January 14th, 2013
05:07 PM ET

Your advice for President Obama

GPS special 'Memo to the President' will be repeated this Saturday at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. ET/PT

By Jason Miks

Next week sees the inauguration of Barack Obama for a second term as U.S. president, making him only the third Democrat in the past 75 years to be returned for a second term in office. But what issues should he be focusing on?

In GPS special “Memo to the President,” which aired last night, Fareed Zakaria argued that fixing the still weak economy is the most urgent crisis facing the United States. But what do you think? We asked viewers and visitors to the show site for their take on what President Obama needs to do in the next four years, and most cited domestic issues, including the economy, as the key considerations.

“Daryl White” argues that the first thing the administration should do is invest more in “the physical infrastructure of the U.S. – highways, communications, bridges, railroads, etc – making them faster, stronger, better.”

This view chimes with a column by Fareed last November in which he noted that the U.S. has been falling behind on this measure. “Only a decade ago we were ranked fifth in overall infrastructure by the World Economic Forum; today we have dropped to 25th. The American Society of Civil Engineers calculates that we have a $2 trillion backlog of repairs that must be done over the next five years to stay competitive.”

“David Evan Karasek” agrees.

“We can’t hope to compete if we spend all of our time getting to and from work, and paying the taxes, tolls and fees related to the deferred maintenance of a dysfunctional infrastructure,” Karasek writes.

Another reader, “Leftcoastrocky,” concurred. “Our infrastructure has been neglected for a full generation and is making our economy less efficient and more expensive. Rendell’s plan deserves a serious look,” Leftcoastrocky wrote in reference to former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, who appeared on Memo to the President.

More from GPS: 7 tips for a second term

What does the Rendell “plan” entail? According to the former governor: “There was in [the] stimulus something called ‘Build America Bonds.’ The federal government said to the states, if you want to do major development and major construction projects, we will help you defray 35 percent of the interest payments.”

“But it ran out when stimulus ran out and an effort to reauthorize that as a separate program was turned down. Now the beauty of it was very little impact on the federal treasury and an incredible impact on the number of projects we could get going. This isn’t rocket science, it’s not like finding…the cure for Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s or cancer, we know what the answers are, we know what cure to the problem is, and all it takes is political courage.”

Cures for serious illness aside, many readers argue that America’s health care system needs urgent fixing – but there was disagreement over whether this should mean pushing “Obamacare” further or dropping it altogether.

“He should come up with an actual health care reform plan in his second term....not insurance reform, which is what Obamacare actually is,” one reader complained.

More from GPS: 6 ways to fix the U.S. economy

But “AnnieL” believes the administration is on the right track. “He needs to have weekly meetings with the department heads in charge of this and call them daily to crack the whip. If this monumental and heroic effort at universal coverage turns into a bureaucratic nightmare that produces little or no improvement, it will poison the well for years to come.”

“The key will be the exchanges and the affordability of coverage available,” she adds. “The other key will be educating the public and small businesses about the exchanges and the benefits of the standardized plans. So far the administration has failed at public education and let the subversives rule the public perception.”

“Evskie” agrees that affordability is a crucial issue. “To reform healthcare requires accepting that for profit healthcare can never work. Greed has priced healthcare out of reach of the poor and most of the middle class.”

But while many concurred with the show that boosting the economy is essential, some questioned why environmental issues – especially climate change – didn’t feature as a pressing task.

“Interesting – no mention of the environment,” wrote “Dawn Lowe.” “Over the next 30 to 100 years, the effects of global climate change will be devastating. This HAS to be a priority, right up there with the economy and national security. Continuing to ignore the problems facing us will have dire consequences.”

This view was echoed by “lolchoff,” who argued that “global climate change is not only our country's greatest issue, it is the greatest issue humanity faces today.”

“We are on a trajectory such that this planet will not support human life. We must change everything about our lifestyles that involves the direct or indirect consumption of fossil fuels. And, we must make these changes now.”

But lolchoff doesn’t believe that focuses on the environment and job growth need be mutually exclusive.

“Addressing this issue will take ALL of us working together. And, yes, it will drive a ton of jobs. We need to rebuild every home, recreate cities such that we all live near our workplaces, create local food, water, and energy security. All these changes will drive the creation of jobs, lots of them.”

But making progress on any of these issues will require careful navigation of the currently stormy waters of Washington politics. With another clash looming between the administration and House Republicans over the debt ceiling, will Obama be able to make real progress on any of these issues?

