Obama Facing Big Challenges at Beginning of Second Term

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

With a second term ahead of him, President Barack Obama faces the urgent task of working with Congress to address an impending financial crisis that economists say could send the country back into recession.

Automatic tax increases and across-the-board spending cuts known as the "fiscal cliff" are set to take effect January 1, unless there's a budget deal to avoid it.

Voters gave Obama four more years in office, but also elected a divided Congress, with Democrats still in control of the Senate and Republicans in charge in the House.

While Obama told supporters in his election night acceptance speech, "You made your voice heard," House Speaker John Boehner says voters issued a dual mandate "for both parties to find common ground" and take steps to help the economy grow and create jobs.

But Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell is sounding less conciliatory. He says voters have not endorsed what he calls the "failures" and "excesses of the president's first term."

Newly elected Democrats are signaling they want to see a compromise. Sen.-elect Tim Kaine of Virginia says voters sent a message they want "cooperative government."

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