Struggling America faces crossroads
Updated: 2013-01-22 22:12
The United States does not lack strength, but it does lack a mechanism to coalesce that strength, and it has no lack of ways out of its predicaments, but the executive ability to implement them, says an editorial in People's Daily. Excerpts:
Barack Obama has been sworn in to a second term as US president. Before then, congressional Republicans announced they will present a bill to increase the debt limit for another three months. This can be seen as an unexpected "bonus" for Obama's inauguration. But the "gift" will not lead to an atmosphere of cooperation.
As economist Paul Krugman has pointed out, the "fiscal cliff" battle ended in a modest tactical victory for the White House, but that victory could all too easily turn into defeat in just a few weeks.
The French daily newspaper Les Echos warned that in the coming several weeks, Obama must obtain the support of Republicans to raise the federal debt ceiling, or the US will be unable to pay its bills. It's probably time that his opponents begin to make reprisals.
In American history, there is no lack of presidents who eventually regret for life various scandals or decisions in their second terms. So if Obama wants to make a difference over the next four years, he must spare no effort to revive the US economy, which also is the recipe Obama got from American top historians to avoid the "second-term curse".
To this end, Obama must make efforts to expand the achievements that have already marked his first term: sustaining the economic recovery; ensuring the implementation of the nation's new health care law; and strengthening financial supervision.
Obama and his new team have to focus on the nation's fiscal issues to address the debt and deficit and also must accumulate enough political capital to deal with corporate tax reform, gun control, immigration policy reform and climate change.
Moreover, the partisan divide will continue to hamper Obama's initiatives. Recent polls by the National Broadcasting Co and Wall Street Journal show that more than 70 percent of Americans are dissatisfied with the current economic situation, and only about a third believe that Obama has the ability to promote more-robust economic growth.
Countries around the world also worry about Washington's decision-making and executive ability, as well as the negative consequences of US economic policy mistakes to the global economy.
If the country is incapable of curing its domestic economic woes, will the US take a more conservative trade policy? Will the US become more active in using regional traditional contradictions to profit and promote its Asia-Pacific rebalancing strategy? Will a more inward-looking America ignore the reform of global economic governance? Will the US, with a slower pace of development, become more anxious about emerging economies?
Today the US is indeed facing a lot of tough problems. In fact, the United States does not lack strength, but a mechanism to coalesce that strength; the US has no lack of ways out of its predicaments, but the executive ability to implement them. Americans do not lack intelligence and wisdom, but they use them more on partisan arguments rather than on strengthening collaboration. Whether the US will go downhill depends on Americans themselves.
It is really not easy for Obama to avoid the "second-term curse" while the key lies in his wisdom to manage America's political and economic structural problems. Shouldering the responsibilities, rather than shirking them, is not only the expectation of Americans but also that of people all over the world.