Hankyung, South Korea
Obama’s Rugged Path to Re-election
By Chang-Jun Kim
Translated By Jiyoung Han
22 April 2012
Edited by Katerina Kobylka
South Korea - Hankyung - Original Article (Korean)
American politics is heating up in the face of elections. This year, both presidential and congressional elections will occur at the same time. Elections are officially held on the first Tuesday of November; this year’s voting day falls on the 6th.
Should the incumbent president run for re-election, it is customary for his party not to challenge his bid as their nominee. Thus the Democrats sat back this year and watched as GOP presidential hopefuls largely duked it out among themselves.
At first glance, the likelihood of President Obama’s re-election seems high. However, that is not necessarily the case. Of America’s 43 past presidents, only 13 have been re-elected. What of Barack Obama, one of the most centrist Democratic presidents? As a Republican, my hopes are behind the GOP nomination of Mitt Romney. Yet, I do not dislike Obama, particularly as he has demonstrated a high level of respect for the Republic of Korea.
Unfortunately, many difficult obstacles lie before Obama. First are the failed policies toward North Korea. Despite firm U.S. warnings, North Korea pushed ahead with its missile launch. This flagrant disregard was seen by the GOP as an insult to Obama. A few days ago, the UN Security Council issued a unanimously approved statement that sharply condemned the North Korean rocket. There is nonetheless a high possibility that the condemnation will end with mere words yet again. The GOP will undoubtedly attack Obama’s lukewarm stance on this issue.
A second obstacle is the General Services Administration (GSA) scandal. At a convention it recently hosted in Las Vegas, the GSA was found to have spent $146,527 of a total $823,000 event budget on personnel meal expenses alone. This certainly exceeded the daily meal allowance of $30 per staff member. As public outcry surged to criticize this waste of taxpayer money, the GSA head tendered her resignation. A hearing is also scheduled to further investigate the misuse of funds. Republicans will wield this incident as part of their strategy to prevent Obama’s re-election.
A third obstacle is federal budget deliberations. Republicans will wage total war on this point until the decisive moment of the elections. Even the Democrats in Congress have begun to turn their backs on the increasing budget deficit. In an embarrassing turn of events for President Obama last year, around 60 Democrat lawmakers sided with the GOP on budget issues.
The biggest obstacle is that the U.S. economy has yet to fully escape the clutches of a recession. Although the current administration insists that the economy is slowly recovering, recent data indicates otherwise. Projections have this year’s economic growth rate only at a sluggish 2 per cent, with high unemployment rate persisting at 8 per cent. Nor are there signs of a real estate market revival.
Moreover, Obama’s active push to tax the wealthy under the “Buffett Rule” adds fire to further political controversy. The majority of Republican congressmen view the Buffet tax as a penalty against hard-earned money. Obama’s re-election path looks rugged indeed.
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