USA. When the new congress met in early January,
Republicans had a majority in the House of Representatives
after the election success a few months earlier. John
Boehner was elected to the important post of President of
the House of Representatives. The Democrats retained control
of the Senate, but Republicans blew into battle to tear up
laws passed by President Barack Obama.
Countryaah official site, a Democratic congressman, Gabrielle Giffords, was
severely shot in an assault that claimed the lives of six
people in Arizona in January. The attack sparked debate
about a widespread imagery, usually not least in the
right-wing Tea Party movement, which could be perceived as
calls for violence against political opponents.
However, the tone was hardly muted in the polarized
climate that characterized Washington politics. In April,
President Obama was prompted to publish his entire birth
certificate, in an attempt to make a point of stubborn
claims that he was not born in the United States and thus
would not be entitled to the presidential post. He justified
that the country faced important challenges and did not have
time for "such stupidity".
The fierce debate was largely about the economy. Obama
announced cuts in welfare programs for the elderly and the
poor, reduced defense spending and some tax increases for
the wealthy, in an effort to reduce the galloping budget
deficit. Republicans consistently demanded major savings and
bluntly refused to raise taxes. During the summer, the world
held its breath as the US came stumbling close to being
forced to suspend its payments. The money in the Treasury
was about to end, so that neither debt interest nor
government pensions could be paid out. The crisis occurred
when Congress needed to legislate on raising the debt
ceiling and enabling continued borrowing. Normally it is a
routine measure that has been taken 78 times in half a
century. But now the Republicans took a stubborn stance.
Some Tea Party representatives did not want to raise the
ceiling at all. Business warned of disastrous consequences
if no solution was found.
At the last moment, a settlement was concluded that
allowed high debt ceilings. One result of the political
circus - and the large budget deficit - was that for the
first time, a credit rating agency lowered the US credit
rating. The settlement included a "supercommittee" to
produce a proposal on how the deficit would be reduced by $
1.2 trillion in ten years. There was a new political failure
as no savings package existed when the deadline expired in
November. In the same month, government debt exceeded $ 15
trillion for the first time.
In many eyes, foreign policy won Obama a victory when he
was able to announce on May 1 that the country's most wanted
enemy since ten years, Usama bin Ladin, was killed. US
Special Forces shot dead Ladin in a raid on a building in
Pakistan. At home, many cheered, but the US's already
strained relationship with Pakistan was significantly
impaired by unilateral US action.
In July, a retreat from Afghanistan began, which is
scheduled to end in 2014. During the autumn, the remaining
40,000 soldiers were also withdrawn from Iraq. The retreat,
which was to be completed by the end of the year, meant that
one of Obama's election promises was fulfilled when the
United States left the country after nearly nine years.
During the summer, former CIA commander Leon Panetta took
over as new defense minister after Robert Gates, who
resigned. New head of the CIA intelligence service was David
Petraeus, who in turn was succeeded by John Allen as
commander in Afghanistan.
Dissatisfaction with the financial crisis, unemployment
and increased social divisions was behind a protest action
that began in New York in September, under the slogan Occupy
Wall Street. The so-called Occupy movement spread rapidly so
that demonstrations and occupations of squares occurred in
over 1,000 American cities and in several other parts of the
world. The protests were perceived to come mainly from the
left and focused among other things. that 1% of US residents
own 99% of the assets. The movement lacked leadership and
clear focus. In November, police began evicting protesters.
Obama launched his reelection campaign ahead of the 2012
presidential election. His popularity figures were low, not
least because of the weak economy and unemployment, which
remained at just over 9%. But Republicans lacked a credible
challenger. Several sailed temporarily as favorites during
the year, but then quickly dropped in opinion polls. The
strongest name among seven Republican major candidates who
stood ready for the primary elections at the turn of the
year was former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, but he
never had the support of more than a quarter of the
electorate in his own party.