24 March 2010

What the President Needs to Do

Since taking office on January 20, 2009, President Obama has yet to address the nation from the Oval Office. By contrast, President Reagan spoke from there at least three or four times during his first 15 months as president, mainly in an effort to get Americans behind his economic program. Oh, Mr. Obama has addressed the nation by way of press conferences and weekly radio/internet speeches, but the majesty of the Oval Office carries a certain weight that the President would do well to flaunt right about now.

With the wind at his back following the passage of health insurance reform, Obama has regained enough political capital to make the case for two of the most important issues to Americans today: Banking reform and jobs.

Now that health care is a done deal (save the fixes that are making their way through the Senate), President Obama and both houses of congress should focus on those two issues every day, all day, seven days a week. Americans want to know that their government officials are doing everything they can to put our nation's job market back on steady footing, and that the banks that hold their money will never again be allowed to play the games they played from 1981 to 2008.

And the best way to put these issues front and center would be for the President of the United States to lay out his plans on those two issues in a speech from the Oval Office.

Now, if he does it he needs to go all in. On these issues half measures won't do. He needs to ignore the Republicans and offer up a rock solid jobs bill worth about $50 billion (if not more), as well as a major finanical bill that seriously regulates how the banks handle the hard-earned money we Americans keep there. He needs to explain, in basic terms, that while the Great Recession may be over officially, the jobs market seems to be stuck in a rut, and that a giant infusion of cash for highway and other infrastructure jobs could be the spark that gets things moving again. As for banking reform, I doubt most Americans would disagree that the banks need some serious slapping around.

So, Mr. President...I know there is still alot on your plate, and that education reform and climate change are issues very near and dear to your heart. But with mid-terms right around the corner and Americans keeping an eye on that unemployment rate, YOUR focus for the next several months needs to be on these two issues - at least publicly. Let the appropriate cabinet officers do the heavy lifting on the other domestic issues until after the elections.

For now, the first two words out of your mouth when you get up in the morning and the last two words out of your mouth when you go to bed at night should be "jobs" and "banking."

And you should say those words several times during a major prime time speech from the Oval Office.