“J. von Hettlingen” argues that the president will have no choice but to try to work with his opponents.

“Obama’s priority is to mend ties with the Congress, without ceding his power. It’s most important to have a functioning relationship with the legislature, if a president wants to have things done.”

As J. von Hettlingen also noted, though, this is much easier said than done.

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Topics: Economy • Health • Memo to the President

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soundoff (41 Responses)
  1. Goat Rancher

    The focus is not precise enough to succeed in reaching the goal of economic recovery to previous levels. This missing focus is critical if we are to succeed. Our economy is consumer driven, dependent on wage earners in large part. Until wages are restored so that wage earners share in the increases in productivity in order to buy in an equal portion of GNP to when we had a healthy economy past, a "full" recovery is not possible. Low wage manufacturing jobs brought back to this county at a fraction of previous wages will not enable a full recovery. Giving the wealthy more money has not worked in the past and will not work in the future. Small and large businesses will hire more workers when they can sell more goods and services, not because they have more money. The real problem we must focus on can be stated in one sentence: The customers don't have enough money. To succeed we must have one goal: To return wages, income, and the ability of middle class citizens to afford sustained spending at the same level as in past healthy economies. None of the programs in Congress or proposed by the Present focus on the real problem. The proposed programs would only marginally aid recovery while falling far short of saving the middle class and full recovery. Capitalism and free trade, without governmental regulation, will reduce our middle class to a fraction of what it was in a healthy U.S. Economy. Our middle class will be diminished to the lowest common denominator as exists in most of the rest of the world. By addressing the real problem and focusing on the real goal, it is possible for our government to succeed. We will not succeed unless our government improves dramatically. We must look for other democratic countries doing a better job in sharing economic gains with workers a their middle class. The best example today, is Germany. We the people must demand that our government adopt these goals. Otherwise the wealthy and powerful will continue to reward our elected officials for shifting income to those at the top who finance their ads and campaigns.

    January 14, 2013 at 6:25 pm | Reply
    • Mark Y

      Redistribution is always the answer isn't it?

      January 16, 2013 at 7:54 am | Reply
      • Matt

        Theres a difference between redistribution and incentivization. Wealth does not "trickle down".

        January 16, 2013 at 11:10 am |
  2. Joseph McCarthy

    I have this to advise Barack Obama. Let's just stay the H... out of Mali! Let the French handle this one for a change. I guess that he won't have enough sense to take this simple advice, sadly enough!

    January 14, 2013 at 7:06 pm | Reply
    • Lyndsie Graham

      Well said Joseph but I'm afraid that you're right. The right-wing thugs will most probably get us into this obscene war, too and the ignorant Tea Partiers will love it as usual!

      January 14, 2013 at 11:01 pm | Reply
    • Kenman

      My concern is that he'll have to find places to occupy those soldiers that he's supposedly taking out of Afghanistan; he won't bring them home because there are no jobs for the public now, much less for thousands of soldiers!

      January 15, 2013 at 7:28 pm | Reply
  3. ecopromos

    Can you post a clip of the conclusion to the show, in which Fareed refers to Congressional opposition to an infrastructure bank and merit based projects? Thanks

    January 14, 2013 at 7:25 pm | Reply
  4. JAL

    My only advice is to make some good news.

    January 14, 2013 at 7:52 pm | Reply
  5. 100 % ETHIO

    We are on the right direction. Things seems good.

    I hope, everything will be ok, for vice-President Biden to become President in 2016.

    January 14, 2013 at 8:06 pm | Reply
  6. RAJ

    Obama did lots of good things for USA in his first 4 years term and was voted for second term. I am sure he will get support for immigration but will have tough time for stricter gun laws and on deficiet control. Progress of USA should be above the politics and there we are missing the action on part of many selfish politicians. USA progress is more important than self-interest politics, self-interest ideology, listening to lobbist. When mid term election will come, such politicians will pay the price and then after Obama will have better hope to take this country forward. Wishing him all the best.

    January 14, 2013 at 8:39 pm | Reply
    • Lyndsie Graham

      Thanks RAJ. Such is to be expected from someone like you with your obvious limitations. Anyone with half a brain knows that Barack Obama has never done anything right since he entered the White House. He sold out to special interests and kept this country at war and now the national economy is broke. This country's future does not look good, either!

      January 14, 2013 at 10:57 pm | Reply
    • Kenman

      RAJ... you apprently buy into Obama's holier than thou pleas to be above politics, when everything he does is political.

