Moving forward


First, I would like to congratulate the president on winning the election. It was a hard-fought campaign. The American people have spoken. Now it is over. It is time for us to coalesce and move forward. Despite the president’s well-intentioned words about unity in his acceptance speech, the country is still very much divided. The president has earned the privilege of trust from the American people to lead and advocate for real solutions to our country’s big problems, and we should expect no less. Now, looking ahead, what should be on the president’s domestic to-do list for his second term?

As the “fiscal cliff” quickly approaches, the president needs to bargain, tackle the deficit and put the country on a path toward fiscal stability by focusing on tax and entitlement reforms, the effect of which would lead to more jobs for graduates and young people and more take-home pay. This is the core issue.  Our government is living on borrowed money. The current path guarantees lower standards of living for all of us down the road. If we think this doesn’t affect us, then we are being delusional.

The president needs to live up to his higher education target for 2020 by working aggressively with policymakers, parents and universities to solve the nation’s higher education crisis. A study published last year made the alarming estimate that well over a third of college students graduate with no appreciable gains in reading, writing or quantitative skills. The cost of higher education is going up while learning has stagnated. In order to remain competitive, higher education requires competition, choice and accountability in order to lower costs and make higher education more personalized, accessible and focused on learning.

The president needs to focus on comprehensive immigration reform and decide once and for all the status and future of undocumented students. A path to citizenship need not be amnesty. There are areas for agreement in immigration. Revamping immigration would mean more secure communities, especially for border states such as Texas, and more economic activities. Current policy puts us at an economic disadvantage. We need to import more highly skilled workers from abroad to meet the demand of our economy, especially considering that we have a gap in the workforce in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. The president will have an opportunity to lead on this issue.

While these are the tasks I believe the president needs to accomplish in his second term, the reality of a divided government means more gridlock and theatrics. The president has a unique opportunity to govern from the center. There is no need for him to pander to his former progressive allies. Instead, he needs to work with Democrats, Republicans, and Independents to put us on a path to prosperity. That, if accomplished, will be Barack Obama’s biggest legacy. One is allowed to be optimistic, I believe. 

Zeng is communications director for  UT College Republicans.