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The Second Time Around: Things to Watch in Term No. 2

Fiscal cliff. Hugs with Boehner. Immigration reform. Climate change. And Clinton payback.

by
Bridget Johnson

Bio

November 8, 2012 - 4:59 pm
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But immigration reform is a second-term issue on which Republicans could not just steer the direction, but steal the president’s thunder.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) had been drafting a DREAM Act alternative before Obama issued his deferred action directive to the Department of Homeland Security over the summer. A Republican who was working on something similar in the House, Rep. David Rivera (R-Fla.), was defeated Tuesday.

Rubio quickly issued a statement upon confirmation of the presidential election results that noted “the conservative movement should have particular appeal to people in minority and immigrant communities who are trying to make it, and Republicans need to work harder than ever to communicate our beliefs to them.”

“I look forward to working on these goals with my new and returning colleagues in Congress and hope the President will get behind our efforts,” Rubio said.

If Rubio introduces a DREAM Act of his own with wide GOP and some Democratic support, he could steal not just thunder but votes — and, with a comprehensive economic and education message to the Latino community, start reversing that downward trend in the Hispanic vote.

OBAMACARE

Obama’s pet legislation has survived a Supreme Court challenge, numerous recall efforts in the House, and a repeal vow from his challenger for the Oval Office.

Boehner told ABC News that while the House may chip at parts of the law such as IPAB, the election changed any plans for full repeal. “Obamacare is the law of the land,” he said.

State governors are split on whether they’ll set up the healthcare exchanges that were a key provision of the law, though: Ahead of a Nov. 16 deadline, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell has said yes; Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon and Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback say no.

In a second term, will Obama try to toughen ObamaCare and put even more control in the federal government’s hand? With a resistant House for at least his first two years, changes might come straight from the executive branch instead of going through proper legislative channels — branded, of course, with Obama’s “We Can’t Wait” policy initiative tag.

ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENT

In his victory speech early Wednesday morning, Obama referenced an issue he didn’t exactly touch on the campaign trail: climate change. “We want our children to live in an America that isn’t burdened by debt, that isn’t weakened by inequality, that isn’t threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet,” he said, adding that a goal is “freeing ourselves from foreign oil.”

While the war on coal did make it onto the campaign trail, the president tried to deflect attention from his green-energy pursuits and gave copious public praise to domestic oil and gas production.

Considering the scant attention that’s been paid to an Interior Department run amok in Term No. 1, it’s not surprising Obama didn’t get called out more on his “all of the above” energy strategy which, as Republicans wryly note, pays little attention to the energy sources below ground. It will also be a signal that movement is imminent here if Obama shuffles Solyndra-ized Energy Secretary Steven Chu out the door and replaces him with someone who has experience in brokering energy bills, e.g. former Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.). And if Obama names Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) to be secretary of State, he’s got a huge global-warming alarmist in place to push climate agreements on the international stage.

CITIZENS UNITED

Democrats haven’t forgotten about this defeat and haven’t abandoned their quest to require greater disclosure of campaign donations. Don’t expect movement on this issue to be on the top of the list — to the dismay of Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) — but expect a renewed effort to run around the Supreme Court’s campaign finance ruling within the next four years.

THE CLINTON FACTOR

Who believes that President Clinton would do something — like, perhaps, jaunting around the country to get a Dem in trouble re-elected — for nothing?

As David Axelrod said on Piers Morgan’s show last night, Clinton was “the most valuable player in this campaign.”

It’s hard to believe that all of Clinton’s work, though, was simply because “he believes that there were two choices here and one led us forward and one led us back.”

“And so there is a strong sense of gratitude and I think the president is looking forward to calling on President Clinton in the future for advice council and assistance as we want — as we move this country forward,” Axelrod said.

Hillary Clinton has reportedly wanted to leave the Obama administration for a while, so her husband wasn’t helping Obama out to score her a prime position in his cabinet. And one can’t imagine Bill wanting to serve under Barack, so what’s next?

If Hillary wants to run in four years, you can expect that Bill will have his boot on Obama’s neck to avoid screw-ups or shifts that could cost the Democrats the White House. Does this mean that policy pushes in term No. 2 may be less drastic, less leftist than expected thanks to Clinton payback?

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Bridget Johnson is a career journalist whose news articles and opinion columns have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe. Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor at The Hill, where she wrote The World from The Hill column on foreign policy. Previously she was an opinion writer and editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico and more, and has myriad television and radio credits as a commentator. Bridget is Washington Editor for PJ Media.
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