The lame duck session of Congress proved that our government can work efficiently and quickly to pass legislation. Moving hastily through 2011, the challenges that confront our nation will demand solutions and Congress will be called to act. President Obama’s State of the Union address will grapple with these issues, but where should the United States concentrate its efforts?
The economy is obviously in dire need, with unemployment still hovering around 10 percent. The deficit is the problem with no end, especially when our government reaches its debt ceiling sometime between March and May. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor vowed to not increase the debt ceiling unless major cuts were to be made and reforms put in place.
According to Reuters, Obama claims, “Failing to increase the borrowing limit, currently at $14.294 trillion, would cause the federal government to default on its debt obligations and would be ‘catastrophic’ to U.S. and global markets.” The government should make cuts, but not every social program deserves to be underfunded.
The shrinking middle class, that is becoming the jobless middle class, must be dealt with, an issue deeply connected to fixing the economy. Even though Obama extended the bush era tax cuts for the middle class, they were renewed for upper class citizens as well. We need to see more defiant leadership on Obama’s behalf.
Obama vowed to strengthen long term investments, including education, research and technological innovation, all of which are essential to long term economic prosperity. Let’s hope his promise to defend educational institutions remains true.
An issue that needs significantly more attention is the war in Afghanistan. This is perhaps the most complicated issue our government must tackle and one that requires bipartisan support.
The answers and situations are unclear, but attaining our goal of withdrawing by 2014 is imperative. Our domestic issues are contingent on this particular foreign policy, a policy that drains so many resources.
Health care is another prominent domestic issue. The progress we made in this debate should not be impeded by ignorant politicians and callous policies, which cater to upper class Americans while disregarding the poor. Republicans have already made the symbolic gesture of repealing the act in the House of Representatives.
Change is rarely welcomed here in America, but the reactionary current to health care will fade, as long as the bill remains law. Health care will reduce the deficit and correct the corrupt institution that is dependent upon an individual’s financial status, rather than the medical attention every human deserves.
Those who criticize Obama for his inefficiency and inaction are victims of our cultural amnesia. Obama fulfilled many of his campaign promises, compromised in a partisan environment and continues to make progress after the midterm “shellacking.” 2011 will be a year of conflict, but with conflict comes opportunity.