While I hesitate to write posts about what I think should happen, in this case I think it's warranted as a discussion-starter about how to keep the momentum moving in our direction.
With that in mind, here are five things I think the president and his advisers should do right away:
- Re-open the fight to close Guantanamo - This has been a thorn in the side of everyone for too long. While it's understandable that there were other priorities in his first term, this should be part of the deal he makes with the budget or with the defense reauthorization act.
- Take Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security off the table entirely - As talk about the "fiscal cliff" heats up and pressure is brought to bear, it would be good for the White House to remember that his voters who just delivered his second term trust him to save those programs, not alter them. That means no age extensions, no benefit cuts. Take them off the table altogether. Period.
If any alteration is considered, it should only be one that raises the wage base to a level that funds Social Security benefit increases at current retirement ages.
- Push back on Republicans' NDAA poison pills - Republicans will continue to insert poison language into the defense reauthorization acts which are anathema to progressives, such as codifying detention provisions, etc. One of the benefits of this election was to elect Senators who better than some of the ones who left, like Ben Nelson and Joe Lieberman, for example. So let's not allow the games with the indefinite detentions to continue, please?
- Push Harry Reid for meaningful filibuster reform - I don't think I need to explain this further than to say the way to make the Senate meaningful is to stop these ridiculous filibuster efforts, at least to the extent that the vote becomes an up or down vote on the measure itself instead of a supermajority to even consider it.
- Carry through on the promise to address voting issues - Enough is enough. Both sides had nothing but complaints about voting machines, lines, and early voting. Way too much time was wasted on the early voting process, and Secretaries of State like Ohio's Husted should be run out on a rail for their efforts to block our democratic process. Do an Ireland, toss the voting machines out and figure out a better way with a more honest and transparent process.
These things are not hard, and they would appeal to President Obama's progressive base as well as to the moderates who joined with them to make his re-election possible and build enthusiasm toward getting a better Congress elected in 2014 and another Democrat in 2016.
The two major fights I'd like to see happen in the next four years are immigration reform and a real climate change initiative. The first might be possible, if John Boehner is to be believed. The second might take a more solid majority in the Senate and taking back the House, unless some Republicans are ready to leave their comfy bubble and live in the real world. To that end, Governor Christie might be a helpful advocate.
What are your ideas? Fiscal cliff aside, what do you see as things to do in the short and long term?
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