QUESTION: How would you shape the first 100 days of the incoming administration? What issues would you want tackled during this time?
Once again, OffTheBus readers make me proud! Your responses ranged from a few words to novellas, from the basest of concerns to goals so lofty they need a string tied to them to keep them in sight. I enjoyed reading all of them--there were a lot--and, once again, I am not able to publish every take.
I have analyzed the data in two ways, first noting that 158 respondents named 304 issues to tackle in the first 100 days. Many of you featured one issue. Many of you also had five, six, even nine in their replies, even though we just needed your top three!
I broke the replies down by how many respondents named that category. The Top Ten on the list follow. The Economy was the #1 issue with 57 mentions. Your #2 task is to get to work on the wars with 43 of you placing it in your replies. Your #3 issue is Healthcare, with 24 mentions. Civil Rights restoration takes the #4 slot, with 22. The #5, with 19 mentions, slot was surprising as I did not expect this to make it into the top 10 -- investigating and prosecuting the ENTIRE Bush Administration. You guys are pissed! Education came in at #6 with 16 highlights. Energy and Infrastructure issues ties for #7 with 15 mentions each. Position #8 is also a tie between Foreign Policy and Corruption in Government, such as lobbying, both getting 14 nods. The #9 spot is the environment with only 8 mentions, shocking to see this so low. The last of the hit parade is closing Guantanamo Bay with 7 replies.
Three other replies caught my eye: one that proposes a Bush pardon, one that invokes a Hillary supporter's statement that I liked and one on bi-partisanship. Additionally, one which just made me laugh.
The rest of the replies look like this:
Tax issues 7
Reaching across the aisle 5
DOJ investigation 3
Election Reform 3
Faith-based program review 3
Prison reform 3
Social Security 3
Corporate personhood 2
Fireside chats 2
Media Reform 2
9/11 investigation 1
Bin Laden capture 1
Congressional oversight 1
Cuban relations 1
Gay Rights 1
Homeland Security 1
Iran engagement 1
Latin America 1
National Service initiative 1
Now for Your Take:
On the Economy:
Carol Noel proposes one way to save money: "...I canceled all of the Inauguration Festivities in lieu of the economic situation (the 'swearing in' would be a Private Ceremony on National TV) and after I made it very clear that Lobbyists would not be welcome on the Hill..."
Jim Yost says: "...Amend the bankruptcy law to provide protection for personal residence."
Alan Harvey says: "...The original "first one hundred days" refers to that period in the administration of FDR when he declared a bank holiday, sent in the auditors, closed down the insolvent ones and set the others back out to do business on newly firmer ground. The same sort of thing needs to be done here. But this time we need to also rein in and organize the shadow banking system of hedge funds, private equity, broker-dealers, mortgage originators and servicers, and other unregulated quasi-banks. And we need to mimic the ruthlessness of Wall Street and matter-of-factness of Roosevelt as we do it..."
On the Wars:
Linda Ferrero says: "Ahhhh, my first day in the President's chair. So comfy. Think I'll just let my head fall back, stretch out a bit, this campaign has been pretty grueling. Zzzzzzzz Snork Wha? Oh, you want to know the first three things I'd do my first day as Prez, sorry. Was I drooling? Geez, there's all these different phones with different colors. Which one is the one direct to Iraq? The mauve one? Okay, get me al-Maliki on the line. Ring ring ring Hi, Mr. Maliki? You want to set a date to get US forces out of your country? Yeah, me too. Better for both of our countries. Let's fax, Okay?"
K Sandersen quite succinctly says: "end war in Iraq; end war in Afghanistan; end next war"('Nuff said!)
Kevin Neighbors says: "01/26/2009 Order an end to all combat operations in Iraq. Order US commanders to begin moving contractors, U.S. personnel, stockpiles and heavy ordinance to the border. 01/27/2009 Address the American citizens over every commercial radio and television outlet simultaneously to inform us of the order to end the occupation of Iraq..."
Ruby Bernstein relates: "As I sit here in a wheelchair, after a simple bedroom fall, that resulted in a fractured hip, followed by two infections, I realize how fortunate I am to have health insurance. So in my administration let's get busy with Single Payer Health Insurance."
Padma Atluri says: "It all comes back to health care. The economy has left Americans alone with the pit of their stomach. The pit that has lead them to the doctor with increased hypertension, mental health distress, not to mention the last and most distressing exit strategy: suicide..."
