Heritage: The President’s Top 5 Immediate Problems
Now that President Obama will never face re-election again, it is time for the campaigning to end. Perpetual political rhetoric and promises do not matter any more. Action—and leadership—are sorely needed on pressing issues that threaten the United States. America’s people are under threats to their livelihoods, their protection, and their freedom. For some of these, deadlines for action have already come and gone, making them more dire than ever.
Here are the top five problems that require the President’s immediate attention.
1. Massive Tax Increases Scheduled
When the chairman of the Federal Reserve says the nation is headed over a cliff, the President should take notice. A total of nearly $500 billion in tax increases—old tax policies expiring and new ones taking effect—is scheduled to hit on January 1. This “Taxmageddon” fiscal-end-of-days scenario will hit individuals and their families, struggling small businesses and investors alike. So much for creating jobs. The Congressional Budget Office, which does not normally forecast recessions, has said that without some action to change our direction, the country is heading straight for another recession in 2013. As Heritage’s J.D. Foster wrote, “If a slowdown or even a recession unfolds as CBO predicts, the blame will lie with President Obama.”
2. Cuts to the U.S. Military
Through a legislative process called sequestration, the President and his allies in Congress thought they could secure tax increases by holding America’s military hostage. So they programmed massive cuts to our defenses to take effect in January. Using the military as a political weapon is wrong, and nothing has been done to prevent these harmful cuts. While our enemies build up their weapons programs and terrorists target Americans around the globe, the U.S. is preparing to radically downsize the military—all because the President and liberals in Congress want to raise taxes.
So far, the President hasn’t achieved his tax hike goal. If the military cuts are allowed to go forward, it will devastate our defenses. Contrary to the political rhetoric, Washington leaders could fix this without raising taxes.
3. The Middle East
It’s easy in a campaign to say you’d rather focus on “nation building here at home.” But the Middle East is ablaze with conflict, and that is not going to be put on hold for the President to focus on other issues. According to some reports, Iran could be able to arm a nuclear bomb within the next few months.
Heritage’s James Carafano writes today: “Tehran’s nuclear ambitions, protests in the Gulf States, an increasingly unsteady Egypt, terrorists in the Sahel—these are all distinct problems, yet each has the potential to cascade throughout the region and beyond.”
To begin, the President needs to come clean about the intelligence regarding the terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, that killed the U.S. ambassador and others.
There is more than enough evidence that the President’s counterterrorism strategy, though less than two years old, has come to the end of its life. That strategy focused on “decapitating” al-Qaeda. It didn’t work because al-Qaeda is really just a piece of a global Islamist insurgency. Unlike a drug cartel, it can’t be taken down by just taking out the leadership. Unless the President changes course soon, terrorists will have more sanctuaries by 2016 than they had in 2010.
5. Obamacare’s Mandate Threatening Religious Liberty
Just a few days ago, a second federal district court issued a preliminary injunction on behalf of a family-owned business against the Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate under Obamacare. The HHS mandate forces nearly all employers to pay for abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization, and contraceptives in their employee health coverage, regardless of religious objections. It disregards conscience and steamrolls religious freedom: Religious charities and family-owned businesses that object are forced to pay massive fines for non-compliant plans—up to $100 per day per employee. For a company like Hobby Lobby with more than 500 stores, that fine would amount to $1.3 million per day.
No wonder more than 100 plaintiffs have joined legal challenges to the mandate, which went into effect on August 1. As employers reach their health plan annual renewal date, they’ll be forced to comply. This is only one of the many obtrusive parts of Obamacare, but it is an immediate problem for employers—costly, demoralizing, and a direct attack on religious freedom.
Time to get to work, Mr. President.