By: David Shepardson and Kim Kozlowski

The Detroit News

President Barack Obama faces a full second-term agenda that will be critical  to Michigan — fighting Asian carp in the Great Lakes, boosting struggling  electric vehicles and staving off defense cuts that could cost thousands of  jobs.

The biggest issue in the short term is addressing the “fiscal cliff” by Dec.  31.

Unless Congress acts, $1.2 trillion in mandatory defense and domestic  spending over 10 years takes effect under an agreement reached last year to  raise the debt ceiling. The Bush-era tax cuts will also expire as will a payroll  tax cut unless Congress takes action.

The Center for Security Policy said last month the $50 billion to $63 billion  in cuts in the first year could cost nearly 1.4 million jobs, including 14,641  jobs in Michigan.

The Obama administration will face dozens of big and small decisions that  affect the state, from deciding when to sell the government’s remaining shares  in General Motors Co., whether to award a stalled Detroit light rail project $25  million in federal funds and whether to mandate back-up cameras in new  cars.

The administration also faces broad national questions including addressing  the lingering housing crisis, implementing health care reform and boosting  manufacturing employment.

At the same time, Obama plans to reshuffle his cabinet with new faces — who  may take new approaches to regulatory issues that affect Michigan industries,  including autos, agriculture and tourism.

The most important thing that will happen with Obama’s re-election is  concerns are reduced over sequestration, said Jamie Schriner-Hooper, executive  director of the Community Economic Development Association of Michigan, a  Lansing organization that works to build communities.

Obama said at the final presidential debate last month the automatic spending  cuts over 10 years will not happen.

“We’re hopeful that housing tax credits will stay in place,” Schriner-Hooper  said. “It will mean that a vast number of nonprofits across the state will not  have the majority of their funding cut, from programs (addressing) foreclosure  prevention to affordable housing to weatherization to job training.”

Housing advocates are hoping that the re-election of Obama will lead him to  fix the problem of the federal Housing and Finance Agency not allowing mortgage  reductions for homeowners with underwater loans.

Neeta Delaney, director of the Michigan Foreclosure Task Force, said Romney  had said he wanted the mortgage foreclosure crisis to hit bottom, but Obama has  implemented some programs to help homeowners at risk of foreclosure. But the  president’s attempts to assist struggling homeowners are being hampered by the  federal housing agency that backs two-thirds of home loans, and she hopes he  will address that during his second term.

In Michigan, 33 percent of homeowners owe more on their mortgage than their  home is worth.

“That is a huge number of people that are at high risk of going into  foreclosure,” Delaney said.

Health care advocates said Obama returning to office will mean health care  reforms won’t be repealed, and benefit up to 2.5 million uninsured Michigan  residents.

Romney said he thought the Affordable Care Act was too costly and had he been  elected, he promised to repeal parts of the law and give states waivers from  complying.

“That would have affected a lot of people in a very negative way,” said Karen  Holcomb-Merrill, policy director of Michigan League for Public Policy. “Looking  ahead to the future, the Affordable Care Act is going to provide health care  access to all people here in Michigan.

“Without that, we could continue to have situations where people and children  end up in the emergency room because they don’t have insurance coverage. There  are also a number of things under the Affordable Care Act that are designed to  make people healthier in general.”

Obama will have to decide when to sell the government’s 26.5 percent stake in  GM.

The Treasury — after holding GM stock for 38 months — has offered no  timetable for selling the shares.

The Obama administration avoided selling its remaining shares because at  current share prices the government would lose about $15 billion on its GM  bailout.

“We’ll be patient. So we’ll sell when we think the time is right,” Assistant  Treasury Secretary Tim Massad said on CNBC.

The government put an IPO on hold for Ally Financial — of which it owns 74  percent as part of a $17.2 billion bailout — because of weak market conditions  and has no plan for how it will sell its stake in the Detroit company that’s the  nation’s largest new  car  lender.

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