4 Bold, Gutsy Moves Obama Can Make to Improve Our Lives, the Economy and His Poll Numbers
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The post-bin Laden afterglow is fading. Those video clips of his home movies seem like scenes from a reality show, not glimpses of an Existential Threat. It's the master terrorist as an addled Ozzy Osbourne, minus the Beverly Hills couturiers and groomers. And while a few people might wait for bin Laden to sing Ozzy's "Iron Man" -- "Nobody wants him/he just stares at the world, planning his vengeance" -- our attention-deficit nation is getting ready to move on.
Significantly, while the President's overall approval rating jumped 11 percent after the killing, his economic approval fell and reached a new low: Only 34 percent approved of his handling of the economy, while 55 percent disapproved.
People were happy to see 9/11 avenged, but there's another lesson in that 11% boost, too: The public wants its President to be clear-eyed, resolute, and able to make tough decisions under pressure. We know now that the President can be (and just as importantly, can appear to be) as steely-eyed and decisive as the best of them.
They can't kill Bin Laden again. Al Zawahiri's a distant number two, and after that the terrorists' names are so little-known that our national game of Call of Duty: Black Ops will quickly descend into Trivial Pursuit. So what's next? Hmmm: Steely-eyed. Calm under pressure. Making the tough calls ... wonder where else those Presidential skills might come in handy?
Here are four "bold" and "gutsy" moves the President can make right here at home that would be good for the country ... and good for him:
1. Nominate Elizabeth Warren as a recess appointment to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
The GOP handed this one to him when 44 Republican Senators signed a letter saying that they "will not support the consideration of any nominee, regardless of party affiliation," unless the Agency is watered down and restructured even more than it has been.
Now is the time to say "Look, guys: I'll negotiate whenever it's reasonable and fair. But we had a debate when we created this agency. We took some of your suggestions into consideration and then we had a vote. You lost. You can't re-legislate every law that's ever been passed by holding an agency hostage -- especially one that's designed to protect the public."
Now that's decisive and tough -- two things that Elizabeth Warren will be adding to the President's team in spades. They say she's bumped heads with senior White House officials. But strong leaders know that a little conflict can make a team stronger.
The President can also say: "What's next - ending Medicare by refusing to confirm a Secretary of Health and Human Services? I've spent the last two years making it clear that I'll negotiate with anybody -- except hostage takers. Call me when you're ready to talk. But I'm not waiting: Elizabeth Warren is running this agency. We don't have time for games."
2. Stand up for Medicare and Social Security.
And speaking of Medicare ... The public has decisively rejected the Republican plan to end Medicare and replace it with vouchers (a plan which Republicans, in an Alice-in-Wonderland rhetorical move, deny ends Medicare or even uses vouchers).
It's time for a bold, gutsy defense of Medicare that takes a firm stand against any cuts that would hurt seniors financially. Republicans and their allies keep saving its "brave" of them to contemplate plunging seniors into a future of economic deprivation and reduced access to medical care. This is the President's opportunity to explain what's really brave: Confronting the powerful interests that want to keep our health care system exactly as it is.