Our View: Five important issues for the next four years

DKS Editors

Congratulations on winning a second term, President Obama. But as you know, you have a lot of work to do in the next four years. Here are the issues we hope you will make a priority for the remainder of your time in office.

Make college more affordable

You’ve set a goal to cut tuition growth in half over the next decade and expand student aid. Kent State has continued to increase tuition year after year, so fulfilling these promises would make a significant and vital impact for the future of this university and for solving the growing problem of student debt.

As college education becomes more important in the job market, it must start being accessible to more people. Students shouldn’t have to graduate with tens of thousands of dollars in student debt. Let’s make more investment in higher education and keep a college degree within reach for everyone.

Create more jobs

The number of private-sector jobs has increased for 32 consecutive months, which is proof that the economy has improved in your first term, but it hasn’t improved enough. The unemployment rate at 7.9 percent is too high, and the labor force participation rate has continually sloped downward in the last four years.

We want more assurance that we’ll be able to find work when we graduate — after all, we have to pay off our student debt. So the streak of job growth needs to continue.

Improve foreign policy

Ending the war in Iraq and killing Osama bin Laden are great accomplishments, but some more things need to change overseas. The drone attacks in Pakistan have killed hundreds of innocents. Indefinite detention of terror suspects without trial is probably unconstitutional.

In Afghanistan, your plan is to end the war in Afghanistan by the end of 2014. With public support for the war waning, sticking to that plan will be another benchmark for the success of your presidency.

Protect women’s health

Here in Ohio, Gov. John Kasich banned some abortions after 20 weeks, with no exceptions for rape or incest. Such bans will never prevent abortions, but increasing access to birth control and sex education will.

As long as there are federal and state legislators who try to chip away at a woman’s right to an abortion, we need you to defend Roe v. Wade so women can control their health choices. Pregnancy shouldn’t be forced on anyone.

Champion gay marriage

Last month, your administration urged the Supreme Court to review the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as being between a man and woman. Later this month, the court will announce whether it will.

We don’t want you to start shying away from this issue like you did at the beginning of your presidency. You have the power to inspire Americans to stand on the right side of history. Same-sex couples deserve nothing less: Their love is just as valid as everyone else’s, and it’s long past time for the federal government to start recognizing it that way.

How Sherrod Brown can keep Ohio ahead

Best of luck to you in your second term as a U.S. senator, Sherrod Brown. We’re well aware that Congress has suffered through crippling polarization and sunk to an abysmal approval rating, but that is no excuse. We need you to help pass legislation that is crucial for the nation, and we’ll be keeping an eye on these issues in particular.

Fight partisanship

This is the third consecutive Congress to reach more than 100

filibusters, after no previous U.S. Senate had ever eclipsed 82. We

know you’re one of the most liberal senators currently in office,

and we know Republican leader Mitch McConnell said his party’s

“most important” goal was denying President Obama a second

term. But that doesn’t excuse you from finding a way to reach

across the aisle to avoid stalled legislation that could lead to a crisis.

Boost Ohio’s economy

Both you and Republican colleague Rob Portman have been

passionate supporters of issues that help the state’s businesses

and infrastructure. Continuing your strong record could create a

dynamic duo that is much too rare in this era full of wacky congressmen

infamous for unethical behavior.

Focus on renewable energy

We’ve previously mentioned our concerns about

the potential safety hazards of hydraulic fracturing,

or fracking. We’re glad you share our concerns and

hope you will make progress in your advocacy for

clean-energy tax credits.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.