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Sat., Sep. 5
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Second term


Fresh from his re-election victory, President Barack Obama now has the second term before him and the opportunity to chart a course for the next four years.

He has gained invaluable experience as America’s president and also as a candidate on the campaign trail. What better place to hear Americans’ dreams and concerns?

America faces tough problems that the administration cannot solve alone. Mr. Obama needs to make a supreme effort to work with Congress and the leaders of both parties. They need to reciprocate. Americans have said repeatedly that they want their leaders to govern more responsibly, to solve thorny issues by working together.

That is a huge leadership test, but the administration has staffing challenges for the second term as well. He will need to replace Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, all of whom are expected to retire. Surely there will be others.

In his acceptance speech early Wednesday, Mr. Obama spoke of “reducing our deficit, reforming our tax code, fixing our immigration system and freeing ourselves from foreign oil.” Each one is a tall order.

Solving the fiscal cliff must be a high and immediate priority. If not addressed in 2012, a series of tax increases and spending cuts will go into effect in the new year, harming many American households and businesses. If the deficit is reduced suddenly, recession and a higher jobless rate would likely result, the Congressional Budget Office said this past week.

The Affordable Care Act must be implemented. Businesses and individuals are uncertain as to how it will work. More clarity is needed.

The foreign policy agenda is full as well. The Syrian situation only gets worse. Iran is rattling the saber. The relationship with Israel needs to improve. Questions must be answered about the raid on the U.S. Consulate in Libya. The U.S.-Russia relationship is prickly. Europe’s economy remains shaky. Trade challenges with China persist as the United States seeks to expand its influence in Asia.

As U.S. troops leave Afghanistan. will that country maintain its security? The Arab Spring has presented new challenges with Islamist-led governments. Our alliance with Pakistan is rocky.

The list goes on. America’s world leadership is needed. After congratulating President Obama on his re-election, British Prime Minister David Cameron said that “one of the first things I want to talk to Barack about” is the crisis in Syria.

At home, the economy and jobs are prime concerns. New York City and New Jersey face an enormous rebuilding task following Superstorm Sandy.

The second-term agenda is daunting. It will require much skill on the president’s part, but he cannot do it alone.

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