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Obama agenda: 'Sweeping'

The AP: “The president’s sweeping, $500 million plan, coming one month after the school massacre in Connecticut, marks the most comprehensive effort to tighten gun laws in nearly two decades. But his proposals, most of which are opposed by the National Rifle Association, face a doubtful future in a divided Congress where Republicans control the House.”

USA Today: “President Obama unveiled the most sweeping set of gun-control proposals in two decades on Wednesday, a package that includes universal background checks on all gun buyers and a renewed ban on ‘military-style’ assault weapons.”

And USA Today makes this point: “The beauty of a second term presidency, at least for the man in the Oval Office, is that political calculations become less important as he considers policies he wants to pursue. President Obama's sweeping gun-safety agenda laid out Wednesday reflects just that reality as he called on Americans to get behind a dramatic plan that he believes can help stem gun violence.”

Politico makes a similar point: “For one of the few instances in his presidency, he now appears willing to burn political capital by pressuring Senate Democrats to vote for a measure that is likely to die in the House, a symbolic victory that sets the stage, he hopes, for more meaningful ones. Along with his tough stances on the debt ceiling, it’s part of a second-term strategy of calculated confrontation: Republicans won’t negotiate with him, so he plans to marshal popular opinion to force them into action.”

So does Ron Brownstein: “The wide-ranging proposals on gun control that Barack Obama is expected to announce tomorrow (Jan. 16) symbolize the change in attitude accompanying his second presidential term. Rapidly accelerating a process that began during his campaign, Obama since November has confidently picked fights with Republicans—and challenged the most conservative members of his own party—on a broad range of foreign-policy and domestic social issues. Besides gun control these include immigration, the pace of withdrawal from Afghanistan and the nomination of Republican senator Chuck Hagel as Defense secretary, a red flag for the GOP’s neo-conservative wing.”

More: Many see Obama’s newfound aggression as a sign that he feels liberated by knowing that he will never again face the voters. … But it also reflects the changing demographics that got Obama re-elected. Since the 1970s Democrats have often been paralyzed by the fear of losing culturally conservative white voters if they moved too far left, particularly on social and foreign-policy issues. And in fact, those voters did stampede away from Obama last November in even larger numbers than in 2008: Exit polls conducted on election day found that Republican Mitt Romney carried over three-fifths of both whites older than 45 and whites without a four-year college degree. Yet Obama not only won without them, but won convincingly.”

Not the facts, ma’am… USA Today: “President Obama's demand Wednesday for research into gun violence could usher in a flood of data on the nation's 32,000 annual gun deaths after decades of an information blackout. Scientists and policy makers say they have little scientific data about gun violence after Congress prohibited federal agencies, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), from offering research grants to study anything that could be used to promote gun control.”

The Hill notes that Obama’s initiating a fight with the NRA and Congress.

As we wrote yesterday, despite how relatively weak Obama’s executive actions are on guns, Republicans are reacting caustically. Here was Rand Paul on Fox accusing Obama of having a “king complex”: “I’m afraid that President Obama may have this ‘king complex’ sort of developing, and we’re going to make sure it doesn’t happen.”

AP: “Despite a relentless workload ahead, President Barack Obama is lighter on his feet in one sense as he opens his second term. Gone are the hundreds of promises of the past. He’s toting carry-ons instead of heavy cargo this time. Obama’s first presidential campaign and the years that followed were distinguished by an overflowing ambition, converted into a checklist of things he swore to do. The list was striking not only for its length but its breadth, ranging from tidbits in forgotten corners of public policy to grand — even grandiose — pronouncements worthy of Moses.”

John Kerry’s confirmation hearing is set for Jan. 24.

“As many as 20 foreign hostages, including an unknown number of Americans, being held at a natural-gas facility in the Algerian desert have escaped their captors, an Algerian official told the Associated Press on Thursday,” USA Today writes.