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The Challenge awaiting Barack Obama to Restore Confidence

January 17th, 2009
"His role right now is so much about inspiring confidence and reassuring taxpayers about accountability," said Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo. "I think he is handling the first part of that masterfully."

"His role right now is so much about inspiring confidence and reassuring taxpayers about accountability," said Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo. "I think he is handling the first part of that masterfully."

Obama's tasks in the early days are going to be to instill confidence. He has to convey a sense that that 'we know what we're doing,' a sense of competence in addressing this crisis that has been lacking.

I think that's the big challenge because economists haven't dealt with these kinds of things and policymakers haven't dealt with anything of this magnitude.

While spurring the economy back to life, Obama will be risking his political capital to further prop up the banking system. That will involve distributing the second half of the $700 billion set aside for financial firms, when that becomes available, and doing it in a more effective and transparent way than the first half was spent.

The incoming administration has provided scant details on how that will happen and we can only hope that Obama's approach would bring "the transparency, the accountability and the oversight that is currently lacking.

Soon after President-elect Barack Obama is sworn in, the world will demand that he articulate a new American stand on the war in the Gaza Strip, the ever-challenging Middle East, Pakistan with its unstable government, to define our effort in the Afghanistan war and in general his plans to makeover our foreign policy to restore America's reputation around the world.

When Americans lose their jobs, they lose their employee-sponsored health care, and many are then unable to afford any health care at all because of the high cost of premiums under COBRA, the system set up to assist laid-off workers.

For now, it appears that Obama is pursuing "down payments" on health care reform by expanding the number of people covered and is calling for shifting more of the costs of health care, particularly for catastrophic coverage, to the government.

There is the challenge that Barack Obama faces about our environment. In confirmation hearings last week for her new job as secretary of state, Hillary Rodham Clinton asserted that President-elect Barack Obama would lead "a global and coordinated response" to climate change.

There is little likelihood that Obama will want to proceed this year with cap-and-trade legislation to reduce the growth in greenhouse gas emissions For now it appears that Obama and the Congress are moving forward to generate "green jobs" with programs that have environmental and energy efficiency benefits. Last weekend, the transition office released a study projecting that 459,000 jobs would be generated by the end of next year in the $775 billion economic stimulus plan he envisions.

The challenges of Barack Obama's burdens will be great. Last year's mortgage meltdown and stock market plunge has left the republic shaky financially, with the worst unemployment in two decades. One war, in Afghanistan, is sure to escalate, while another, in Iraq, winds down slowly in a region that remains dangerously unstable. And volatile gas prices, global warming and spiraling health care costs also threaten.

Obama is fond of saying that a president ought to be able to do more than one thing at a time. He'd better be right about that.

Baby Boomers are optimistic!

JUST FOR BABY BOOMERS: Share your experiences, remembrances and opinions about "The Challenge awaiting Barack Obama to Restore Confidence" with other Baby Boomers on our "Baby Boomer Forum"

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Article by:
Dean Burns



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