Ilona Middleton says: "...I would appoint Hillary Clinton to work with the leaders of successful health care programs throughout the world and come up with a system that will benefit this country and others, with an eye to taking the system out of the hands of insurance and drug companies..."
On Civil Rights Restoration:
Scott O'Sullivan says: "My top priority on day one would be to sign several executive orders banning torture, banning the warrantless wiretapping of U.S. citizens at home and abroad and the immediate closure of Guantanamo. I believe that executive orders to this effect would send a strong message to the nation and to the world that the rule of law is back in the United States..."
Charles Swanson says: "From my standpoint, WITHOUT OUR RIGHTS, everything else, including the economy, is pointless..."
Vigilant says: "Reinstate habeas corpus, order immediate investigation into Justice Dept. All Bush/Cheney staff put on immediate list of anti American Activities. Rescind all presidential signing statements, order immediate prosecution of all in wire tapping scandal if possible the past most definitely the here and now..."
On Investigating/Prosecuting the Bush Administration:
Daniel M Summerford says: "Inauguration Day Immediately after the swearing-in, on the stage, President Obama signs the arrest warrants for George Bush, Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, George Tenet, Donald Rumsfeld, et al, who are immediately sent to detention at Guantanamo Bay for crimes against humanity. Charges will be filed, in 100 days. Party!"
Jo has this opinion: "We must secondly demand that the unconstitutional signings by the previous corporate driven managements be revoked and those who committed the acts and violations be brought up on charges, not only because they committed crimes against the people and the constitution, but as a warning to the new management that the people will no longer tolerate acts of contempt and criminality against "we the people" and our laws. That absolutely NO ONE is above the laws of the land and any attempt at changing or circumventing said laws will be handled according to the original laws..."
John Harwood has a different take: "He further needs to set up a commission to investigate the more egregious acts of the Bush Administration, for the purpose of correcting those acts, not for prosecution, unless it is very clear that laws were broken..."
On the Education issue:
Lloyd Skole says: "My top priority would be a thorough examination of the education system addressing each states conformity to existing standards. On the basis of this examination, nationwide standards would be developed and implemented so that no matter where a student lived, the student would be equipped to develop to the best of his ability."
Kelly Cheatle says: "The great leveler of the playing field, and the safety net of our collective future. The school year should be just that- all year long. The current school schedule is farming-based, very few of our students are employed in the summer months working the family farm. Propose a 4 & 1 day school program where students attend their typical class schedule M-Th, and on Fri have the opportunity for self-directed exploration, internship, apprenticeship etc. This not only will help our children discover what inspires them, but will help to alleviate some of the stresses of summer childcare on working families..."
On Energy policy:
Robert Crabtree says: "I'm at my desk. My chief of staff is holding the phone. It's that Huffington lady. She wants to know what your top three priorities for your first 100 days are? Give me that. Hello? You got your tape recorder on?... Gas engines will be phased out over two years. Wind and solar energy will be launched full steam ahead into our mainstream lives. Desalinization plants will be built up and down both coasts and water will be pumped into reservoirs built into the hills and mountains and valleys and lakes so that when the melting polar ice would otherwise flood all sea level land it will instead be used to irrigate even the deserts... I hang up. My chief of staff is holding another phone. Sean Hannity wants to know why you hate America..."
Anonymous adds: "President Obama needs to begin the task of explaining to American's that our consumption of energy is a risk to our economy and our national security. Americans need to consider it their patriotic duty to conserve energy immediately. President Obama needs to pass some tax incentives for the purchase of hybrid cars and cars that get over 35 mpg highway. Our goal needs to be a 25% reduction in gasoline consumption within 5 years and a 50% reduction in 10 years. The conservation of electricity must be our patriotic duty as well so that we can convert some of our transportation to electric without crashing our existing infrastructure. In addition, President Obama should offer tax incentive and work programs to assist in the conservation of energy and the production of alternative energy such as insulation, replacement windows, solar panels and wind mills. The government should make some funds available in the form of grants for the development of solar energy and geo thermal heating and cooling systems..."
Michael Hammermeister says: "A back to work initiative, focusing on the infrastructure. Rebuilding bridges, roads, waterways, dams, levies, and water reservoirs. Bringing in the equipment tools that we manufacture here in all the tool works and vacated big machinery companies that have left for overseas production. Simple you betcha!"
Rob Boss says: "My litmus test comes from my belief that the government is responsible for few things, but one of them is infrastructure. Put the word infrastructure up next to every issue that comes across the desk for the first hundred days, and see what sticks and what doesn't. Roads, airports, wireless internet, all are infrastructure products that give Americans the tools they need to be successful..."
