime loans. Many of those loans — and GM’s balance sheet — may go red unless the economy recovers.
The president has also got to deal with a series of postponed international crises.
Those include the expanding meltdown in the Middle East, which may be assisted by his support of the Islamic revivalist parties that have now taken control in Egypt and Tunisia, and his planned withdrawal from Afghanistan despite the growing prospect that the Taliban — and their al-Qaida allies — will return to power.
Additionally, his continued control of the administration will help him keep the lid on numerous scandals — including the Fast and Furious gun-smuggling plan — and perhaps on the obscured circumstances surrounding the events prior and during the jihadis’ successful Sept. 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.
But the established media will likely continue to be an Obama ally in his conflicts with the GOP’s majority in the House.
“The Congress is about as popular as small pox,” CBS News’ Bob Schieffer tweeted Nov. 6, even before the presidential race was decided.