What Now?

Bruno and I found time last night to get ’round to discussing what Obama needs to do right away to capitalize on his momentum (Bruno likes to call it a mandate; I’m not so sure yet).

Wild prognostication may be my special calling, but mind reading isn’t.  With that in mind, here’s Matski’s guide to the First 100 Days.

First, Obama’s got to tackle the wars.  This was a major issue [the central issue?] in the campaign as recently as a few months ago.  Announce a plan to withdraw from Iraq within 18 months, and likewise announce a troop surge in Afghanistan.  Let’s get this one over with and move on.

In addition, Obama’s got to close down Gitmo.  This is a horrible stain on the international reputation of the United States.  This is a relatively easy win of enormous symbolic importance.

Next, the new President is going to have to do something about the economy.  Conduct an “Executive Review” of the Paulson / Bernanke / Bush bailout plan.  Meanwhile, announce a fiscal stimulous package consisting of major infrastructure initiatives.  Let’s do this one quick before the GOP regroups around its pretensions to small government.

Finally, Obama will want to take some action on climate change.  My idea?  Tie much stricter rules on emissions to any bailout package for Detroit.  The UAW will be happy, Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio will be happy, and all of the greens who supported Obama will be happy.  And this is an easy one to do!

Obviously, there are a few things that are going to have to wait.  As much as I’d like to see massive, sweeping reform in health care, there’s no way I see anything meaningful happening in Obama’s first term.  If we’re lucky, we’ll get some Social Security reforms and maybe an expansion of Medicare.  Education reform is also going to be a tough nut.  The teachers unions are far too powerful, and Obama’s going to have his hands full with broader macro-economic issues.

My biggest hope is that with a Democratic Congress, we can finally overcome the partisan bickering that’s got this country stuck in rhetorical mud for the last 28 years and enact meaningful and lasting change, not just for ourselves, but for our children and grandchildren.

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3 thoughts on “What Now?”

  1. Don’t forget the exciting Employee Free Choice Act! That should be first and foremost, before anything else is accomplished.

  2. Interesting. I’d say that ending the wars was a priority for the Democratic base, but (a) it was almost entirely swept off the table when the economy melted down, and (b) a lot of conservatives still believe going to war in the Middle East was/is the right thing to do, so taking swift steps toward withdrawal would be an alienating and divisive first move.

    Why do you see the war as a higher priority than dealing with the economy? (Or rather, I know why *you* do, but why do you think it would make good political and PR sense?)

  3. IMO, the war is a relatively easy issue to deal with. If Obama waits too long, it becomes “his” war and possibly a campaign issue in 2012.

    So, he throws a bone to his base, gets a big elephant out of the room, and clears some policy space to move forward.

    It’s not that I think the war is *more* important than the economy (I don’t), it’s just that it’s a discrete project that can be accomplished by what is effectively executive fiat.

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