11/14/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Fourteen Changes Barack Obama Could Make in His First 30 Days

Some time ago, I found 194 things Barack Obama would do as President. I took them from the plethora of Obama policy papers in the issues area of the official Obama site. They are here and here.

There are many remarkable things about Barack Obama. Here are two:

First, Obama is a governance junkie. Somehow he knows how to jog the machine to do better. If he can infuse the huge federal engine with bite-sized, doable tasks that all link together somehow, he will be what we might call a mystery reformer -- a relatively low-key, undramatic force that renews and redirects a flaccid and ineffective establishment.

Second, Barack has his act together. Of course there will be changes. Of course there will be bends in the road and obstacles.


Years ago, Barack knew what needed to be done. These were not poll-driven incremental things like Clinton did to win points in an intractable political environment. They were a MENU of what could be done in an integral way, assuming just the sort of sea change the last two years of politics is bringing forth.

Here I offer a few samples from the many things Barack would do. Not because they are the most dramatic, but because they are things he could achieve by either executive action or administrative order (to a Cabinet department) or both.

Here, from the sources above:

Obama will reverse the politicization that has occurred in the Bush Administration's Department of Justice. He will put an end to the ideological litmus tests used to fill positions within the Civil Rights Division.

Obama will ban racial profiling by federal law enforcement agencies and provide federal incentives to state and local police departments to prohibit the practice.

Obama will dramatically simplify tax filings so that millions of Americans will be able to do their taxes in less than five minutes.

Obama will create a program to inform businesses about the benefits of flexible work schedules; help businesses create flexible work opportunities; and increase federal incentives for telecommuting.

Obama will also make the federal government a model employer in terms of adopting flexible work schedules and permitting employees to request flexible arrangements.

Obama will streamline the financial aid process by eliminating the current federal financial aid application and enabling families to apply simply by checking a box on their tax form, authorizing their tax information to be used, and eliminating the need for a separate application.

Obama will create an energy-focused Green Jobs Corps to connect disconnected and disadvantaged youth with job skills for a high-growth industry.

Obama will establish a goal of making all new buildings carbon neutral, or produce zero emissions, by 2030.

Obama will end abuse of no-bid contracts by requiring that nearly all contract orders over $25,000 be competitively awarded.

Obama will not sign any non-emergency bill without giving the American public an opportunity to review and comment on the White House website for five days.

Obama will bring democracy and policy directly to the people by requiring his Cabinet officials to have periodic national broadband townhall meetings to discuss issues before their agencies.

Obama will amend executive orders to ensure that communications about regulatory policymaking between persons outside government and all White House staff are disclosed to the public.

Obama will require his appointees who lead the executive branch departments and rulemaking agencies to conduct the significant business of the agency in public, so that any citizen can see in person or watch on the Internet these debates.

Obama will nullify the Bush attempts to make the timely release of presidential records more difficult.

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