WASHINGTON: Fresh from a decisive re-election win, President Barack Obama returned from the campaign trail yesterday with little time to savour victory, facing urgent economic challenges, a looming fiscal showdown and a still-divided Congress able to block his every move.
Obama defeated Republican challenger Mitt Romney on Tuesday night in a gruelling presidential race and used his acceptance speech in front of a huge cheering crowd in Chicago to strike a conciliatory note toward his political opponents.
But in the cold light of the 2012 election’s morning-after, it was clear that even though voters have endorsed a second Obama term, the president will have a hard time translating that into a mandate to push forward with his agenda.
His most immediate concern is confronting a “fiscal cliff” of automatic tax increases and spending cuts that could crush the US economy recovery — a prospect that weighed heavily on global financial markets yesterday and sent Wall Street stocks into a post-election swoon.
Voters chose to preserve the status quo of divided government in Washington. Obama’s fellow Democrats retained control of the Senate and Republicans kept their majority in the House of Representatives, giving them power to curb the president’s legislative ambitions on everything from taxes to immigration reform.
This is the political reality that Obama — who won a far narrower victory over Romney than his historic election as the country’s first black president in 2008 — faces in Washington. Reuters
See also pages 10 &15