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Thread: 10 decisions for Barack Obama's next 100 days

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    Elite Member kingcap72's Avatar
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    Default 10 decisions for Barack Obama's next 100 days

    They might be less dizzying than the first 100, but President Barack Obama’s second 100 days in office could prove just as vital to his legacy.
    By Day 200 – August 7 — the president will know if hopeful spring signs presaged an economic recovery, whether he’s on course to pass comprehensive health care and energy legislation, if his initial foray into Middle East peacemaking brings any results, and if he’s succeeded in getting banks and automakers off life-support.
    The White House is carefully preparing for all these issues, but they got a reminder this week that the best laid plans are often upended by unpredictable events.
    The decision by Sen. Arlen Specter to switch from Republican to Democrat could play a pivotal role in at least two big-ticket issues on Capitol Hill – and that’s only the first of what may be other X-factors in the weeks ahead. Here’s a look at 10 key decisions Obama faces in the next 100 days:

    1. Will Obama fire another CEO by Monday?
    When President Barack Obama fired General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner, the task fell to car czar Steven Rattner, who delivered the news to Wagoner in the Treasury building.
    So Citigroup’s Vikram Pandit and Bank of America’s Ken Lewis might want to steer clear of Treasury over the next week.
    Both men run banks that might need massive infusions of capital when Treasury announces the “stress test” results on Monday. But Obama’s price for government help might just be the head of another CEO.
    That could open him up Republican charges that he’s meddling in free enterprise. But politically, a financial firing would go a long way toward helping the Obama push back against complaints he’s been hard on the auto sector and easy on Wall Street. Just don’t expect Obama to deliver the news in person.

    2. Will Obama go “nuclear” on health care?
    Tuesday morning, before Specter made his stunning announcement and became the 59th Senate Democrat, a senior White House official said Democrats were likely to ram health care through the Senate with only a simple majority – no matter how much Republicans didn’t like it.
    By Tuesday evening, another White House official stated the obvious: “Obviously, the equation’s a little different should Franken be seated.”
    That is to say, if and when Al Franken is certified as the winner of the Minnesota Senate race sometime in June or July, the Democrats have their 60th Senate vote. That would allow them to break a GOP filibuster on a major healthcare bill – meaning Obama wouldn’t have to resort to the legislative tactic that Republicans claim is the “nuclear” option.
    But Obama’s keeping it as an “insurance policy,” one administration official said.

    3. “Torture memos” aside, what will Obama do about Gitmo and CIA interrogations?
    Obama set off a firestorm recently by releasing legal memos detailing interrogation methods some viewed as torture. But that controversy could pale in comparison to the one he will confront in the coming weeks, as his administration wrestles with the question of what to do with the roughly 240 war-on-terror prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, which Obama pledged to close a year after taking office.
    He gave an interagency panel until July 21 to come up with a new framework for detaining prisoners. In practical terms, that means confronting the explosive issue of where war-on-terror detainees will be housed on U.S. soil, a prospect that has already led to protests from various lawmakers.

    Obama set the same July 21 deadline for another controversial question – can the CIA go a bit farther than military interrogators in questioning terror suspects? Obama has pledged to bar the return of the most aggressive techniques in the “torture memos,” such as water-boarding.
    But in both cases, human rights groups are watching closely for any sign of backsliding by Obama, who must balance the need to detain and question anti-U.S. terrorists with his campaign promises to do it differently than the Bush administration.

    4. What to say to Israel about Middle East peace?
    Obama has invited Middle Eastern leaders to the White House in the coming weeks. And all eyes will be on his talks with Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu, to see if Obama takes a harder line toward Israel than the Bush administration did.
    Obama is likely to stress that, like Netanyahu, he realizes that dealing with the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran is vital to bringing stability to the Middle East – one reason Obama is pursuing engagement with Tehran and preparing further sanctions in case diplomatic outreach doesn’t work.
    But Obama will also likely tell Netanyahu: “You’ve got to take some steps yourself, Mr. Prime Minister.”
    Specifically, he will likely urge Netanyahu to say something in public to indicate some support for the eventual creation of a separate Palestinian state, a step Netanyahu has been unwilling to take since he took office March 31. Netanyahu may well come to Washington prepared to outline a new approach that will do just that.

    5. What to say at Notre Dame?
    Obama’s May 17 commencement address at Notre Dame in has riled many in the anti-abortion community, who are protesting the Catholic university’s invitation to a president who supports abortion rights.
    Thanks to a troubled economy and his own deft positioning, Obama has largely avoided the culture wars. No avoiding them at South Bend.
    The commencement speech has not yet been written, but Obama aides suggest he’s likely to address the issue head-on in the manner he typically does when faced with a controversial topic. Expect him to stress the need to reduce the number of abortions.
    Whether Obama is able to defuse his support for abortion rights, or only angers some in the Catholic community further, could have consequences for his future political prospects with a key constituency.

    6. Will Obama let Chrysler and GM go bankrupt?
    Obama has adopted a get-tough approach to the ailing automakers – giving Chrysler until this week and General Motors until next month to pull themselves out of their financial woes, or he’ll cut off government assistance and let them fall into bankruptcy.
    He could know the fate of Chrysler at any moment – either they cut a deal with Italian automaker Fiat, or Obama shuts off the bailout funds.
    For GM, Obama would have to cough up an additional $11.6 billion in loans in exchange for at least half of the ownership of the company.
    If he lets GM topple into bankruptcy, he could take some blame turning his back on a 101-year-old company once considered a jewel of American capitalism. If he embraces a rescue package, he could be seen as a little too eager for government to take over major chunks of the free market.

