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.”
GPS special 'Memo to the President' on CNN tonight at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. ET
Watch the video for former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin's views on how the Obama administration should approach the current partisan rancor in Washington.
Read and watch more from the GPS special 'Memo to the President' which aired on CNN Sunday.
President Obama officially begins his second term on January 20. So what should his priorities be, domestically and abroad?
For his latest GPS special, "Memo to the President," Fareed Zakaria spoke with former senior policymakers from both sides of the aisle to get their take on what Obama should and shouldn’t be doing in the next four years.
What do you think? What should Obama's priorities be? Share your comments below.
James Baker, Treasury Secretary under Ronald Reagan:
My advice is, Mr. President, whatever happens in the second term, you are going to bear the consequences of it.
Our country is in sick shape financially. Economically, we are really in bad shape. If we didn't have the dollar as the de facto reserve currency of the world, we would be Greece.
And we have got to fix our economic problem, and it's not going to be fixed without leadership from you… It's his administration that's in charge. And if we don't get our economy out of this ditch, he's the one that's going to pay the price, he and his administration.
Watch GPS special 'Memo to the President' on CNN this Sunday at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. ET
By Michael Rubin, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Michael Rubin is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and senior lecturer at the Naval Postgraduate School. The views expressed are his own.
In the first months of his presidency, Barack Obama laid out his vision for the Middle East. “If countries like Iran are willing to unclench their fist, they will find an extended hand from us,” he told the Arabic satellite channel Al-Arabiya in his first television interview as president. Six months later, in Cairo, he proposed “a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world, one based on mutual interest and mutual respect…[and] principles of justice and progress; tolerance and the dignity of all human beings.”
Unfortunately, Obama has not backed his lofty vision with coherent strategy. Since the Arab Spring protests caught not only regional autocrats but also Washington by surprise, U.S. policy has been reactive rather than pro-active. Far from shaping events, the White House struggles to keep up with events that increasingly spin out of control.
By Kevin Hassett, Special to CNN
Editor's note: Kevin Hassett is director of economic policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute and a former a senior economist at the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. The views expressed are his own.
As President Obama approaches this legislative season, he has a chance to learn from his successes and failures, and position himself to maximize the chance that sound policies are enacted. To do that, he needs to take 6 steps.
Take things one at a time. The tax deal that was just accomplished was part of the puzzle, but spending is up next. It might be tempting to try to deal spending cuts for tax increases, but that will never work. There are just too many moving parts to take everything on all at once.
By Minxin Pei, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Minxin Pei is the Tom and Margot Pritzker '72 professor of government and director of the Keck Center for International and Strategic Studies at Claremont McKenna College. The views expressed are his own.
Your first administration got off to a shaky start on China, mainly because you assumed that by showing sufficient respect you could gain Beijing’s cooperation. But your overtures, shall we say, yielded disappointing results. The mid-stream adjustment of your China policy has been a great success, in no small part thanks to Beijing’s disastrous policy to assert its territorial claims in a way that alarmed and alienated its neighbors. You have put China decidedly on the defensive in strategic terms.
It may be tempting to press for more geopolitical advantage in your second term. But things are changing in East Asia, and your China policy, a critical anchor of your grand foreign policy strategy, must be fine-tuned as a result.
The Global Public Square is where you can make sense of the world every day with insights and explanations from CNN's Fareed Zakaria, leading journalists at CNN, and other international thinkers. Join GPS editor Jason Miks and get informed about global issues, exposed to unique stories, and engaged with diverse and original perspectives.
Every week we bring you in-depth interviews with world leaders, newsmakers and analysts who break down the world's toughest problems.
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Check out all of Fareed's Washington Post columns here:
Obama as a foreign policy president?
Why Snowden should stand trial in U.S.
Hillary Clinton's truly hard choice
China's trapped transition
Obama should rethink Syria strategy
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