Today is a historic day. We’ll see our nation’s first black President be sworn in. Unfortunately, he won’t have much of a honeymoon period to celebrate his historicness. I gave Congress their marching orders a couple weeks ago. Now it’s his turn. If he’s going to correct our nation’s course, he needs to get to work at 12:01PM today. He’s got bold plans, but there are a few areas he should focus on at the start. The rest can wait until our economy’s on the road to health.
The Obama Stimulus Package
He’s already asked for the rest of the $350 billion and assembled his economic team. He’s even floated a stimulus plan already. He needs to do whatever it takes to get that plan through so new infrastructure projects can get rolling and idled workers can return to their jobs. California had numerous projects that were stalled due to lack of funds. The sooner they get back to work, the better it will be for everyone.
New Financial Regulations
Some of the banks are saying they don’t want to lend until firm new regulations are in place. It seems to me that they should have been concerned about regulations six years ago when their irrational lending started, but whatever. If they want new rules, then Obama’s team needs to write them and write them pronto.
Building the New Energy Infrastructure
Not only will building a new energy infrastructure create hundreds of thousands of jobs, but it will save our country a lot of money in the long-run by reducing our need to import pricey oil. It may be cheap now, but it won’t be forever. Our economy will crumble again if we don’t wean ourselves off oil before it runs out (and it will.) Obviously he can’t start the actual building now, but he can get good people in place to figure out what it would take and create a solid plan for the future.
Tax, Social Security, and Medicare Reform
Again, not all of these will happen immediately, but he needs to assemble teams that will figure out the problems and come up with plans to reform them. Heck, I can tell him the problem: there are more Baby Boomers than there are Gen X and Yers and we can’t foot the bill for our parents and grandparents. It’s sad to say, but benefits will have to be cut and taxes will have to go up (yes, I said “and,” not “or”). If these changes are accompanied by true tax reform, everyone can hopefully remain reasonably comfortable despite the necessary changes.
End Rampant Consumerism
President Bush’s response to our national crises was consumer spending. Clearly, that doesn’t work. While Obama can’t make us stop spending, he can choose not to rely on increased consumer spending to solve our problems. Instead he can encourage saving and a return to frugality. He may have become wealthy by selling lots of books, but he definitely comes from modest roots. He knows the value of the dollar and he needs to remind the nation of that.
I don’t think Obama is our savior. I don’t think he’s a white knight. I don’t think he’ll wave a magic wand and fix everything. I do think he’s got a good head on his shoulders, a clear vision of what needs to happen, and the ability to make it happen. So I say, Congratulations Mr. President. Now get to work.
What do you think Obama should focus on during his first year in office? Tell me in the comments.