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October 19, 2010

Jon Walker: What Obama Could Do Now

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This is my response to the question of what Obama could do now to address the country’s current problems, without the need to pass a bill through Congress:

  1. If the Senate refuses to move forward with confirmations, recess appoint members to the Federal Reserve Board who state clearly and unequivocally that they believe the Board’s mandate for full employment is their paramount concern.
  2. Safely but quickly remove all troops and private contractors from Iraq and Afghanistan. The “war” in Afghanistan lacks any clear reason, goals, or definition for victory. Any nation-building paid for by the government should be in Kansas, not Kabul.
  3. Have the HHS declare prescription drug re-importation safe and/or grant every American a blanket waiver while setting up programs to help them import prescriptions for personal use. Continue this until drug companies agrees to reduce our extremely high prescription drug prices to roughly the OCED average.
  4. Suspend all firings under “Don’t ask Don’t Tell.” (Yes Obama has the authority as Commander in Chief .)
  5. Turn up regulator investigations in the banking sector. Clearly wide spread fraud has occurred. Individuals and businesses that took part in this fraud should face the full force of the law. Moral hazard and the basic rule of law needs to be restored in the system
  6. Give government-controlled Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac the top goal of refinancing their loans to prevent foreclosures, and make homeowners capable of staying in their homes. Possibly create a rent-to-own program. Also, offer special energy efficiency retrofitting low-interest loans to increase employment while reducing greenhouse gases.
  7. Protect net neutrality by instructing the FCC to reclassify broadband as a telecommunications service.
  8. Promise to veto any attempt to extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy.  Take the deficit spending the Republican want to create by giving tax cuts to millionaires and instead use it to pay for jobs programs and broad, temporary tax rebates for regular Americans.
  9. Direct the FDA to re-examine its marijuana policy, and change it from  a Schedule I drug to a Schedule II, III, or IV drug.  This would allow all patients to use marijuana for medical purposes. Currently as a Schedule I drug, marijuana can’t be prescribed by doctors.   For example cocaine, opium, amphetamines, Ketamine, and morphine are all Schedule II or III.  This change would not not make marijuana legal for recreation use.
  10. State clearly that getting American back to work will be the country’s overwhelming priority, and that we will use any and all authority to embrace any reasonable idea to deal with the current unemployment problem. As part of this effort, call a meeting of economists to publicly present the ideas they have to quickly increase employment.

Jobs creation is the top concern for Americans right now, and it is near criminal that we don’t have more members on the board of the Federal Reserve who are committed to fulfilling their mandate to increase employment.  Ending the waste would be a massive step towards reduce our deficit. Drug re-importation, ending DADT and medical marijuana are supported by overwhelming majorities of Americans.  The list above is not only smart policy, but also represent smart political moves that Obama is fully capable of taking.

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