The Past, the Present, and What to Expect

By Kayla Day

Today during our academic session David Welna, Congressional Correspondent for National Public Radio and Ken Walsh, Chief White House Correspondent for U.S News and World Report discussed the future regarding the debt ceiling, as well as problems with the house and Senate. On a personal note, we discussed why personal relationships are so important when working in a political field.

Ken Walsh (left) and David Welna (right) discussed many major political issues for the students of the Washington Center Seminar this morning. (Photo by Noelle Smith)

Ken Walsh (left) and David Welna (right) discussed many major political issues for the students of the Washington Center Seminar this morning. (Photo by Noelle Smith)

Key topics discussed today:

* The fiscal cliff was only slightly averted: The bill that was quickly passed by Vice President Joe Biden and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell fixed the tax issue and held off the fiscal cliff, but it did nothing to fix the spending issue. With the debt ceiling expected to be reached by the end of February/early March, it would cause the US to default on it’s current debt and fall into bankruptcy. David Welna discussed how an increased segregation between parties in the house and Senate makes it more difficult for politicians (including Obama) to pass any legislation efficiently.

U.S. News and World Report's Ken Walsh (photo by Noelle Smith)

U.S. News and World Report’s Ken Walsh (photo by Noelle Smith)

* Obama has a lot he would like to accomplish for his second term: President Obama has a lot he wants to get done during his second term, such as immigration reform, taxes, increased gun control, national spending, and environmental issues. I believe having these goals is great, and if he had more time in office I think he could accomplish them, but as Welna and Walsh suggested, he needs to pick out topics that will help the country and focus on those first (which would explain why he isn’t sending federal agents to Colorado and Washington after they passed their new marijuana laws).

* Congress poses the biggest problem for Obama this term: The Republican Party continued to hold a majority lead in the House, which is a problem for Obama. As he is a family man, he prioritizes time with his family over seeing members of congress like former presidents, as both Welna and Walsh pointed out,. It is not a bad thing that Obama likes to spend time with his family (in fact its commendable), but if Obama spent more time socializing with Congress like former Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush, it would be easier for Obama to get things accomplished in Congress.

NPR's David Welna (photo by Noelle Smith)

NPR’s David Welna (photo by Noelle Smith)

* Changing demographics will play crucial roles in upcoming elections: Both Welna and Walsh discussed the effects shifting demographics will have in future elections. For example, Welna used a statistic that stated by 2040 the Latino population will outnumber Caucasians in America. This will be an interesting factor, especially in the next presidential race, as Romney did very little in trying to gain the minority vote in 2012.

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