Obama looks abroad

By Andrew Hammond

The latest flash point between the White House and Congress, sequestration, will come to a head on Friday. There seems little possibility before then of an agreement to resolve the fiscal stalemate, meaning billions of dollars in automatic cuts in federal government spending will begin.

The sequestration episode underlines how hard it will be for Barack Obama to secure major domestic policy success in his second term. Republicans (including the significant Tea Party caucus), who were so at odds with the president’s first-term agenda, have maintained their firm grip of the House of Representatives, and retain a sizeable minority in the Senate.

During their first period in the White House, presidents usually succeed in enacting several core priorities (as Obama did with healthcare and his economic stimulus package). Obama will achieve some further domestic policy success over the next four years, including the possibility of agreement with Congress on immigration reform. However, many re-elected presidents in the postwar era have found it difficult to acquire momentum behind an array of significant new legislative measures, and Obama will probably be no different.

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