Pat Tibbs adds: "We must begin to develop jobs if we are to conquer this recession so the first order of business should be to put mega bucks into infrastructure. There are 5000 public works projects throughout the country (per Nancy Pelosi) just waiting for funding; the kind of projects that will build highways, bridges, etc and that are ready to go as soon as they are funded. It's the quickest way to create jobs, stimulate the economy, and rebuild badly neglected our infrastructure."
On Government Corruption:
Kelly Feller says: "I think the most pressing challenge facing the new administration is to restore faith and trust in our government at home and abroad. Rarely has there been a time in history when the United States was seen as a hindrance to progress, rather than a helper. ..I like Obama's plan to make government more transparent through greater online access to important documents and decisions..."
Brian Pendleton says: "Executive Order No. 1: No lobbying in private. All lobbying to the Federal government must take place in a public forum, subject to transcription..."
On Foreign Policy:
Virginia Paresa says: "... First, I would measure the damn drapes just like John McCain suggested. It would feel so good to do an extreme makeover on the Oval Office, starting with a really updated window treatment. Second, I'd make calls to the leaders of all the countries we have relations with, apologizing for the last eight years of mistakes and ask them for a do-over..."
Michele Reynolds says: "...a world repair tour of diplomacy. The big I AM SORRY TOUR complete with US made souvenirs to raise even more money and create more jobs will be locked and loaded!"
Judy M. Stephenson adds: "In all areas, economic, foreign affairs, education, energy, etc. there needs to be a conference type of meeting with the best minds available on all sides of the issue to determine the problems, causes and history, and then determine potential solutions--the people involved need to include academics, statesmen and stateswomen, authors, scientists, philosophers, spiritual leaders--and the brave, willing, smart "Joe the plumber" types. These people involved in these conferences to problem solve should be flexible, open-minded, courageous, determined and free of greed..."
On the Environment:
L. Loeks says: "What does it matter if all the Crisis are solved if there isn't a habitable planet to live on??? Our selfish use of resources and Empire building are distracting us from the biggest challenge humans have ever faced. The US and especially the Executive Branch need to wake up and smell the coffee while there is still coffee to smell. To do otherwise is short sighted and irresponsible."
Charly says: "I implore the new president to make a simple executive order in the first days to place a moratorium on logging within 200 feet of any trees on federal lands over 200 years, as well as a moratorium on the destruction of any old growth forest on federal lands. There are only small areas of old growth forest remaining in the eastern United States, and G.W. Bush opened most of these areas up for logging..."
On the status of Guantanamo Bay:
Jan McGirk says: "Immediately, the next president should abolish the disgraceful Gulag at Guantanamo Bay and expedite trials or repatriation for these prisoners. (Bring back habeas corpus, in other words). .."
Marc Johnson says: "The very first thing I would do is move to re-establish the tenets of our American freedoms and governance that are least controversial and most quickly implemented: 1. Close Guantanamo Bay and other foreign prisons..."
On Reaching Across the Aisle:
Mark Fraley says: "...I believe it is vital that the incoming administration make it a policy to have appointments from all sides republican, democrat and independents. This country has been ravaged by divisiveness over the past years and moving on would be healing to our economy, foreign relations, etc. etc..."
R.W. Sanders adds: "Considering the terrible divisions in our nation, appointing Colin Powell as Secretary of Defense might be a good first step. Though having served as a republican, most democrats respect his military knowledge and would probable consider it a good move. I'm channeling Doris Kerns Goodwin's "Team of Rivals" thinking of Lincoln making use of opposing viewpoints to make wiser decisions."
On Pardoning Bush:
David Savard opines: "I'd like to see a pardon for all crimes committed, or that may have been committed, by George W. Bush. This does a lot of things: It preserves the honor of office of the President. It shows everyone that Obama knows what we all know, i.e. that Bush is a criminal. Third, it means it is open season on everyone else, Cheney included, since we're now just looking for wrong doing, not trying to destroy Bush..."
On Direction in general
Carol Evenson says: "My top priority would be to learn my way around the White House."
And, finally, this just made me laugh
Dennis Sweatt says: "...Visit Area 51, heh. Order as many turkey sandwiches as I want from the kitchen..."
Even though I am repeating myself, I am so happy that you are contributing to this effort. I have been able to realize the objective I had for this column with very little prodding. You all have lots to say and now have the forum to do so.
Please keep an eye out for the next challenge as I will be posting these up until Election Day and feel free to continue the conversation utilizing the comments section below.