      At every turn he agrees that the "buck stops with him" but never takes responsibility for anything, and has falsely claimed credit for things like cutting spending when it's a total lie, but he distracts from himself by criticizing Republicans at every turn.

      When are you going to realize that this guy is a politician more than he is human!?

      January 15, 2013 at 7:33 pm | Reply







      January 18, 2013 at 7:49 pm | Reply
  7. Java

    My advice to Mr. Barrack Obama is maintain peace in the Pacific, make sure war does not start between China and J p a n, because today China is not the limply China of 1942.

    January 15, 2013 at 12:10 am | Reply
  8. Carlene Schrag

    I'm troubled by the fact that our president wants to turn every issue into a fight. Almost all the many presidents I've lived under, understood the importance of the motto "United we stand, Divided we fall". But almost every issue is now bullypulpited as "us vs. them" - polarizing our nation worse than it's ever been. This probably comes from the president's education and experience as a community organizer - getting people to fight for their rights, as well as his unusual growing up years when he had to fight to get what he wanted. It worked for Mr. Obama personally, but is devastating to this republic we call America.

    This shows a lack of understanding of our basic system of government, which would respect the importance of
    built-in checks and balances to protect us from wrongheaded governing, and would attempt to enact the will of the people, instead of aggressively using all forms of media to brainwash them. Sadly, there's a dearth of critical thinking out there, and too many people jump on whatever cause is promoted by the voices that sound most authoritative.

    Though Clinton and Newt had their personal problems, many of us long for the days when these men on opposite sides of an issue were willing to spend hours, days, weeks, hammering out agreements that they believed were truly right and best for our country as a whole.

    Please, Mr. President, stop fighting, and start listening beyond your tight circle of advisors, to everyday citizens.

    January 15, 2013 at 5:44 am | Reply
    • H. B.

      Watch Fox News much?

      Who is doing the fighting? Republicans. And they brag about fighting against Obama tooth and nail. They even bragged that they would do whatever it took – anything at ALL – to make Obama a one-term president. And on that point, they went WAY overboard. They revealed their true nature, in all its pimply ugliness. Greed, hate, fanaticism, neocon-ism and guns. That's the GOP today.

      Failing in that, they've scrounged up people who demand to secede from the union, or declare a new 1776-style revolution, and other wingnuts who want to impeach him and try him for treason.

      No, the Republicans aren't part of the problem of division in America. Nah. Couldn't be, right?

      There's division. It's "Obama's fault." There's greed and hate. It's "Obama's fault." Riigght. In your dreams, maybe. Just hope they're dry ones.

      Obama has had to fight merely to stay in one place during his whole first term. In spite of the gargoyles that call themselves Republicans, he still managed to get an astonishing number of good things done. For which they hate him all the more, of course.

      Twain once wrote, "He who is without flaw is ALL flaw." Republicans can't comprehend this, of course. They'd claim I'm trying to say Obama is flawless, which I am NOT doing. He's flawed, as most of us are, but none of it is destructive. So to the Republicans, he IS all flaw. Especially for having more melanin and yet daring to try to lead our country, which "everybody knows" is for whites only.

      I suppose none of that matters to you. Any bad thing that Republicans do, the propagandists will turn inside out and accuse Obama of doing them. I hope they don't think this is being subtle, but it wouldn't surprise me to learn that they do.

      To you, a lie isn't a lie, even when it IS a lie, unless Fox decrees that it IS a lie. They've tangled their own tongues often enough, trying to do both, when it can't be done. But their "believers" are very forgiving of such things.

      None of it comes out in the wash, unless you restrict yourself only to news coming from one side of the fence.

      Not everybody believes Fox News deserves canonization. It is an arm of the GOP, posturing as journalism, and I look forward to the day when the journalism canon of ethics results in them losing their journalist license. Should have happened many years ago. Just as losing status as official religions should have happened long ago to our 100% political new cults, posturing as Christianity.

      It's time to remove the impunity of both.

      January 16, 2013 at 4:59 pm | Reply
  9. Mark

    China, have any of your guest been to China ? Well probably yes but there eyes were not open!
    This is the best minds on China we have? Just look at the body language when our leaders go to China!
    The China leaders body language! In U.S. close together all smiles (This image not shown in China), In China they are opposite ends of a very large stage. The China leaders will not even admit to the own people China and US are friends!
    You better believe China is out to kick the US's ass in more ways than one!
    Yes the Chinese people don't even know this, but what can they do about it. The communist party through censorship and the military has total control of the people. Think this will change with all the money flooding China from the US and the West – NOT A CHANCE!
    Please hide my name and email as I may like to visit China again some day!

