We're starting to look ahead to the First 100 Days of the Obama presidency. Already, we're hearing calls in the mainstream media warning the new administration "not to overreach." And working overtime, the Inside-the-Beltway Punditocracy continues to reveal its ability to ignore reality–even while describing itself as "realist"–with its claims that this is still a center-right nation, despite all evidence to the contrary.
But as Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman writes in the New York Times, "Let's hope that Mr. Obama has the good sense to ignore this advice...this year's presidential election was a clear referendum on political philosophies–and the progressive philosophy won."
Obama himself his talked about needing to measure his accomplishments over the first 1,000 Days, rather than 100, given the problems he has inherited from arguably the worst president ever (my words, not Obama's). Indeed, it will take years to undo the damage of the Bush administration and the conservative ideology that has dominated this country for nearly thirty years. But the First 100 Days are still crucial–not only in signaling to the American people and the world that the administration will take determined steps to repair this nation–but there is a historical precedent for the need to move forward expeditiously in order to seize the moment and the mandate.
President Obama will need to be bold to deal with the challenges he faces: a cratering economy, broken healthcare system, two wars, poverty and inequality, and the stained US reputation in the world. The millions who were mobilized and inspired by Obama's campaign and candidacy also have their work cut out for them–continuing to drive a bold agenda to respond to these crises–just as progressives have in recent years on the war, energy independence, trade, healthcare, and other issues that are defining the new "center" of American politics and hearts and minds.
Here is a list of actions–ones I care deeply about–that President Obama can take in the First 100 Days to immediately achieve real and significant change. Some of these he can literally achieve on Day 1 with the stroke of a pen, others will demand coalition building and an inside-outside strategy to push legislation. Many of these ideas are drawn from good groups like the Center for Constitutional Rights, Amnesty International USA, the Apollo Alliance, and Public Citizen. You may have others and I'd welcome hearing yours – just post a comment.
Bush Executive Orders: As Obama himself said of his first 100 days when campaigning in Denver, "I would call my attorney general in and review every single executive order issued by George Bush and overturn those laws or executive decisions that I feel violate the constitution."
Economic Stimulus: Stop the bleeding–through expanded health and unemployment benefits and providing real aid to beleaguered state and local governments so they can sustain essential public services.
Iraq: Present plan and hold to your time line for withdrawal.
Health Care Reform: Begin immediately by expanding health insurance to kids and passing the State Children's Health Insurance Program legislation vetoed by Bush.
Women's Health and Reproductive Rights: Repeal the Global Gag Rule that requires NGOs receiving federal funding to neither promote nor perform abortions in other countries.
Energy and the Economy: Announce a clean energy strategy that will reduce oil dependence, address global warming, create thousands of green jobs, and improve national security. Groups like the Apollo Alliance, Center for American Progress, and Natural Resources Defense Council have strong and concrete plans in this regard. Incorporate elements of this plan into stimulus package.
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