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Americas

Opinion: A good decision

America has made the right choice in re-electing Barack Obama. He is not a perfect president, but he is a better alternative to the Republican Mitt Romney, says Deutsche Welle's Christina Bergmann.

President Barack Obama managed to pull the US out of one recession and avoided a second. Barely a month into his presidency, he signed a rescue package worth $787 billion (615 billion euros), a seamless continuation of the policy that his predecessor George W. Bush began with the bank bailouts. The economic situation is not rosy, the 8 percent unemployment rate is still relatively high, but the experts agree that without the measures it could have been a lot worse.

Christina Bergmann DW January 2012

Christina Bergmann is DW's Washington correspondent

One of the biggest challenges facing the president in his next term is the colossal debt mountatin of $16 trillion. The president has said he favors a mixture of tax hikes and spending cuts - mathematically the only possible way out of the debt crisis. It stands in contrast to the Republican oath - also signed by Mitt Romney - to oppose all tax hikes under any circumstances. That is politically irresponsible and mathematically unrealistic. And anyone who goes into a negotiation flatly ruling out a compromise is simply behaving childishly.

As for social policy, the health care reform that cost Obama so much effort to sign into law can finally take effect. A second Obama term means that millions of Americans will have access to a health insurance plan that ensures serious illness will not automatically lead to financial ruin. Romney threatened to repeal the reform on day one of his presidency.

Obama can also point to other successful acts, such as one that guarantees women the same pay as men for the same work, and another that ensures that gay military personnel have the right to be open about their sexuality. By the same token, we can expect Obama's imminent immigration reform to be similarly humane. At any rate, it will not marginalize a section of the population that has contributed to the economic success of the nation, as the Republicans' reform would have.

The president has certainly not done everything right on the international stage - his hesitation in the face of demonstrations in Iran and bloodshed in Syria are hard to justify - but those who accuse him of acting too reluctantly should remember that Americans voted for him in 2008 precisely because that is what he promised. He turned the US from a much-hated unilateralist superpower to a much-sought-after coalition partner. The international military action in Libya is the best illustration of his success.

And last but not least - the US under President Obama is more or less a known quantity. Obama has governed with a calm, judicious hand over the past four years. What a Romney presidency would have looked like is anyone's guess, considering the Republican's frequent flip-flopping in almost all policy areas. The US needs a steady man at its helm. In Barack Obama, they have re-elected one.

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