    January 15, 2013 at 10:51 am | Reply
  10. Matt

    Government corruption is the biggest issue in America today. Both the Occupy and TEA party arguments mainly boil down to corruption. For example – If the bailed out banks had in fact loaned money to the people instead of investing in the stock market – then the Occupy people wouldn't be as mad. Conversely, if the US government provided more value to the tax payers by improving efficency in thier programs, instead of employing more "mid-level" managers then the TEA party would be less angry at waste. Most of these problems are the result of highly effective 'lobbying". Jack Abramoff wrote a book with suggestions for combating highly effective "lobbying" and no one has put forth the recommendations. Personally, I think it is treason to manipulate the stock market with public policy for personal gain, and should be punishable by death. Do you think that Congress and the President are doing anything other than 'gaming" the stock market right now with all of this "debt ceiling" business? I don't.

    January 15, 2013 at 2:31 pm | Reply
  11. Hahahahahahahaha

    Tell the GOP to s_u_c_K your big black 8=====>

    January 15, 2013 at 3:04 pm | Reply
  12. OrganicManLives_N_anOraganicUNiverSE

    You just keep doing what your doing Pres, its a fine start to raising the sheep up to wakefulness. love you man!

    January 15, 2013 at 3:21 pm | Reply
  13. Jacob Rowley

    Here is my advice, QUIT, since you can't seem to find any cuts to SPENDING! You are continuing to SPEND SPEND SPEND SPEND SPEND SPEND.....and are going to cause our KIDS to OWE MILLIONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You want to TALK ABOUT SAVING 1 LIFE, SUICIDES WILL BE RAMPANT WHEN OUR KIDS CANT AFFORD TO LIVE!


    January 15, 2013 at 3:59 pm | Reply
  14. Mark Seitz

    Mr. President,
    60,928,966 Americans [that is 47.18%] of the voters did not vote for you. Please don't try to govern like you won by a landslide.

    January 15, 2013 at 4:11 pm | Reply
  15. Kenman

    R E S I G N !

    January 15, 2013 at 7:34 pm | Reply
  16. Mark Y

    The problem with Obama is that he has never lead before. Even in his first term he didn't lead, he basically followed Palosi and Reid and did what the media thought he should. This is what happens when the country elects a president based on emotion instead of reasoned, educated, logic. But I guess we're seeing the nightmare of TJ who said that a well educated electorate is necessary for an effective democracy. My advice to Obama is to do what he did last term: Give more people more stuff and listen to his handlers

    January 16, 2013 at 7:57 am | Reply
  17. Peter Floyd

    In order to lead effectively, the Obama must first understand who we are and what has made this country great.

    We are, foremost, capitalists. Our ancestors immigrated to this land for many reasons, but they stayed and prospered because capitalism was allowed to them to flourish. The families who settled this land were not afraid of hard work, but having worked, they are reluctant to have the heavy hand of a highly centralized government dictate who owns our wealth.

    To me, a family making more than $250,000 a year does not represent the rich getting richer. It represents a system that has proven successful for those who can provide for themselves as well as for others. It represents reward for hard work. While he sees the Wall Street Investment Banker in this picture, I see a family owned business providing jobs that exist because capitalism allowed for a family to plan, work and reward themselves and their future generations. Being an academic, Obama has not run a business. He has not had to risk his own money to establish a business and does not recognize the value added by successful people. Capitalism made this country the greatest economic power in the world. His solution to the economic woes of this country seems to be to make everyone equal, but being made equally poor is not a solution. Under Capitalism, the rich can get richer, but under this system the poor can also get richer. His solution seem to be socialism, but socialism is not a reward for hard work. It is simply a symptom of a decaying society.

    January 16, 2013 at 11:34 am | Reply
  18. Jared Ball

    CREAT JOBS! Make this number 1 priority. Before foreign affairs. Before gun control. Before eating breakfast. People want to work. And have none.

    January 17, 2013 at 5:05 am | Reply
  19. Aaron Chaney

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    The authorities on Wednesday stormed into an explosives storehouse in a farm in Khatamlo village in the countryside of al-Salamiyeh city in Hama, seizing 18 explosive devices.

