What's new in Obama's second-term goals?

J. Scott Applewhite/AP

In his speech at the Democratic convention in Charlotte on Thursday, President Obama laid out a list of goals for his second term, some of which represented new policy ideas and some which were repackaged goals that his administration had announced previously.

Here’s a look at Obama’s second-term goals:


Create 1 million new manufacturing jobs by the end of 2016.

While this particular number is new, President Obama’s plans have previously included ideas about creating a more favorable environment for companies to create manufacturing jobs in the U.S. In his “Blueprint for an America Built to Last,” Obama included proposals to lower tax rates for “companies that manufacture and create jobs in the United States” and create a new tax credit that would support companies seeking to finance factories, equipment, or production in communities “that have been hardest hit by a company choosing to relocate or a military base shutting down.” The Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected about 357,000 new manufacturing jobs over the next decade. Meanwhile, the Boston Consulting Group has forecast that 2 to 3 million new manufacturing jobs will be created by 2020.

Double exports by the end of 2014.

In his National Export Initiative launched in 2010, Obama vowed to double U.S. export growth by 2015. “Because the more products we make and sell to other countries, the more jobs we support right here in America. So tonight, we set a new goal: We will double our exports over the next five years, an increase that will support 2 million jobs in America. To help meet this goal, we're launching a National Export Initiative that will help farmers and small businesses increase their exports, and reform export controls consistent with national security,” Obama said in his first State of the Union address in 2010.


Cut net oil imports in half by 2020.

In his "Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future" released in March 2011, Obama set a goal of reducing oil imports by one-third by 2025, pushing an “all-of-the-above” energy plan in order to reach that goal by tapping domestic oil and gas resources, increasing energy efficiency, and developing biofuels and other alternative fuels. Obama’s goal is more ambitious here, as he cuts the timeline by five years and moves from cutting oil imports by one-third to cutting them in half. The goal might be more ambitious, but it is also getting more within reach, as domestic oil and gas production is at an all-time high and in 2011, the U.S. became a net-oil exporter for the first time since 1949, according to the Energy Department.

Support 600,000 natural gas jobs by the end of the decade.

This 600,000 natural-gas jobs figure was already included in Obama’s State of the Union address this year. It capitalizes on the boom in the United States that has driven natural-gas prices to all-time lows and was sparked by recently-discovered formations of shale gas all over the country and the private sector’s investments in new technologies to tap it. The boom means that the natural-gas industry will continue to grow regardless of what the Obama administration does. Natural gas and unconventional gas production is expected to support nearly 1.5 million jobs by 2015, according to a June report from energy research group IHS CERA. And according to that same report, the goal of 600,000 jobs has already been reached and surpassed: The survey shows that in 2010, unconventional gas activity supported 1 million jobs.


Cut the growth of college tuition in half over the next 10 years.

Over the past year, Obama has made college education a focal point of his education agenda. This spring, this push came to a head when he fought to keep the need-based student-loan interest rate at 3.4 percent. It was a home run -- Congress passed legislation in June to keep the low rate for another year. Now, Obama is trying to channel the public's frustration about the cost of college into votes with his pledge to cut tuition in half. And Obama doesn't need help from Congress for that or anything else he purports to do in higher education. Instead, he can bully college presidents and state boards of education. College tuitions are set either by the state, if they are public, or the university itself. Obama has proposed giving federal benefits to the colleges that try to keep their tuitions low and withholding them from those that don't. And he can do that unilaterally. It's still an uphill battle, however. Higher education is its own strange world that has its own pitfalls. But none of them are named John Boehner or Mitch McConnell.

Recruit 100,000 math and science teachers over the next 10 years.

This figure was included in Obama’s FY2013 budget. The program, as laid out by the White House, will "double key investments in science to educate the next generation of scientists and engineers, encourage private sector innovation, and prepare at least 100,000 math and science teachers over the next decade."

Train 2 million workers for real jobs at community colleges.

This figure was included in Obama’s FY2013 budget. “Join me in a national commitment to train 2 million Americans with skills that will lead directly to a job,” Obama said in his State of the Union address this year. “My administration has already lined up more companies that want to help. Model partnerships between businesses like Siemens and community colleges in places like Charlotte, Orlando, and Louisville are up and running. Now you need to give more community colleges the resources they need to become community career centers -- places that teach people skills that local businesses are looking for right now, from data management to high-tech manufacturing.”

National Security

Invest in the economy with the money we’re no longer spending on war.

The sentiment here isn’t necessarily new. The idea of war savings has been a part of President Obama’s agenda for a while now. In a weekly video address in May, Obama said that money saved from winding down the war in Afghanistan should be used in part to pay down the debt and, in part, to “strengthen the middle class” and “rebuild America.”  

“Over the last decade, we have spent a trillion dollars on war, at a time of rising debt and hard economic times.  Now, we must invest in America’s greatest resource –- our people. We must unleash innovation that creates new jobs and industries, while living within our means,” Obama said in 2011, when he addressed troop reductions and the way forward in Afghanistan.


Reduce the deficit by more than $4 trillion over the next decade.

This figure was included in Obama’s FY2013 budget. This would require a deal with Congress. The White House and House Republicans have been at loggerheads over fiscal issues, so getting any deal for long-term deficit-reduction would be a big challenge.

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