REFILE-FACTBOX-Obama’s daunting post-election agenda

(Refiles to add dropped words in Afghan war section)

Oct 27 (BestGrowthStock) – Congressional Election Day on Tuesday
may be President Barack Obama’s only opportunity to pause
before he plunges into a 10-day trip to Asia and starts work on
a long post-election “to do” list.

Here are a few of the more pressing issues facing him.

BUSH-ERA TAX CUTS

A ticking time bomb: So far Democrats and Republicans have
been unable to agree on how to defuse it. Obama wants to extend
the tax cuts on income below $250,000 while Republicans want
the cuts to be extended for everyone, including the wealthy.
Widely predicted Republican gains in the congressional vote
might force Obama to compromise. If both sides fail to reach
agreement, the tax cuts will expire at the end of the year.

CUTTING THE DEFICIT

Both Obama and Republicans agree that digging into
America’s huge budget deficit will be a top priority. Polls
show most Americans are deeply worried about ongoing deficits
after a fiscal 2010 gap of $1.3 trillion. Extending the Bush
tax cuts would be popular with voters but would complicate the
fight against the deficit. A bipartisan deficit panel appointed
by the president is due to report on Dec. 1, but it is unclear
whether its 18 members can reach consensus or if Congress would
adopt its recommendations.

AFGHANISTAN/PAKISTAN STRATEGY REVIEW

Obama has promised a review of his new Afghanistan war
strategy in December. U.S. military officials have cautioned
that it is highly unlikely to lead to a major rethink of how
the United States is fighting the nine-year-old war, despite
the strategy’s so far mixed results. U.S. casualties and
Taliban attacks have risen, but the top U.S. commander there,
General David Petraeus, says he is seeing progress. Meanwhile
the idea of negotiations with Taliban leaders appears to be
gaining ground.

CHINA CURRENCY

The U.S. Treasury delayed a decision on whether to name
China a currency manipulator until after the G20 meeting in
Seoul on Nov. 10. The value of China’s yuan currency is a
running sore in relations between the world’s two biggest
economies. With Chinese President Hu Jintao due to make a state
visit in January, Obama will have to perform a delicate
balancing act.

UNEMPLOYMENT

Obama says stubbornly high U.S. unemployment keeps him
awake at night. He will still be having sleepless nights after
election day as he tries to figure out new ways to stimulate
the economy and bring down a 9.6 percent unemployment rate.
Republicans have already expressed opposition to his most
recent stimulus plan — a six-year program to rebuild U.S.
infrastructure with an initial $50 billion investment.

GET BUDGET DIRECTOR APPROVED

Obama has been without a budget director since July, with
Senate approval of Jack Lew, his nominee for the job, still
pending. The White House hopes to get Lew approved in the short
session that Congress will convene after the election. The
timing is seen as especially critical with the deficit panel
expected to report back on Dec. 1.

SOUTH KOREA TRADE PACT

Obama and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak set a Nov.
10-12 deadline for resolving obstacles that have blocked
approval of a free trade agreement since 2007.

NUCLEAR ARMS TREATY

The U.S. Senate has yet to approve a new nuclear arms
treaty between Russia and the United States that is the
cornerstone of Obama’s efforts to reset strained relations with
Moscow. Russia hopes the treaty, which commits the former Cold
War foes to reducing deployed nuclear warheads by about 30
percent, will be passed in the short session of Congress.

REPEALING “DON’T ASK, DON’T TELL”

The White House said this week it wants a bill on Obama’s
desk by the end of the year repealing the 17-year-old policy
barring gays from serving openly in the U.S. military. Obama is
also waiting for a Pentagon study due by December on the impact
of repealing the policy. He is likely to face opposition from
Republicans and some top military commanders.

STAFF CHANGES

Obama is expected to reshuffle his White House team, which
already has several key vacancies. Apart from getting Lew
confirmed by the Senate, Obama will need a replacement for one
of his most senior economic aides, Larry Summers, who is
stepping down as National Economic Council director.

(Reporting by Ross Colvin, additional reporting by Caren
Bohan, editing by Philip Barbara and Frances Kerry)

REFILE-FACTBOX-Obama’s daunting post-election agenda