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President Barack Obama's Second Term Agenda

5 Key Priorities for the White House


President Barack Obama's second-term agenda included boosting the economy, tackling key environmental issues and reining in the nation's growing debt. But in one key area the president's goal for a second term was defined by national tragedy: one of the worst school shootings in the nation's history.

See also: Obama's Second Term Nominees"

Here are five key items on Obama's second-term agenda:

1. Gun Control

President Barack Obama pauses as he makes a statement at the State Dining Room of the White House
Alex Wong/Getty Images News/Getty Images

The initial focus of Obama's second-term agenda is gun control, an issue that had not been a the forefront of the president's policy proposals during his first four years in office. But the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in December 2012 captivated the nation and renewed calls for new restrictions on certain times of guns and ammunition.

"While we may not be able to prevent every senseless act of violence in this country, if there is even one thing we can do to reduce it – if even one life can be saved – we’ve got an obligation to try," Obama said during a radio address in January, 2013. The administration was proposing a series of measures, including stricter background checks on those buying guns, to curb violence.

2. Immigration Reform

The issue of immigration reform was on the list of things Obama wanted to accomplish during his first term in office, but he admitting failure in being able to persuade Congress, particularly Republicans, to his side. He described the lack of reform as his "biggest failure so far" following his first term.

In particular, the president favors a clear path to citizenship for some 11 million immigrants living in the United States illegally. He has said those immigrants should be allowed to live here permanently if they clear background checks, learn English and pay taxes.

3. Climate Change

Obama vowed to address the most contentious environmental issue on the planet, the causes of global warming, during his second term. He promised to meet with scientists, engineers and elected officials to begin a national discussion about how to address global warming. The president made clear he believes human behavior is responsible for the problem.

"What we do know is the temperature around the globe is increasing. Faster than was predicted even ten years ago. We do know that the Arctic ice cap is melting, faster than was predicted even five years ago. We do know that there have been extraordinarily - there - there have been an extraordinarily large number of severe weather events here in North America, but also around the globe," Obama said after winning a second term.
"And I am a firm believer that climate change is real. That it is impacted by human behavior, and carbon emissions. And as a consequence, I think we’ve got an obligation to future generations to do something about it."

4. Jobs

Immediately after winning election to a second term in Election 2012, Obama made boosting the economy and job creation in particular centerpieces of his second-term agenda when he said: "I’ve got one mandate. I’ve got a mandate to help middle-class families and families that are working hard to get into the middle class."

"Right now, our economy is still recovering from a very deep and damaging crisis, so our top priority has to be jobs and growth," Obama said after winning re-election. "We’ve got to build on the progress that we’ve made because this nation succeeds when we’ve got a growing, thriving middle class."

Obama specifically said he would work to "reward" manufacturers and small businesses that create jobs in the United States instead of shipping them overseas. He also called for better workforce training, increased spending on infrastructure such as the nation's crumbling network of roads and bridges, and developing sources of clean energy while keeping the nation at the forefront of research and technology.

5. Debt Reduction

The biggest obstacle threatening Obama's second term agenda, of course, is the renewed focus on the national debt and the battle over the debt ceiling, the statutory limit on the amount of U.S federal debt held by the public and the government's own accounts.

Obama and Congress barely managed to avoid sending the nation hurtling over the so-called fiscal cliff, which would have triggered deep spending cuts known as sequestration, beginning in 2013. But they have failed to reach a "grand bargain" over spending and debt reduction.

Obama has called for tax reform measures such as restricting tax deductions for wealthier Americans and closing tax loopholes but has expressed opposition to spending cuts that would hurt middle-class households, senior citizens or families who have disabled children.

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