U.S. President Obama is nearing his second term after winning over challenger Mitt Romney earlier this month. That means looking at cabinet shuffles -- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been wanting to leave for a while, and others will be making a move out as well -- and crises popping up in the lame-duck congressional session even before inauguration. Voice of America summarizes some things to watch in the second term:
President Obama's most important priority as he starts his second term is dealing with the so-called 'fiscal cliff' -- $600 billion worth of tax increases and spending cuts that will go effect on January 1st unless Congress can reach a compromise to cut the budget deficit.
A lot of pundits believe the outlines of a mega-deal are taking shape but there is a long way to go before the two sides reach agreement. Such a deal would include some form of compromise by Republicans on taxing the wealthy -- those making more than $250,000 a year. It might include a combination of a higher tax rate on the highest income brackets and limits on tax deductions that predominantly favor the well to do.
But it's also becoming clear that Democrats will have to give up something on the issue of entitlement reform, by accepting steps to rein in the costs of popular but increasingly expensive programs like Medicare (health care for the elderly), Medicaid (health care for the poor and disabled) and perhaps even the Social Security pension system...
Obama is also already in a heated battle with Congress over UN Ambassador Susan Rice, whom he's favoring for Clinton's job. Critics contend that she pushed erroneous administration talking points on the Sept. 11 Benghazi attack, trying to deflect terrorism as the cause while pointing the finger at anger over an anti-Muhammad video.