U.S. President Barack Obama’s election to a second term is in jeopardy unless the economy improves, jobs are created, and the US budget deficit is reduced.
Political analysts Stuart Rothenberg, publisher of the Rothenberg Political Report and John Fortier, Director of the Democracy Project at the Bipartisan Policy Center, agree that as an incumbent, President Obama possesses a built-in advantage over his Republican adversaries.
But they also warn that Obama is vulnerable if, by the summer of 2012, unemployment continues to hover around eight to nine percent and if a key component of his signature domestic policy initiative, the health care reform law, is struck down as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.
Fortier says that at barely fifty percent, President Obama’s current approval ratings are in a “danger zone.” In a recent televised debate, the seven leading contenders for the Republican presidential nomination focused their criticism on President Obama rather than highlight policy differences among themselves.
However, as Stuart Rothenberg points out, one “big name candidate,” has yet to emerge in the Republican field, notwithstanding the presumptive frontrunner, Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts.
John Fortier believes that Rick Perry, the governor of the large southern state of Texas, who is popular with conservative Tea Party supporters, may yet enter the race.
Finally, there is the looming question of raising the U.S. government $14.29 trillion debt ceiling.
If Congress does not raise the ceiling by the August 2 deadline, Treasury Department officials have said the government could begin defaulting on its obligations, which they argue, could have “catastrophic” consequences.
According to Stuart Rothenberg, Republicans, who control the House of Representatives, do not believe that this cut-off date is real and will not vote in favor of raising the debt ceiling unless they obtain significant spending cuts from Democrats and the White House.
Most liberal Democrats on the other hand, take the deadline very seriously.
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke maintains that, despite the need for spending cuts, raising the debt ceiling should be de-linked from other deficit reduction decisions.
Press reports indicate that Chairman Bernanke has pleaded with the Congress not to use the debt limit as a “bargaining chip.”
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