Obama Second Term Shifts

Is Obama Retooling Or Retreating?
Obama’s selection of Sen. Chuck Hagel to lead the Defense Department and Sen. John Kerry to run the State Department are two reasons some outside the United States are concerned, writes Gideon Rachman in The Financial Times.

“The effects of a less interventionist US could be dramatic for the rest of  the world. European leaders, who spent much of the Bush years complaining about  American activism are now, ironically enough, worrying about the opposite  problem – a US that sits on the sidelines and lets problems fester,” Rachman contends.

Others view a second term as less of a retreat from the world stage as an adoption of a more tempered strategy reminiscent of Dwight Eisenhower and driven by events in his first term.

“Bitter experience — from getting the most modest arms control agreement through the Senate his first year, trying and failing to engage leaders in Iran and North Korea, discovering his lack of leverage over Egypt, Pakistan and Israel, and finding Afghanistan to be a costly waste of American lives and resources — is driving him to a strategy reminiscent of one of his Republican predecessors, President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

“It is a strategy in which Mr. Obama will try to redirect world events subtly, rather than turning to big treaties, big military interventions and big aid packages,” reports The New York Times.

Obama Inaugural Speech Outlines Activist Government
President Bill Clinton famously declared “the era of big government is over.” To listen to President Barack Obama’s second inaugural address, it has been revived.

Phillip Klein wrote in The Washington Times that Obama sent a rhetorical message that he will not take bold action on entitlement spending. This view was echoed in The Wall Street Journal.

“He also vigorously defended social safety-net programs, including Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. GOP leaders have proposed cutting the programs in recent budget negotiations, and some Democrats have worried that Mr. Obama would agree, given that he has said he is open to such changes as part of a broad deficit-reduction deal that includes tax increases,” reported the WSJ.

Focus On Deficit Is Misguided, Says Former Treasury Secretary
Former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers argues that the nation ‘s focus on the budget deficit beyond all else is wrong-headed.

“As important as avoiding the repression of budget deficits is ensuring that the focus on the budget deficit does not come at the expense of other equally real deficits. Interest rates in the United States and much of the industrialized world are remarkably low. In real terms, governments’ cost of borrowing recently has been negative for horizons as long as 20 years. No one who travels abroad from the United States can doubt that this country has an enormous infrastructure deficit,” argues Summers.

Israelis Go To Polls, Netanyahu Expected To Win 3rd Term Israelis headed to the polls on Tuesday to cast their ballots in an election that is likely to result in a third term for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

As The Jerusalem Post notes, this election will be the first in many years dominated by domestic, rather than foreign, issues. And while the result is not in question, Netanyahu will face challenges in forming a coalition government.

It does remain unclear how the 45 seats of the center-left will be divided and which of those parties − Labor, Hatnuah, Yesh Atid or Kadima − will be part of the next government, according to Haaretz.

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