US President Barack Obama returned to work Thursday after winning re-election in a hard fought battle with Republican Mitt Romney.
Obama got off to a slow start after a strenuous campaign with only a daily briefing with advisors on his agenda, but would soon face the challenges of dealing with looming fiscal cliff, when a combination of expiring tax cuts and automatic budget cuts go into effect.
He also has an eye on the formation of his next cabinet as longtime allies including, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, having signalled their intention to leave the government.
Obama also had a possible trip to Asia on his radar, which would bring him to Myanmar, Cambodia and Thailand later this month. He would be the first US leader to visit Cambodia and Myanmar, as the US continues to normalize relations with the long-isolated South-east Asian nation, the New York Times reported Thursday.
Obama spoke Thursday with French President Francois Hollande about the global economy and the "main international crises," the French presidency said.
Many experts fear that the projected 600-billion-dollar hit to the economy in 2013 from the fiscal cliff could severely crimp US growth, while the deadlock in Congress over a solution could lead to a government shutdown later this year.
Little was changed on the US political scene by Tuesday's vote: Republicans maintained control of the House of Representatives, while Democrats preserved their Senate majority and held onto the White House.
John Boehner, leader of the majority Republicans in the US House of Representatives, on Wednesday signalled his party's willingness to work with Obama. He pointed to challenge of steering away from the extreme austerity of the fiscal cliff while addressing long-term deficits.
He vowed to stand by the conservative party's stance to not to simply raise taxes, by allowing tax cuts on the wealthy to expire. Instead he said Congress would work with Obama to raise revenues "under the right conditions" through broader tax reform that spurs economic growth. Spending cuts must be enacted, too, Boehner said.
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