First 100 Days: What's Not To Like?

Wed, 29 Apr 2009 13:57:50 +0000

In five words, "Bailout in Lieu of Bankruptcy." The Geithner Treasury has continued the policies of the Paulson Treasury with regard to distressed institutions. Readers of the blog know that I am no fan of those policies and also no fan of the stimulus bills that have been proposed. (I was also hoping for something other than the same weak budget target of cutting the deficit in half in five years as the Bush administration adopted.) But I acknowledge that these are problems that originated in the prior administration and that President Obama's policies are, at worst, merely continuations of policies that began before he assumed office. I also acknowledge that there is no reason to believe that we would be in any better shape if Senator McCain had been inaugurated in January.

In the months between the election and Inauguration Day, I had a series of posts about what I thought Obama should do first. The entries were:

  1. Health Care Reform
  2. A Green Tax Swap
  3. A Large Public Works Plan
  4. Modernize the Electric Grid
  5. Rationalize and Reduce Defense Spending

I think that each one of these involved innovation relative to policies that have come before and that the President has built some momentum toward doing well in each of these areas over the course of the next 18-24 months. As Stan and Pete have indicated, the President remains quite popular and has weathered small missteps by his subordinates.

As I indicated in my last post, the problems facing the Republicans in Congress are fundamental -- they lack answers to the most important domestic public policy challenges and, perhaps not surprisingly, they have no obvious leader (to espouse their non-solutions). With popular support and without credible opposition, there is really no need to evaluate the first 100 days as if it were a make-or-break period. As long as people don't hold him directly responsible for news like this and the Democrats can keep control of the Congress, we should be guardedly optimistic about the President's ability to move through a sensible agenda.