Big Picture: Obama Claims Victory - But What Comes Next?

Even before President Barack Obama's second term officially begins it is clear that he will be facing significant challenges and a very divided Congress. The challenges ahead include the fiscal cliff and efforts to trim back the nation's entitlement programs.   

The Wall Street Journal: Obama Seizes Another Chance
The Barack Obama who won a second term Tuesday was a different candidate from the one swept into power four years ago on promises of hope and change. Instead, he has envisioned a second term that would bring a handful of solid victories ... He wants to protect and implement laws from his first term, particularly his health-care reform and new financial regulations. Most urgent will be deficit talks that will begin almost immediately in hopes of keeping the nation from going over the so-called fiscal cliff (Meckler, 11/7).

The New York Times: News Analysis: Electorate Reverts To A Partisan Divide As Obama's Support Narrows
With voters worn by hard times yet many of them hopeful of better times ahead, Americans reverted to more traditional lines compared with the broader-based coalition that made Barack Obama president four years ago. He was seen generally as more empathetic and better able to handle Medicare and an international crisis. The two were about even when it came to who was better able to handle the economy and the federal budget deficit. ... Mr. Obama won most voters who named foreign policy or health care as their top concern (Calmes and Thee-Brenan, 11/6).

The New York Times: News Analysis: Question For The Victor: How Far Do You Push?
The champagne bottles from victory celebrations in Chicago will barely be emptied before Mr. Obama has to begin answering that question. The coming end-of-the-year fiscal cliff prompted by trillions of dollars of automatic tax increases and spending cuts could force Mr. Obama to define priorities that will shape the rest of his presidency … Mr. Obama seemed to address this tension in the closing speeches of his campaign. “I want to see more cooperation in Washington,” he said in Mentor, Ohio. “But if the price of peace in Washington” means slashing student aid, reversing his health care program or cutting people from Medicaid, he added, "that’s not a price I’ll pay" (Baker, 11/7).

Los Angeles Times: New Analysis: Maybe Stalemate's Latest Victory Means Voters Will Finally Win
Obama offered mixed signals in his final weeks of campaigning. He voiced support for compromise, but also pledged toughness ... "I'll work with anybody, of any party, to move this country forward," he said in his final campaign speech, Monday night in Des Moines. But, he added, there are "some principles you got to fight for. If the price of peace in Washington is cutting deals to kick students off of financial aid, or get rid of funding for Planned Parenthood, or let insurance companies discriminate against kids with preexisting conditions, or eliminate healthcare for millions on Medicaid who are poor, or elderly, or disabled — I won't pay that price" (Lauter, 11/7).

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