Obama's re-election leaves lasting impact

The president will face a divided Congress in his second term.

After a race between two different styles of government, President Barack Obama's re-election Tuesday night reaffirmed the direction the nation will take in the next four years.

This election served as a "referendum" on Obama's "style of government" and will have a long-term impact on the nation's idea of government, Tigers Against Partisan Politics President Trey Sprick said.

"I think the direct effect of the president's election is going to be less important than the effect of the voting," Sprick said. "I think this election is so important because it will show us at a critical turning point what the American people want from government. That idea of government is what's going to define government for the next kind of period. I think we've experienced in the last five to 10 years a redefining of government and I think that this election is the turning point."

According to the White House economic blueprint and other related White House blog posts, the president has many ideas for tax reform and deficit reduction.

It said Obama hopes to lower individual and corporate tax rates, making the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts permanent for middle-income families.

Among other things, the plan also calls for a tax cut for single, unmarried taxpayers earning more than $200,000 per year and a tax cut for married couples making more than $250,000 per year.

Obama also supports a tax credit that would allow companies to write off 20 percent of expenses for moving plants back to the U.S. In addition, he supports tax cuts for clean manufacturing and closing loopholes that allow companies to shift profits overseas.

One idea for deficit reduction is the "Buffett Rule." This proposal would prevent those who earn more than $1 million per year from paying a federal income tax rate lower than middle-class families. Additionally, Obama has said he hopes to pay for infrastructure improvements and reduce national debt with money saved by ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

However, the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts could prove to be a great bargaining chip for the president, MU political science professor William Horner said.

"Obama has shown some willingness to negotiate," Horner said. "He's compromised before. He signed the last extension of those tax cuts as part of a deal. They've been extended by him once already so he may be willing to do that again. I think it depends on whether or not the Republicans in the house show any willingness to compromise with him."

MU students vary on opinions of how effective the president will be in his economic plans.

Mizzou Republicans chairman A.J. Feather said he believes the state of the economic recovery thus far shows the country needed a change in leadership, Feather said.

"This isn't a real recovery," Feather said. "We had a lot of real recoveries in the past in the United States, and it doesn't take this long. It shouldn't take four years to get under eight percent unemployment."

On the other hand, Mizzou College Democrats Outreach Director Daniel Stribling said he found that the president's tax plan provides an approach that will benefit the country and said Obama is more in tune with young voters.

"The president proposed a balanced approach," Stribling said. "He has revenue increases as well as spending cuts. He's willing to come together and make some serious cuts."

Although both candidates campaigned with various ideas for jobs and tax reform, the president has little control over a lot of domestic policy, Horner said. Instead, domestic policy will largely depend on how members in Congress deal with a gridlock.

"For the president to have any success in domestic policy, Congress has to be a willing partner," Horner said. "Congress has not been a willing partner because the president can write executive orders, and they can speak to the public, but all of that is limited in terms of ability to get real things done."

But despite the president's limited power in domestic policy, the president's leadership plays a part in what the tax codes will look like. The re-election of President Obama sends a strong message of what the country wants, Sprick said.

"When you vote, you create a signal to government that says, 'This is what I want,'" he said. "Whoever is elected is going to pass policies that aren't going to come into fruition any time in the near future. That's why it's so important for college students to get involved."

The re-election of Obama also sends a signal to government on what direction the nation's values are going, Sprick said.

"I think it's a pretty good sign that our country is solidly moving in a more socially liberal direction," he said.

Sprick said the outcome of the election could also lead to an increased consumer confidence in the nation, which can affect the economy.

"A lot of citizens think that the president has a lot of effect on the economy," Sprick said. "While he doesn't really, he still does have this in direct effect on consumer confidence. ... That's just like a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you think that the government is going to create a favorable atmosphere for you, to a certain extent you sort of create it for yourself."

As far as foreign policy goes, the nation is likely to see more of the same under the Obama administration and would have even if Mitt Romney had been elected, MU political science professor Alfred Drury said.

"Obama, for a Democrat, has been running a very conservative foreign policy and Mitt Romney is a very moderate Republican, so the two are really close to the center," Drury said.

The Obama administration is not likely to commit ground troops in Syria or Iran and would likely not differ much on policy with China, Horner said.

"It's easy to talk tough about China, but they are a massive part of the international economy," Horner said. "Ultimately, it's going to have to be an issue of diplomacy and negotiations. And you can talk tough on the campaign trail, but it is not going to be possible to strong-arm China at this point."

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