    7. What to do about Pakistan?
    Pakistan could easily become the first major foreign policy crisis of Obama’s presidency, if Taliban militants gain strength in coming months and further threaten the stability of Pakistan’s government.
    For now, Obama will attempt to head off a crisis by urging Pakistan to carry out serious counter-insurgency operations and by beginning new civilian aid programs in Pakistan’s western border areas aimed at reversing Taliban gains.
    But more American boots on the ground? Not likely, beyond the couple of dozen Special Forces soldiers Pakistan agreed to let in to help train Pakistani forces. The U.S. could keep up attacks on militants using unmanned drones.
    But if the situation in Pakistan deteriorates further, a military coup would become more likely, as the Army has repeatedly seized power in moments of crisis in the country’s history. At that point, Obama might issue a small protest, but privately view a military takeover as an unfortunate but unavoidable step for stabilizing the country.

    8. Will Obama show labor some love?
    It’s the labor movement’s No. 1 priority – legislation to make organizing unions easier, known as the Employee Free Choice Act. But Obama hasn’t much appetite to push the bill often called card-check.
    Here’s another place where Specter’s switch could change the political odds. Specter had effectively killed the bill by coming out in opposition last month – when he was still trying to curry favor with GOP voters in Pennsylvania.
    But Obama may have more leverage now to encourage Specter to support the bill. Still, it’s not clear Obama is willing to spend any political capital on it, especially when he’s got his hands full with tough battles on health care and energy.

    9. Can Obama get a win on energy – without driving away moderate Democrats?
    The White House is circling its calendar for Memorial Day to get a wide-ranging energy plan through a key House committee. Obama sees the so-called “cap and trade” plan as a win-win – cutting global warming by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and shifting the U.S. toward cleaner energy.
    But already Obama and Democratic leaders may face the need to compromise – with fellow House Democrats, particularly in Rust Belt and coal country states where they know a thing or two about smokestacks.
    They fear Obama’s plan to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 14 percent below 2005 levels by 2020 would drive away jobs and drive up energy costs. So Obama will have to decide how far to go to get a bill through – possibly by backing off part of his plan to sell pollution permits to raise $646 billion over 10 years, and instead giving some of the permits away to companies facing job cuts.

    10. Where to go on vacation?
    Seems innocent enough, right? But since President Clinton famously polled where Americans thought he should vacation in 1995 and settled on Wyoming’s Jackson Hole over Martha’s Vineyard, presidential holidays have been closely scrutinized.
    Don’t expect to see Obama sporting a cowboy hat atop a horse a la his Democratic predecessor.
    Obama aides assure that he’s not testing vacation preferences and that he’ll go where he wants to go. “He always does,” said one aide.
    The Boston Globe reported earlier this month that the president may wind up on the Vineyard, and had rented a house for the end of August in the popular African-American vacation enclave, Oak Bluffs.
    Obama has been there before, including to stay with Harvard Law Professor Charles Ogletree after the 2004 Democratic convention in Boston. But an aide said that as of late last week, no holiday plans had been booked yet.
    10 decisions for Obama's next 100 days
    Obama better stock up on some cigarettes, he's going to be busy again.

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    Elite Member sparkly's Avatar
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    I've heard Martha's Vineyard is fabulous. Have fun!
    Everyone is entitled to be stupid, but some abuse the privilege.

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    Elite Member cmmdee's Avatar
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    Dubya was probably on his third vacation by the time his first 100 days rolled around.

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    Don't most people have to work a year before being entitled to vacation time?

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    Elite Member cmmdee's Avatar
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    ^ Most. Not Dubya

    Sigh. To live such a life with endless vacations. Must be nice.

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    Elite Member Sweetie's Avatar
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    ^ Or Obama, it seems.

    I am getting ready to have a 2 week straight vacation, and I can't wait. It's been 17 years since I've had that much time off at one time.

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    Elite Member cmmdee's Avatar
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    ^ I guess we'll have to see. I read somewhere the Bush took more vacations in less than his first year of presidency than another president did the entire presidency. That'd be hard to top.



    And hell yes you need a vacation, woman! It keeps the mind sane.

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    Elite Member kingcap72's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sweetie View Post
    Don't most people have to work a year before being entitled to vacation time?
    No. At my soon-to-be-former job you get three weeks paid vacation after 90 days. And you don't have to tackle anywhere near the same workload as a president.

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    Elite Member sparkly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kingcap72 View Post
    No. At my soon-to-be-former job you get three weeks paid vacation after 90 days. And you don't have to tackle anywhere near the same workload as a president.
    That sounds like a dream job!!!
    Everyone is entitled to be stupid, but some abuse the privilege.

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    Elite Member kingcap72's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sparkly View Post
    That sounds like a dream job!!!
    Sounds like a dream, until you realize that the company is an evil bloodsucking empire that you can't wait to rid yourself of.

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    Elite Member Brookie's Avatar
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    Wow - three weeks after three months. I'm envious. When I was still at Ford, it took 15 years to accumulate three weeks. In my current job, I won't have a paid vacation until after a year.

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    Elite Member kingcap72's Avatar
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    Well, the way the company works, you get three weeks after 90 days and then when you've been with the company for 5 years you get a fourth week of vacation.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kingcap72 View Post
    Sounds like a dream, until you realize that the company is an evil bloodsucking empire that you can't wait to rid yourself of.

    sounds like the company i currently work for...

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