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Tom Murse

Obama's Second Term Agenda in 5 Key Inaugural Quotes

By January 21, 2013

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Barack Obama inaugurationPresident Barack Obama made it pretty clear that he does not intend to succumb to any sort of second-term curse. He spelled out a very specific agenda for the next four years in office, vowing to tackle big-ticket items such as climate change, gun control and immigration reform.

So what else is on Obama's second-term agenda?

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Judging from his inaugural address, these five big things:

1. Global warning

Obama has already promised to meet with scientists, engineers and elected officials to begin the process of addressing global warming. And he agrees with the scientific consensus that human behavior is responsible for the problem. In his inaugural address, he made climate change a centerpiece of his second-term agenda, saying:

"We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms.

"The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it. We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries -- we must claim its promise.

"That is how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure -- our forests and waterways; our croplands and snowcapped peaks. That is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God. That's what will lend meaning to the creed our fathers once declared."

2. Immigration reform

Obama was already on record as favoring a path to citizenship for some 11 million immigrants living in the United States illegally, saying those immigrants should be allowed to live here permanently if they clear background checks, learn English and pay taxes. In his inaugural address, he added:

"Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity; until bright young students and engineers are enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country."

3. Gun control

The president will continue to press for stricter background checks on gun buyers and other measures to crack down on gun violence in the wake of the mass shooting at a school in Newtown, Conn., in December 2012 - a town that Obama called out specifically in his inaugural address. Though Obama did not use the words guns or violence once in his speech, he did say this:

"Our journey is not complete until all our children, from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know that they are cared for, and cherished, and always safe from harm," Obama said."

4. Jobs and the economy

In perhaps his most florid oration, Obama sought to define the government's role in ensuring the middle class thrives, and that the poor and elderly are not left behind. He sought to redefine the "me generation" as the "we generation."

"We, the people, understand that our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it. We believe that America's prosperity must rest upon the broad shoulders of a rising middle class. We know that America thrives when every person can find independence and pride in their work; when the wages of honest labor liberate families from the brink of hardship.

"We are true to our creed when a little girl born into the bleakest poverty knows that she has the same chance to succeed as anybody else, because she is an American, she is free, and she is equal, not just in the eyes of God but also in our own."

5. Spending and debt

While acknowledging the nation's growing debt, Obama made it clear he would not concede on cutting programs that make up the safety nets for the unemployed, the sick, the poor or the elderly - programs that include Medicaid and Medicare.

"We, the people, still believe that every citizen deserves a basic measure of security and dignity. We must make the hard choices to reduce the cost of health care and the size of our deficit. But we reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future.

"For we remember the lessons of our past, when twilight years were spent in poverty, and parents of a child with a disability had nowhere to turn. We do not believe that in this country, freedom is reserved for the lucky, or happiness for the few. We recognize that no matter how responsibly we live our lives, any one of us, at any time, may face a job loss, or a sudden illness, or a home swept away in a terrible storm.

"The commitments we make to each other -- through Medicare, and Medicaid, and social security -- these things do not sap our initiative; they strengthen us. They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great."

Over the next four years, we will find out if Congress agrees.

[President Barack Obama delivers his inaugural address on Jan. 21, 2013, in Washington, D.C./Getty Images News]

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