Election 2008

Jannine B. Hartmann/AP

Four Challenges Facing Our New President

November 05, 2008 10:54 AM
by Emily Coakley
Now that the Election Day 2008 dust has settled, many agree: the work has just begun for President-elect Barack Obama, who faces a number of pressing concerns.

Plenty of Work Ahead

Winning the election was only a small part of the battle. When Obama takes office in January, he has several challenges to tackle, and some of his top priorities include the economy, international relations, America’s ongoing wars and using the new Democrat majority wisely.


CNBC says that the economy is going to be the top priority, and our new president will have to take several steps to get it on the right track. Those steps include getting “an economic plan that everybody agrees on in place and start restoring confidence to the market,” Peter J. Tanous of Lynx Investment Advisory in Washington, D.C., told the news channel.

The new president will also have to fix the housing and banking sectors, and avoid raising taxes.

Tanous, described as an Obama supporter, said, “I hope that, and I frankly fully expect that, all this talk about raising taxes is going to disappear, because raising taxes of any kind in this kind of environment would be catastrophic.”

The Wall Street Journal agrees the economy will be the top priority.

“Few economists predict the world is in for a repeat of the 1930s. But the deepening problems—rising joblessness and home foreclosures, falling consumer spending and tight credit—are prompting calls from businesses and Congress for quick action by the next president to clarify, and begin working on, his economic agenda,” the Journal said.

International Relations

Domestic issues aren’t the only things Obama has to worry about. Nancy Birdsall, head of the Center for Global Development, told Voice of America that the new president will immediately have to deal with fragile or failing states on the world stage.

“The key issue is to provide support—and I’m not just talking about money and foreign aid—to these countries, to make them safer and more secure,” Birdsall said.

People from other countries have also weighed in on what Obama faces.

“He faces the monumental task of mending fences and repairing diplomatic bridges with U.S. allies, who have been alienated by the heavy-handed, ideologically driven Bush administration. At the same time, he must send clear signals to U.S. enemies that he is neither weak nor afraid to use military force when justified,” wrote Andrew Hanon in Canada’s Edmonton Sun.

Wartime Presidency

On RealClearWorld, Michael Eisenstadt said the wartime president will face many challenges in the Middle East.

“The United States must engage the region to an unprecedented extent in order to avert or deter those wars that are avoidable, and prevail (or ensure the success of its allies) in those that prove inescapable,” Eisenstadt wrote. “The next U.S. president will face unprecedented challenges and dangers in the Middle East, with few good options and precious little time to waste. He will have to hit the ground running, since the United States cannot afford a protracted transition between administrations.”

Reading the Public Mandate

The Chicago Tribune said Obama and the new democratic majority must be careful with the new power they’ve been elected to.

“The danger for Democrats is that they may overreach, interpreting what is largely a public disenchantment with the Republicans as a green light to charge forward with ideas that prove controversial and could quickly dissipate the power that seemed within their grasp,” the Tribune said.

Leon Panetta, President Bill Clinton’s former chief of staff, told the Tribune, “There will be a lot of pressure on ... Obama to try to fulfill some of that more liberal agenda. I think that when Americans voted for change, they did not vote for change from one extreme to the other. They voted for working together to solve problems.”

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