Jan 21 2013

A letter to the President

Published by at 2:40 pm under Peterson

peterson MARTIN
PETERSON
 

Dear President Obama:

Congratulations on your re-election and inauguration to your second term as President of the United States. Our ability to have highly competitive elections followed by peaceful continuations or transitions of governmental administrations is perhaps the single most important defining characteristic of our great country.

I hope that you can also break the chain established by your two Democratic predecessors – Carter and Clinton — who will be most warmly remembered for what they did after leaving the White House, rather than what they accomplished while living there.

You had some strong accomplishments during your first term. Obama Care, which has been used as a pejorative term, will likely end up as a complimentary term. Presidents Roosevelt and Johnson would have been elated with the terms Roosevelt Security and Johnson Care for their two landmark programs. Likewise, the 2013 Detroit Auto Show has attracted major positive attention from both the industry and the public. The most talked about car has been the new
generation Chevy Corvette from a company that might not even exist without your support for the GM bail-out. And, of course, we can’t overlook the final destruction of that terrorist slimeball Osama ben Laden.

Second terms provide the opportunity for a president to establish the legacy of his administration. Unfortunately, too often it ends up being a negative legacy, such as Johnson’s Vietnam, Nixon’s Watergate, Carter’s Iranian hostage situation, Reagan’s gun sales to Iran, Clinton’s Lewinski affair and Bush-the-Younger’s middle east malaise. This is your opportunity to break that chain and leave a positive second term legacy.

Let me give you some advice on making your second term more successful. And don’t write it off just because it is coming from a guy in a state that only gave you 32% of the vote. A couple of Idahoans have been among the best advisors in your administration. Jim Messina, a 1988 graduate of Boise High School, managed your incredibly successful 2012 campaign. Mitt Romney and his supporters were convinced, right up until election night, that you were toast.
But Jim Messina orchestrated one of the best run and most successful presidential campaigns in history.

Likewise, the other half of your team, Vice President Joe Biden, selected Coeur d’Alene native Bruce Reed to be his chief of staff. Reed served as President Clinton’s chief domestic policy advisor and, more recently, served as staff director of the Simpson-Bowles commission appointed by President Obama to seek solutions to the federal fiscal mess.

First of all, make some congressional friends. The solutions to most of our problems lie with the ability of you and Congress to forge compromises, but such compromises require that you have friends on both sides of the aisle. Harry Truman used to invite key congressional players to the White House to drink whiskey and play poker. LBJ invited congressional members down to the LBJ Ranch in Texas for barbecue and arm twisting. Maybe you could invite members of congress to the White House kitchen to brew and sample some of your homebrew.

You already have a ton of friends and supporters in the northeast. Turn some of your attention to the west, Not just the coastal states, but also to the interior. For example, while we don’t have hurricanes or many destructive tornadoes, climate change is causing growing problems here as well. A good signal that you have an interest in the west would be to announce you are cheering for the 49ers in the Super Bowl.

You did a good job of getting the Republicans to compromise on the issue of taxation. And it appears they are also going to cut you a temporary bit of slack on raising the debt ceiling. Now you need to look at how you might compromise on discretionary spending and entitlements. Don’t automatically assume that all of your traditional allies are providing you with the best
possible counsel. An example is AARP. I have been an AARP member for about fifteen years. They do a fine job of offering discounts for car rentals and hotel rooms. They also offer some fine insurance programs, which I participate in. But they have also shown that they can provide lousy self-serving counsel on legislative issues. An example is AARP’s support for the Medicare Prescription Drug Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003, which prohibits Medicare from negotiating bulk purchasing prices with drug companies. This is one of the reasons that U.S. made drugs are cheaper in Canada than in the U.S. The greatest generation knew what it was like to sacrifice. Now the baby boomers are going to have to do the same thing if we are going to solve our fiscal problems and see our economy strengthened.

And, finally, make a concerted effort during the next four years to reduce our tendency to meddle in the affairs of foreign countries. You need to help ensure that the United States makes its own foreign policy. Sometimes other countries make potentially disastrous foreign policy and military decisions while knowing that the United States will back them up, even if not in our country’s best interests. We were better served in a variety of ways when we had the military draft. In addition to saving money, it also caused our youth, parents and others to be more constantly concerned about foreign military interventions.

God speed to you as you begin your second term, Mr. President. Whether we voted for you or not, 315-million Americans are depending upon your leadership to guide us into a peaceful and prosperous future.

With best regards,

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