January 25, 2013

Obama presses liberal agenda as he starts 2nd term

The Associated Press

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In this Jan. 14, 2013 file photo, President Barack Obama gestures speaks during his final news conference of his first term in the East Room of the White House in Washington. President Barack Obama's fledgling second term agenda so far reads like a progressive wish list. In less than a week, he's vowed to tackle climate change, expand gay rights and protect government entitlements. His administration lifted a ban on women in combat and expanded opportunities for disabled students. Proposals for stricter gun laws have already been unveiled and plans for comprehensive immigration reform, including a pathway to citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants, are coming soon. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Adam Green, co-founder of the political action group Progressive Change Campaign Committee, said that if the president's inaugural address does become a template for his second-term governing strategy, "that will allow the president to win big victories and secure a legacy of bold progressive change that helped millions of Americans."

"We hope he goes that route, and we will proudly rally to his side if he does," Green said.

It remains to be seen how vigorously Obama pursues the agenda items he outlined in his inaugural address. White House officials have already struggled this week to back up his rhetoric with specific policy proposals

Still, people close to the president say he feels emboldened since winning re-election and wants to act quickly on progressive issues that eluded him during his first term. His supporters have also created a campaign spin-off organization to support his second-term agenda.

The outside group, Organizing for Action, will employ many of the same people who led Obama's two presidential bids and will have access to his campaign's voter and donor data. The new group is expected to focus on backing his positions in legislative battles, including gun control and immigration.

Some of what the president may pursue, particularly when it comes to climate change, may be through executive branch actions that don't need congressional approval.

The Pentagon this week acted on its own to lift a ban that kept female service members out of combat positions. And the Education Department unilaterally ordered schools to include students with disabilities in sports programs or provide equal alternative options.

White House officials are scouring rule books for other actions the West Wing and government agencies can take on their own.


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