Tomorrow is Inauguration Day, the day President Obama will be officially sworn in as President of the United States. This will be an historic day for the US, and the world will be watching President Obama and his family as he ascends into one of the most powerful jobs in the world. And he has his work cut out for him. In addition to being the Commander in Chief of the world’s most powerful military, President Obama will be in charge of running one of the world’s preeminent economies; an economy that is in the midst of a crisis.
Here are some of the pressing issues facing Americans; President Obama’s to do list, if you will.
The US and world economy are in the midst of the worst financial crisis that most people have witnessed. There are thousands of problems, and no easy solutions. Here are a few areas to concentrate on for the next few years:
Stabilize the stock markets. The stock market bled off roughly 40% of it’s value in 2008. The financial crisis has been felt worldwide and new problems are arising on an almost daily basis. The most important thing at this point is stabilizing the markets, which is no easy task. Until the markets stabilize, many people will not be willing to inject more capital into equities, causing equities to continue to lose value.
Stabilize the banking system. Along with the real estate markets, the banking system is one of the hardest hit sectors during this recession. Quite a few major banks have folded and we may see several more fold before all is said and done. In response to the crisis we have seen the FDIC raise it’s insurance limits to convince people to leave their money deposited with the banks, and we have seen billions of dollars given to banks in the form of loans, write offs, and in exchange for equity. Until the banking system is stabilized, the credit crunch will continue to affect people and businesses. Which leads us to our next concern – unemployment.
Stem unemployment. Over 2 million Americans lost their jobs last year, and the numbers continue to climb. There are estimates that almost a million more people may file for unemployment insurance benefits in the coming year. Many companies simply don’t have the cash flow to continue operations – which means they need to lay people off or even shut their doors for good. We need to find a way to decrease te unemployment rate and the growing ranks of the unemployed.
Create jobs. Creating jobs is part of your American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan. And I think it is a great idea. While campaigning, your goal was to create 2 million more jobs, and you recently increased the goal to 3 million new jobs. This is a grand task, and I hope you can pull it off. Some of the jobs you want to create include rebuilding bridges, repairing and building new roads, computerizing the health care system, updating school labs and libraries, and increasing green energy initiatives. There will be many opportunities in these areas. So let’s get started!
Another Stimulus Check? Last year, President Bush’s Administration sent the American public an economic stimulus check to try and stimulate the economy by increasing spending. There have been rumblings of a second economic stimulus check in 2009, but we haven’t heard anything definitive yet. The stimulus plan proposed by your administration calls for a tax credit which will reduce the amount of taxes withheld from paychecks throughout the year. This will increase cash flow for millions of taxpayers, even if it is not quite the same as a stimulus check.
Health Care Reform
Health care is a touchy subject in America. There is much that can be improved about our health care system, but there are no clear answers as how that should be done. While I don’t think we need to socialize health care through a universal health care program, I believe we need health care reform. The most important issue – to make health care and health insurance more affordable.
Health insurance. One big problem is that health insurance is almost always tied to employment in the US. We need to make it easier for uninsured, self-employed, and small businesses to group together to get discounts on health insurance. We need to make it easier for health care companies to compete for business across state lines. When insurance companies compete for business, the consumer wins. And that means more people can afford health care, which will decrease the number of people who rely on government assistance.
Health care records. One of your goals is to standardize medical records and update the health care computer system. I think this is a great goal. Standardization will likely be a complicated and expensive endeavor, but one that will pay dividends in the long run. It should lower administrative costs and reduce errors – errors that could have devastating impacts on patients’ health. Your goal is ambitious, President Obama, and I hope you succeed.
Renewable energy is more than just a catch phrase. It should be a model that the United States works toward until we can lessen our reliance on foreign fuels and expensive electricity created by polluting our nation with coal and its byproducts. We should look at countries like France and Brazil as role models and find ways to create a surplus of energy so we too can become exporters of energy instead of importers of energy.
Solar and wind energy are free resources that need we need to tap into more than we are currently doing. Yes, the infrastructure is expensive, but as technology improves and is mass produced, costs will drop, making the infrastructure less expensive to install and operate. We also need to improve automobile fuel efficiency and decrease our reliance on foreign fossil fuels. The less money we spend on foreign fuels, the more money that stays in the US, which will work toward decreasing trade deficits.
Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan
I like your American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan. It is ambitious and addresses some of the key concerns of the American public. I admire your willingness to reach across party lines and work toward a common goal – improving our nation. We, as a nation have a lot of work ahead of us, and I believe we can achieve great things.
For those who are not yet familiar with it, here is Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan, as addressed to the nation: