I voted for Barack Obama and I, as most Americans should, really want to see him succeed. But I would be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed in his presidency. When markets were in the midst of a full out panic yesterday, President Obama gave an uninspired speech about the overall strength of the US economy. Same old song. And the Republicans have very little to offer except indiscriminate budget cuts and vitriol.
President Obama stated: “It’s not a lack of plans or policies that is the problem here.” Bullshit. It is precisely the lack of a plan that has so many Americans worried. And the great divide between tax hikes and budget cuts is unlikely to be bridged soon. So what to do?
I once represented a woman who was trying to negotiate a severance from a company she had helped to start. Her previous lawyer told her that she was being unreasonable and refused to continue. There were many issues including trade secrets, non-competes, severance pay, vested and non-vested stock, and value. When she came to see me she gave me the most recent letter from opposing counsel which was several pages in length and served as the “framework” for the negotiations. After talking with her for about an hour I shredded the letter. We started over. We were not going to continue to use an ineffective framework. We were going to set forth what we wanted. We were going to frame the issues. We were going to own the debate. This new approach was met with great resistance at first. We knew it would be. But eventually the framework we chose led to a settlement.
That’s what President Obama needs to do. Go big. Change the debate. Start something new. Lead.
Announce that the government is going to work with the Bill Gates Foundation and other non-profits to address the education debacle and graduate 100,000 scientists and engineers from inner city schools in the next 10 years. Establish a private/public partnership that will explore whether there needs to be a flat tax or a radically simplified tax code. Unveil a 10 point pledge that is aimed at addressing the current economic calamity. Stop with all of this bullshit over whether we should allow the Bush tax cuts to expire or cut $2.7 trillion from future budgets or raise the debt ceiling. Appoint a committee to study twenty second century job needs and commensurate educational programs. (You are automatically disqualified from serving on the committee if you’ve ever appeared on Fox News or MSNBC.)
Two months ago I believed that Obama would certainly win re-election. That was before the latest market meltdown. Americans will put up with a great deal from politicians. But the loss of jobs and money are two things we will not abide.
So, President Obama, I would like to see you change the debate and, as a result, own the debate. In other words go big. Or go home.