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What happens if Barack Obama wins the US Election?

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On 6 November, the US will vote for their president. The outcome couldaffect your health, wages and even your car. Channel 4 News’ Matt Frei, political writer Dan Hancox and Professor Kathleen Burk explain how

1. Economic Uncertainty

Even if President Obama stays in office, the House of Representatives will continue to be dominated by Republicans, and they control the purse strings. This is not for the first time. Bill Clinton had to work with a Republican majority after his re-election in 1996. Ronald Reagan had to make do with the Democrats after 1984. But the tribal divisions are more bitter now than they were then.

What it means for the UK by Professor Kathleen Burk (UCL History Department):

“If the Republicans control the purse strings, it could mean a currency tailspin akin to when they refused to raise the US debt limit and lost America its AAA credit rating. If the US economy becomes chaotic, the UK economy will follow suit.”

2. Less chance of war

Many expect Obama to continue pressuring Iran with sanctions while dissuading Israel from launching a pre-emptive military strike. The Israelis may not listen – their leader Bibi Netanyahu and President Obama famously do not get along – but he will make it clear to Tel Aviv that they are out on a limb if they strike first. The US administration believes overt military intervention in Syria could make the country explode rather than implode. This would be a tragedy for the Syrian people but Obama is a pragmatist when it comes to foreign policy.

What it means for the UK by Professor Burk:

“Less chance of war with Iran and no threat to oil prices – good for UK consumers.”

3. Improved healthcare

Even though they were watered down before finally being passed, the President’s wide-ranging health reforms, often referred to as ‘Obamacare’, are widely regarded as his biggest achievement in his first term. At its best, the new system has given coverage to an estimated 32 million of the poorest Americans. This is a vital election issue, with Romney promising to repeal Obamacare, claiming it is too expensive, hurting small businesses, driving up health insurance premiums and taking money away from Medicare for older Americans.

What it means for the UK by Professor Burk:

“With the British government’s new Health and Social Care Act giving private healthcare firms the opportunity to compete less chance of war Many expect Obama to continue with the NHS, and Labour promising to repeal it if elected in 2015, the battle lines over healthcare – and who pays for it – are being drawn along similar lines. An Obama win would be a big boost for Labour and their plans to restrain private influence over the NHS.”

4. Fewer troops on the front line

Obama believes that America needs to manage the world and contain its opponents, but to do so with a light footprint. Unmanned drones rather than marines could become the military tool of choice. Extra-judicial killings from eyes in the sky – already at record numbers under Obama – will probably increase. It’s legally questionable, to say the least, and deeply unpopular outside America, but most Americans are fine with it as long as it keeps terrorists from the homeland. Obama’s notorious “kill list” will probably get longer. Expect a few names in Benghazi to be added after the killing of the US ambassador to Libya. The Oval Office copies of St Augustine and Thomas Aquinas dealing with ‘just wars’ will be better thumbed than ever.

What it means for the UK by Professor Burk:

“The positives are not easy to see here, but if there’s less chance of British servicemen and women being tied into open warfare, then that’s a good thing.”

5. A greener world

Having long declared his belief in man-made climate change, Obama has seen offshore oil drilling at an eight-year high, and generally found it difficult to make progress on environmental issues while in office, claiming he is hamstrung by a floundering economy. Unperturbed by these failures in his first term, he has set a target for the notoriously oil-dependent US to acquire 25% of its energy from renewable sources by 2025, and promised to reduce foreign oil imports by half by 2020.

What it means for the UK by Professor Burk:

“Without US support for cutting carbon emissions and investment in renewable energy, meaningful international agreements to combat climate change would continue to prove impossible – so Obama in charge is good news for the whole planet.”

Picture credit: Rex Features

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