Local officials weigh in on Obama's goals for his second term


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President Obama emphasized a variety of issues during his inaugural address Monday, and while he was speaking on a national scale, local and state party officials are looking to the next four years for progress on specific issues: immigration reform and addressing gun violence.

Iowa GOP Chairman A.J. Spiker said he would prefer Obama spend the next four years addressing the deficit, but he believes Republicans will continue to examine and articulate their policy on immigration reform.

“It’s clear our country needs something to address the problem, and there is going to be a great and lengthy debate in the party on that topic,” he said. “There are changing demographics in this country and a state like Texas has a large Hispanic population, and within a few years Texas could be out of play for our party.”

One local party official remained optimistic that Obama could accomplish meaningful progress in these areas despite a Congress that remains split.

“There simply has to be a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million people who have lived here for decades, and the notion of them going anywhere else makes no sense,” said Sue Dvorsky, the chairwoman of the Iowa Democratic Party. “I’m certainly no expert on immigration, but it affects every single state ; this is not a border state [issue] … this is a local issue everywhere.”

Obama outlined his approach to gun violence last week and continued his focus on his recently released proposals and immigration reform during his inaugural address.

“Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity,” Obama said during his address. “Our journey is not complete until all our children, from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know that they are cared for, and cherished, and always safe from harm.”

One local expert was surprised by the president’s recent rhetoric toward Republicans during the “fiscal-cliff ” negotiations, noting it may make it more difficult for Congress to pass Obama’s desired policies.

“It’s surprising he doesn’t reach out more, but he may have to reach out more on an issue like gun control, which he feels is a more winnable issue,” said Tim Hagle, a University of Iowa associate professor of political-science.

After the shooting in Newtown, Conn., Obama has increased his focus on addressing gun violence — an issue Spiker and Dvosrky differ greatly on with the latter preferring “commonsense gun regulations.”

“It was pretty clear when [Obama] was a senator he respected the balance of power, and now he enjoys overreaching it,” Spiker said.

Other legislators pointed out different items the president should focus on in addition to gun control and immigration reform including education reform.

“Instead of having little pockets of STEM or [higher performing] schools, it will be universal,” said Rep. Dave Jacoby, D-Coralville.

One part of Obama’s legacy is that he will be the “education president,” Jacoby said.

Obama targeted a variety of issues during his address, including gay rights, climate change, immigration reform, and a new focus on gun violence. Obama continued to outline some of his goals during his second term in office, but Hagle believes he will have difficulties accomplishing some of his goals and moving forward to his next task: forming his legacy.

“People often say after getting re-elected, presidents start looking towards their legacy,” he said. “…Whatever objectives he has he really needs to get them done this year, because with midterm elections, you don’t know what the landscape will be.”

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