    The weight of the seized IEDs ranged between 20 and 150 kg.

    A source in the province told SANA reporter that the engineering units dismantled the explosive devices which are made of iron cylinders and barrels filled with high explosive materials and equipped with detonators.

    January 17, 2013 at 11:05 am | Reply
  20. Hate Wins

    I find it amazing that any time a group disagrees with liberals they all become NAZI’s. Anytime bi-partisanship is needed in congress it is the so called right that’s blocking any progress. Anytime a news network disagrees with O’Blama they are racist and of course stupid.
    I just love closed minded people on both sides.

    January 17, 2013 at 2:04 pm | Reply
  21. Just For Fun

    Sometimes when congress sets on their hands and doses nothing its best for us all. Passing new laws and regulation is not always the right answer.
    Becouse they are not all knowing and all seeing as the Wizard of OZ is.

    January 17, 2013 at 2:11 pm | Reply
  22. jim

    The President has no intentions of fixing the economy. 16trillion going to 24 trillion by 2016. If you dont get that, then there is no hope for you.

    January 18, 2013 at 10:11 am | Reply
  23. Ron

    Please RESIGN..

    January 18, 2013 at 2:35 pm | Reply
  24. c4cfed

    The Coalition For Change, Inc. (C4C) would like to see President Obama impose consequences (discipline) on senior managers who violate the civil rights of public servants or the U.S. citizens they serve. Presently, when managers are found "GUILTY" they are rarely, if ever, disciplined. See video of some public officials who have been found culpable in employment cases. http://youtu.be/CFQSguDKC_o

    January 30, 2013 at 10:18 pm | Reply
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    January 31, 2013 at 5:10 am | Reply
  26. Lin

    Quit! We need someone who wants to make America better. Not destroy it.

    February 1, 2013 at 5:53 pm | Reply
  27. Chuck King

    I lived next door to a man and his wife. We greeted each other and talked from time to time. The couple would have loud arguments that were disturbing to me and my wife. one night I heard the womann screaming and crying. The argument ended up under thier carport and i saw the man hiting his wife. I had to phisicaly stop the fight even though the man was considerably larger than me I told him that instead of beating his wife he should beat on me for a while. he informed me that it was none of my buisnes. I had to reasure him that I was making it my buisnes. the man backed down and the arguments stopped and we continued to live at pese with our neighbors. I think all americans truely want to live in peace and are upset when we see someone hurting other people and truely want to intervene to stop the beating. although I don't agree that the united states is the 911 for the whole world unless the other nations of the world want to pay us for the services of our military. there is no way we are rich enough or powerfull enough to stop all the pain in the world. That is a job for god. If we are going to bomb syira for their actions we need to pinpoint the peopie responsible for the murders and bomb thier private residences to remove them from their power. we don't need to finance anyone on the oposing side just eliminate the guilty.

    September 6, 2013 at 8:02 pm | Reply
  28. Chuck King

    how does the president think we can be the 911 for the whole world. We don't have the money or the power to be the whole worlds cop. Sure bomb us and we will show you the power but there is no stopping the worlds insanity when the whole middle east is at war with each other. pick any country they are all fighting someone. the only reason america has peace is because we are christian and try to live at pece with our neighbors. Not all countries have the same values obiously when they use humans to be bombs to further their cause. And kill their own people

    mr president,
    Tough decicion you have to make. My name is Chuck King. A lady asked me the other day how I liked being the king. I told her I would much rather be a King Than the president. Because if I were the king every decision would be mine. I wouldn't have to ask anyone for advice. The president has to ask everyone for advice. I told her that the only way I would be president or king jesus would have to ask me to do the job. If he asked me to do the job the job would be him makig the decisions it makes the job a little easier when god is telling you what to do. I think that all americans want to live at peace with one another and can't stand seeing other people hurt or abused. I am not so sure that it is our job to be the worlds 911 we really can't afford it or even have the resorses or people to do the job. I think we all agree that the syin leader should be punished for murdering their people. I'm not sure how bombings could help unless you cn pinpoint where the leaders are and eliminate them individully. I don't think financing the rebels will do us much good unless we can do a background check on each one of them before we give them a 15 million dollar airplane. You know how hard that is to acomplish with our gun controll problem. I am sure that god may have some wisdom for yo if you ask him to help you with this one. We are praying for him to help you. you will know he is the prince of peace. Chuck

    September 6, 2013 at 8:34 pm | Reply
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