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President’s top concern during first 100 days should be compromise in Washington

November 5, 2012

Discussions concerning the economy have dominated presidential campaigns, but the topic has revealed a larger issue threatening the nation. The next president should address the functionality of the government and encourage compromise among the various political factions, according to David Copeland, professor of communications.

He identified division within the federal government as the source of problems in the country and said he believes it to be the most important element for the president to address during his first 100 days in office.

He faults members of Congress for their intentional inactivity. He said he believes the president should be more forceful in his approach with leaders of Congress, introducing challenges to the country and inciting accountability.

“The do-nothing attitude has crated problems for the country and we probably could have bettered our economic situation and most other situations if most people in Congress had been willing to compromise,” Copeland said. “Whoever is president needs to work on that.”

Click here for an interactive graphic showing the presidential job approval ratings following the first 100 days in office.

Historically, the first 100 days of one’s term indicates the politician’s agenda and is considered to be a time when the president’s power and influence is at its greatest.

The theory developed following President Franklin Roosevelt’s address to Congress in 1933, during which he referred to the first 100-day session of the 73rd United States Congress as a means to measure the legislature’s success and predict its accomplishments.

Political commentators have since applied the theory to the president’s term, using it to assess the climate of one’s presidency.

Nevertheless, David Crowe, professor of history, questioned the significance of the first 100 days.

“I’m not certain the 100 days are the most telling about what the president’s going to do because there is a learning curve and on-the-job training,” he said.

For a full article about Romney’s first 100 days, click here.

Few experiences prepare an individual for presidency and, as a result, the first 100 days are a period of acclimation rather than action, he said. Rather, the first year is more indicative of the president’s agenda, according to Crowe.

Nevertheless, Crowe still said the president should immediately initiate compromise between political ideologies. The economic situation is dependent on resolutions developed in Congress.

While expiration of the Bush tax cuts, set to end Dec. 31, 2012, will reduce government spending and the budget deficit, the average household will experience a tax increase of almost $3,500, according to the Tax Policy Center, a Washington think tank. As a result, lawmakers are pressured to devise a policy to prevent the United States from falling off the “fiscal cliff,” which requires a deal between Congress and the White House.

If the dilemma is not resolved by December, the responsibility falls to the next president.

For a complete article about Obama’s first 100 days in office, click here.

With the threatening financial situation, the president’s attention should focus on the economy, according to sophomore Chelsea Lindsay.

“He should work with both tax raises and program cuts to make the budget something that is reasonable,” Lindsay said.

The economy was the most important factor for her during this election, she said.

“Long range, these are not the most important, but in terms of the immediacy, it can push us back in the recession if they are not dealt with by the end of December,” Crowe said. “In terms of the immediate issues, they are the most important.”

A new president could change the dynamic between Congress and the White House, according to Copeland.

Compromise is more attainable if a republican is elected president and there continues to be a majority of republicans in the House, he said.

“But if the current political situation stays status quo, compromise has to be brought back,” Copeland said. “Democracy only works through compromise. I think the first 100 days the most important element is getting the government back to work and listening and supporting the people.”

Nevertheless, Crowe acknowledged it is going to be a challenge for either presidential candidate.

In addition to the economy, Copeland recognized the international situation as an issue deserving of immediate attention. The president should remove the United States from international confrontations as a means to reduce government spending, he said.

Freshman Hannah Rolland also suggested reducing military spending in order to diminish national debt. She identified the War in Afghanistan as one of the issues the president should immediately address.

“Hurricane Sandy was devastating and it affects so many people. We can’t focus on health care or the economy or international issues until we get people power and back in their homes” – Emily Haley

Additionally, freshman Robert Linklater agreed the War in Afghanistan is one of the most pressing issues.

But for some others, social issues take prominence. Sophomore Alex Shahade said she believes women’s issues should be a top priority.

“Women are half of the population,” she said. “Women deserve to have the right to make decisions about their bodies.”

While most individuals focused on issues prevalent throughout the campaign season, for sophomore Emily Haley the president should also work immediately to resolve problems erupting from a more recent event: Hurricane Sandy.

“It affects the entire country,” she said. “It was devastating and it affects so many people. We can’t focus on health care or the economy or international issues until we get people power and back in their homes.”

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