Obama starts second term

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Obama

The news Monday was mostly all about President Obama’s inauguration and his speech outlining plans for his second administration. Many of the issues that the country will face will have an impact on businesses, including climate change, gun control, tax reform and creating a more equitable society.

While the story is mostly political and national, the president’s speech and the tone he struck will have an effect on boardrooms as well. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the inaugural coverage.

Here are a few details from the New York Times:

Following an election dominated by a clash of economic philosophies, Mr. Obama used his second Inaugural Address to renew his demands for a new national focus on the widening gulf between rich and poor. He called it “our generation’s task” to make the values of “life and liberty” real for every American.

Four years after Mr. Obama delivered an inaugural speech during a time of economic freefall that limited his ambitions, the 15-minute address on Monday was a call to action on behalf of the middle class by an impatient politician. Mr. Obama declared that the country was “made for this moment,” but he acknowledged that the often divisive and combative politics of today have sometimes fallen short of the size of the country’s problems.

Bloomberg pulled out these quotes from the President’s speech about government spending, a debate that will need to be resolved this week:

“The commitments we make to each other — through Medicare, and Medicaid, and Social Security — these things do not sap our initiative; they strengthen us,” Obama said. “They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great.”

His speech highlighted the twin challenges Obama sees for himself in his second term: guarding mainstay Democratic programs while pressing forward on more modern goals, including expanded rights for gays, immigrants and women.

As part of their coverage, the Wall Street Journal did a round up of issues likely to come up in the President’s second term. Read the full article, but here are a few excerpts.

Tax Reform

House and Senate committee leaders say they will try to pass far-reaching legislation to overhaul the tax code this year, but prospects appear to be dimming amid continuing partisan budget battles and limited attention from the Obama administration so far.

Members of the GOP-run House Ways and Means Committee and the Democratic-controlled Senate Finance Committee are aiming to produce bills that revamp the tax system, lower rates for businesses and individuals, and narrow tax breaks. Both also say the goal is to increase economic efficiency and make U.S. businesses more competitive globally.

Immigration

Four years ago, advocates thought they were on the brink of passing legislation overhauling the nation’s immigration system. They wound up disappointed.

Now, political forces in both parties appear to be aligning. Mr. Obama, who didn’t make an immigration-law overhaul a priority in his first term, has put it high on his agenda. And the November election, in which Mr. Obama overwhelmingly won the Hispanic vote, prompted many in the GOP to conclude they must change their rhetoric and policies.

Gun Violence

In the wake of the school massacre in Newtown, Conn., Mr. Obama is pushing for the biggest changes to gun laws since the early 1990s. He unilaterally launched an effort to update records in the system used to screen gun-buyers and restarted federal research into gun violence. But he’s acknowledged that his most consequential proposals require congressional approval—extending background checks to all gun buyers, banning high-capacity magazines and banning some semiautomatic rifles that are often called assault weapons.

While not much of the coverage was explicitly about business, the beginning of a new administration will touch everyone. The agenda will affect many industries and have implications for everyone from CEOs to workers.