A recent CBS/NY Times poll reports that 79% of Americans are optimistic about the next 4 years under Barack Obama. Here's my thoughts on that question. I feel Obama is the right person for the job, but it is the job itself that is the problem. Even though Obama mentions the disaster our current economy is in, most Americans seem to have little understanding of how bad it really is since it hasn't really hit like it will. Unless you live in a state like Michigan or Ohio, you don't have a great feel of how it will be in the near future.
Here are my thoughts on what needs to be done.
Tell the AARP and its members that there is going to be major changes in how Social Security and Medicare will be used.
Politicians have been afraid of doing anything to social security benefits for decades, despite anyone who had a shred of honesty knowing that the government's version of a Madoff scheme was about to combust. Well, the subprime mess has exacerbated the problem, as we now are printing money like we are working in a Parker Bros factory. It is time to raise the retirement age, cut benefits to people who make over 100 grand a year and pull back the financial disaster that is the Medicare prescription drug plan. There are plenty of good articles about this subject, but I suggest a good place to begin is a column Robert Samuelson wrote in Newsweek. The greatest generation got way more than they ever paid in, so we need to act quickly on making sure the baby boomers don't continue this heist. We never could really afford it as a nation, with now more than ever that being the case.
NOTE: Remember back in 2000 how a big debate issue was Bush wanting to create retirement accounts (just think of how that would have worked out now), while Gore saying he would put a lockbox on social security and medicare? Democrats have used this lockbox argument for great effect, much like Republicans have used no new taxes. Both are bullshit concepts. The voters and the media have played a gotcha game with politicians, with those who are willing to change their minds being accused of flip-flopping. Nothing should be left off the table this time around. I hope Obama flip-flops like a Mutha, if it is the right plan for the current crisis we are in.
Global Warming isn't as Important as Some Tell You
I believe it exists. I believe in promoting being a more earth-friendly citizen. This is not the time, though, that we should be pushing more new regulations that will hurt American business in the short-term. While I'm not someone who doesn't believe that global warming is a problem, there are real questions if its effects are as great as is preached by its zealots.
Push for Civil Unions for Gays
I'm all for Gay people being able to marry, but I'm in the minority on this one. Most of the country is not ready for Gays to marry. Instead, the focus should be on civil unions that would provide many of the protections that married couples have. The success of civil unions will eventually make for the next step, especially after a lot of old people starting dying off. Much like legalization of pot, it is more of a generational issue in being opposed to the concept of gay marriage. If you want to help the President you love so much, give Obama some time on this one. He doesn't need a hot button issue like this one to come up too soon, while he's dealing with bigger things.
Set a Time Table for Major Withdrawal in Iraq
Use the problems in Palestine or Afghanistan or our current financial crisis as reasons for needing to get out, but do it soon. The Iraqi government needs to be motivated to take more control. Yes it won't be a pretty exit, but here is where being a man of color with a Muslim middle name should help, right? It will also be time to see if Europeans mean what they say in their supports of Obama. The big, bad Bushie is gone, so we are going to need some of your troops to make-a-the-peace, when we leave the massive vacuum of security for the Iraqi's when we high-tail it out of there.
Increase the Size and Power of the IRS
During the Bush administration, this department has been devastated. It is part of successful democracy that people are forced to pay their fair share. We need more agents and we need to quickly shutdown the Cayman Island money shuffle which has gotten worse and worse over the past decade. Oh and can the nomination of Timonthy Geither, Barack. It sets a horrible example to have the US Treasury Secretary be a guy who doesn't pay his taxes properly. I'm not buying his excuses. If he's such a brilliant guy, he shouldn't have been dumb enough to do what he did.
Put Universal Health Care on the Backburner
This one hurts, but with the current economic mess we are in, it just isn't the time to push this through. We should try to set up a system that covers uninsured children in a more cost-effective way than Medicaid does, but that might be about all we can do right now.
I'm sure I pissed off about everybody with this list, but we are in really dire straits right now and we need to to have political leadership that is willing to look past what will get them elected next time. Since I don't feel very confident in Pelosi or Reid and have no confidence in Boehner and McConnell, I'm really hoping that Obama will be willing to make the tough choices Bush rarely ever did. I feel positive about him being up to the job, but I'm very pessimistic on the massive challenges we are set to face. Hopefully, I'm wrong and the next 4 years will be a positive place. Considering the way we have been running up our personal and government credit cards over the past 8 years, I'm not confident about that, though.