Obama’s second term challenges

Newly reelected with a confortable margin, Barack Obama will soon be confronting some dunting domestic and foreign policy challenges with a big portion of his population getting increasingly impatient.

The voters who gave him four more years in office, also elected a divided congress with republicans keeping the house majority whereas democrats retain control of the senate.

The number one issue that he’ll have to tackle will be the so called “fiscal cliff” which a term used to describe that if the current laws remain unchanged as of January second, would result in spending cuts and tax increase. The spending cuts would be the result of the Budget Control act, a bi partisan law passed by congress and signed by the president, whose purpose was to control the deficit, and tax increase due to the expiration of the Bush tax cut. A combination of both would probably lead to another recession say the analysts.

Aside from the fiscal cliff, the new Obama administration will still be facing a high unemployment of 7.8 nationally and a 16 trillions debt, 30 % of which is owned by foreigners. Also the baby boomers are soon retiring which will cause medicare and social security price to soar.

The immigration reform would probably be an easy issue for Obama. With the republicans losing the latino vote by more than 40 %, many conservative voices like Hannity and Krauthamman are calling for a compromise on this issue by giving a path to citizenship and /or amnesty.

Although economic issues dominated the presidential race, foreign policy will get back to the fore front since the world keeps turning with its series of unresolved issues.


The most critical issue will be Iran and its pursue of nuclear weapon capabilities with no sign of tracking back. The crippling sanctions imposed on Tahran during the first term of the Obama administration had a meaningful impact on the Iranian economy that have seen its currency plunging by 40% , high inflation, drop in oil exports from 9.8 billions in 2011 to 2.9 a year later. Food and medications are getting scarce and more expensive.

What still remain to be seen is whether ordinary citizens in Iran will be blaming the Islamic leadership in Tahran for the situation or will be put all the blame on the West and particularly the United States. And what if the Iranian economy crashes but the regime remain unharmed and pursuing its nuclear program?


The Obama administration will probably have to reassess its position on Syria where the civil war is worsening and threats to spills over neighboring countries. The Obama administration have been acting behind the scene, not officially arming rebel groups but supporting regional allies to pour weapons into their hands. President Obama resisted pressure from many sides to supply heavy weapons to the rebels, a non homogenous, unorganized and partly dangerous group linked to the jihadi movement.  A victory by Assad will strengthen its Iranian ally and keeping the situation as it is with a death toll mounting to 30,000 will be perceived as an Obama failure.

Arab Spring

The United States has originally backed the Arab revolutions and has been supportive of their democratic transition. A second Obama administration will still be engaged in the Arab spring by providing more assistance to these countries to built their economy.  As for Tunisia, the United States has been developing programs in support of the transition, training people and investing in businesses. It has committed $190 million dollars in total to Tunisia, such assistance is mainly aimed at expanding economic and employment opportunity throughout the country, especially for the youth.

This assistance should however be calibrated based on these countries commitment to human, women, minority rights and abidance by the rule of law.  The threat that these countries transform into religious theocracy is still looming though.

Israeli Palestinian conflict

This 60 years conflict will not be solved, in my view, during the second term of the Obama Administration. As long as Benjamin Netanyahu is in office and the Palestinians are divided between Fatah and Hamas, there is no much to be done. It is hard for Obama to succeed when Clinton has failed under a much flexible leadership on both sides.  Unless the situation on the ground decides otherwise, this administration is not keen to solve the issue.


by Amina Laouni

Amina Laouani is a member of the Tunisian American Young Professionals (TAYP), and an active member of the 2008 and 2012 Obama Campaigns in North Carolina