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Obama mindful of re-elect in new policy announcements


Touting his administration’s new proposals on housing and education policy on Thursday, President Obama also said he had more work to do on both issues -- work that would require another four years in office.

The president today announced a $25 billion deal that requires the five biggest mortgage-lending banks to provide financial help to qualified homeowners and, in a separate speech, declared 10 states eligible for waivers from parts of the No Child Left Behind education law that measures school success.

Praising those 10 states for accepting the administration’s offer of NCLB waivers in exchange for “higher benchmarks for student achievement,” Obama also subtly reminded the audience that these new efforts will take years to implement -- well into what would be his second term, in fact.

“This is not a one-year project. This isn’t a two-year project. This is going to take some time,” he told a group of teachers and school superintendents in the East Room of the White House.

And while he praised the mortgage settlement, part of which funds remittance for improperly foreclosed-upon families, he added that his administration still needs to ensure that the banks fulfill the terms of the settlement, which could take up to three years -- again, the middle of his potential next term.  

“We're going to make sure that the banks live up to their end of the bargain,” Obama said, speaking in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. “If they don’t, we've set up an independent inspector, a monitor, that has the power to make sure they pay exactly what they agreed to pay, plus a penalty if they fail to act in accordance with this agreement.”

While he emphasized his administration’s leadership in the measures he announced today, Obama also urged for Congress to be his partner in future efforts, jabbing his frequent foil for not doing enough to further his priorities.

On the mortgage issue, Obama urged Congress to pass his plan to give more homeowners the option of refinancing their loans, which was announced last week.

“To build on this settlement, Congress still needs to send me the bill I've proposed that gives every responsible homeowner in America the chance to refinance their mortgage and save about $3,000 a year,” he said. “It's only going to happen if Congress musters the will to act.”
And Obama also blamed legislators for making him go it alone on education reform.

“In September, after waiting far too long for Congress to act, I announced that my administration would take steps to reform No Child Left Behind on our own,” he said, referring to his announcement last year that he would allow states to skirt some of the law’s mandates like full proficiency of all students in math and reading by 2014.

While he did give shout-outs to some members of Congress who supported his administration’s plans, Obama added, “We haven't been able to get the entire House and Senate to move on this.”