As holidays begin countdown to end of 2012, a look at the politics of 2013


by MARK WIGGINS / KVUE News and photojournalist SCOTT MCKENNEY

Bio | Email | Follow: @MarkW_KVUE

Posted on November 23, 2012 at 7:41 PM

Updated Friday, Nov 23 at 8:01 PM

AUSTIN -- As President Barack Obama officially pardoned "Cobbler" the turkey, his message this Thanksgiving was that life is about second chances.

"This November I could not agree more," the president said Thursday during the annual event at the White House, a clear allusion to his narrow re-election. As Mr. Obama enters his second term, he will have plenty on his plate in 2013.

As Palestinians celebrate a ceasefire after eight days of fierce rocket exchanges across the Israel-Gaza border, the question of resolving the Middle East's most explosive relationship remains, with the prospects of a lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians seemingly as elusive as ever.

"Our main goal is the end of occupation," Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh told Palestinian television following the ceasefire, adding that Palestinians would not be satisfied without a new state with Jerusalem as its capital.

In the United States, Democrats and Republicans have until January 1 to reach a deal to reduce the deficit without triggering drastic spending cuts and tax hikes known as the "fiscal cliff."

"I just want to emphasize, I am open to new ideas," the president said after initial bipartisan talks to secure a deal. Republican Speaker of the House Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) affirmed, "I think I've laid out a reasonable framework where both parties can work together."

Despite their conciliatory tones, neither side has indicated a willingness to concede ground on the issue of taxation. Democrats insist that a plan must include increased revenues obtained by allowing tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans to expire, while Republicans steadfastly oppose any tax rate increases.

Unsure as compromise there may be, questions also loom about the implementation of the president's Affordable Care Act. Along with a handful of other Republican governors, Texas Gov. Rick Perry vowed not to participate in key parts of the law, leaving unanswered questions for Texas business owners and health care options for millions of Texans up in the air.

"We're not going to participate in exchanges, we're not going to expand medicaid," Gov. Perry said in a July 9 interview on Fox News Channel. "We're just not going to be a part of, again, socializing health care in the State of Texas."

As Texas prepares for the 83rd Texas Legislature to convenes in January, among the major issues expected in 2013 include issues related to education: Will increased revenues lead to restoring some of the $5.4 billion cut from public schools? Will Texas see legislation passed to allow school vouchers? What will be determined by the massive lawsuit over school finance reform?

"Our entire economy is at risk if we don't address the issue of how to raise the educational success rate of the educationally disadvantaged," Lynn Moak, a key witness in the finance lawsuit, told KVUE in a November 29 interview.

With the delivery Friday of the official White House Christmas tree, the first family and millions more across America prepare for the holidays ahead. As they fill their homes with holiday decorations, it will with hopes for a happy, peaceful and prosperous new year.