Yes, I know, lots of people have opinions on what other people should be doing. However, I have a lot of spare time on my hands, so here's the ideas that I've come up with. The majority of them don't even require Congressional approval.
Tell the Republicans to forget about any “grand bargain”: The smartest move Obama can make here is do nothing; just let those tax cuts expire. The party's over, and it's time to get serious about balancing the budget. There's two wars and a Wall Street bailout to pay for, and the people who benefited from these actions should help pay for them. Returning to Clinton-style taxation levels and balanced budgets will pay major benefits to Democratic candidates in 2014 and 2016, because it will take away the only issue the Republicans have left besides abortion.
Obama got suckered on this last time; he shouldn't let this happen again. Demonstrating fiscal responsibility will pay a huge benefit by restoring confidence in the Government.
Turn the IRS loose: Some horrible things were done by some filthy rich people during this past election season. The worst examples, other than Donald Trump's promotion of blatantly racist “birtherism”, were Peter Bos, David Siegel, David Robertson, Charles and David Koch, and Jennifer Anderson, who told their employees to vote for Romney.
People who behave like assholes should be treated like assholes. The IRS should go over their tax returns very carefully, and if they've broken laws, prosecute them without mercy.
Mitt Romney should not be excluded from this, because he asked these people to take this action. We know for a fact that when Romney took tax deductions for “contributions” to the Mormon Church, these contributions actually went into an annuity that he and his family will collect from. In other words, he gave to himself. If he's done something illegal, nail him.
And speaking of churches, did you know that existing IRS regulations stipulate that churches can lose their tax-exempt status if they are involved in partisan politcal activity? Now would be a good time to take enforcement of this seriously. If it turns out that the Roman Catholic Church is one of the offenders, it should be treated the same way as the Church at Pierce Creek. (Article on this subject by Nanette Byrnes of Reuters.)
Steven Miller is set to become interim Commissioner of the IRS. It shouldn't be difficult to explain to him how he can ensure his appointment as permanent Commissioner.
Get serious about election reform: We know that Obama will get to appoint several Supreme Court justices, which was the best single reason for voting for him this time around. As soon as he replaces two of the justices that voted for Citizens United, a similar case should be brought before the Supreme Court so that the revised Court can reverse this mistake. It's a lot easier to do it this way than to get a constitutional amendment passed.
That's step one. Step two should be to champion legislation to prohibit states from holding caucuses or primaries before mid-February. Canada and the UK manage to get by with election campaigns that last only a month. The US should at least be able to limit them to nine months.
Steps three and four will have to wait until after the 2014 election, when some more of the Republican nutbars in the House of Representatives get replaced. Step three is, the 1965 Voting Rights Act needs some revisions. Outlaw unreasonable voter ID requirements, set minimum requirements for advance voting dates and places, and set severe penalties for voter intimidation and deliberate efforts to deceive voters about polling places and voting requirements. And most of all (step four), outlaw robo-calls, and require that all methods of voting provide an audit trail. Put another way, if the votes can't be recounted, you can't use voting machines. If that means going back to paper ballots, well, replacing paper ballots with machines was a solution looking for a problem. And put some reasonable limits on spending in Presidential and Congressional election campaigns, including nomination contests.
Eliminate the Ethanol mandate: The Federal subsidies for growing corn to produce ethanol are, thankfully, gone. Unfortunately, the worldwide price of corn has gone up because of the requirement that gasoline must contain ethanol. The mandate creates an artificial demand for corn; “artificial” because it makes no sense to put ethanol in gasoline for any other reason. It takes more energy to produce a gallon of ethanol than the energy that gallon produces after it goes into the gas tank.
More than 150 members of the House and 25 Senators have asked Obama to suspend the ethanol mandate. (Article by Bloomberg.) Here's Obama's chance to provide “change we can believe in.”
Go for single payer: The Republicans thought they could beat Obama by promising to “repeal Obamacare”. It didn't work. However, health care reform wasn't as big an asset for the Democrats as it could have been, because we don't get real savings on health care costs until the insurance companies are taken out of the equation.
The problem here is, the health insurance industry has a lot of friends in Congress. However, there will be fewer of them in 2013 than there were in 2009 and 2010. What needs to happen is, make single-payer an issue in the 2014 election, and get enough single-payer supporters elected.
Obama needs to show some leadership in this. He's already identified with “Obamacare”, so it's worth his while to make it a higher-quality product. And, if he can't round up enough votes to get this done, his successor could be Hilary Clinton, and she could finish the job.
This article also published here