2012 fall columnists Credit: Justin Cohen , Brian Collopy

Predicting the future is always risky. But the fact that Barack Obama was re-elected guarantees that certain changes will take effect.

This election wasn’t just about who will lead the country for the next four years. It cemented Obama’s first-term accomplishments that Mitt Romney pledged to overturn. The fact that Obama — rather than Romney — is in the Oval Office affects the cost of health care and the level of taxes you’ll pay.

It also affects the sort of country you live in — whether your government at this moment is more concerned with the well-being of the community or the unfettered rights of the individual.

First, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which Romney promised to repeal on his first day in office, will take effect.

The importance of the Affordable Care Act should not be underestimated. Nearly 50 million people in America are uninsured. Though the law was weakened somewhat by the Supreme Court ruling this summer, this bill goes a long way toward granting everyone access to health care. Given the history of reforms such as Social Security and Medicare, it is very unlikely that it will be repealed after Obama’s second term.

While Romney may not have been able to repeal the Affordable Care Act as president, he may have weakened it substantially, potentially leaving millions more uninsured.

Second, the Dodd-Frank financial reforms, which were passed in 2010, will remain law. These measures will help protect American consumers and help prevent the next financial crisis for as long as possible. Though some say they do not go far enough, they are a step in the right direction.

Romney vowed to repeal Dodd-Frank. With Obama re-elected, Americans will be better protected from potential financial crises.

Third, Obama will oversee a compromise to address the fiscal cliff. The fiscal cliff refers to tax increases and spending cuts that will go into effect at the end of December if a compromise on deficit reduction is not reached. If the fiscal cliff is not addressed, the U.S. economy would experience roughly an $800 billion hit, which economists have said would send the economy back into a recession.

Obama plans to ensure that the eventual agreement contains some sort of revenue increases, whereas Romney has repeatedly stated he would not accept such increases, even if the ratio of spending cuts to revenue increases were 10-to-one.

Since tax reform will likely be a part of this compromise, the decisions made in the coming months will affect tax policy for years to come.

Fourth, immigration reform is likely to be passed in the next few years. This would address the status of approximately 12 million undocumented immigrants. As Obama predicted in an interview with The Des Moines Register before the election, his victory owed a great deal to his ability to better address the concerns of the growing Latino vote.

In fact, the non-white share of the electorate has grown by an average of 2 percentage points per election. As such, immigration is very likely to pass because Republicans will want to court the Latino vote in future elections. Indeed, Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) has already indicated willingness to address immigration reform.

Which brings us to the next point: the Republican party must adapt. The signs are already there that the U.S. economy is headed towards a recovery, albeit a very slow one. There will not be 8 percent unemployment in the next election.

The typical voter’s stance on social issues is also shifting to be more in line with the position held by Democrats. For example, gay marriage is now legal in a number of states, and the trend is likely to continue.

Conditions will make it more difficult, not less, for a particularly conservative Republican party to win the presidency.

All of these changes in demographics, social issues and economic conditions will require the GOP to adapt if it wishes to regain the White House in 2016.

Brian Collopy is a College junior from Washington, D.C. “A Modest Proposal” usually appears every other Tuesday. His email address is collopyb@gmail.com Follow him brianc61.

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