Dear Mr. Obama,
Congratulations on your historic winning of the 2008 presidential election. Taking a clue from Chuck Norris, I'm writing this open letter to you--as one of your bosses.
The reality is I doubt you'll ever actually see this letter. If you do, please contact the editors at Scragged.com and they'll make sure that we get in touch with each other. I'd really enjoy the conversation. I'd be deeply interested in hearing you defend your policies as you weren't often called on to do during the election, or give me good solid reasons why my ideas outlined below won't work.
Even before the economy tanked you had your work cut out for yourself. You made many promises during the campaign; The American Blogger site has them listed for you, and I'll be referencing a few of them in my letter, too. The economy has just made your job all the more difficult; it'd be interesting to hear updates on which of your promises are being deferred.
But I, Mr. Average Citizen, without an Ivy League education, have some ideas for you. I'll appeal to your ego and vanity. I can almost promise that if you implement these ideas you'll be very popular. You'll probably get re-elected. You'll achieve Ronald Reagan stature.
I'm hoping this alone will be tempting enough for you to consider these ideas. You also just recently said "We cannot let ideology hamper our acceptance of new ideas", so here are some ideas that cross party lines.
Number One: Come clean and admit that the President of the United States has limited powers. They're enumerated in the Constitution.
As president you cannot raise or lower taxes, approve new treaties, declare war, create new programs that spend money, or pass legislation. All of these functions are part of the legislative branch, not the executive. Of course, that doesn't mean you don't have some influence, but these tasks are not yours--they are Congress's.
Come clean and confess you are not king. It might even take some of the pressure off you - nobody can fairly expect you to do what you're not allowed to do anyway.
Number Two: Read the Constitution. I say that in all seriousness. After reviewing your list of promises, I'm pretty sure there are some in there that the Constitution doesn't mention.
I'd give these a second thought. Sure, they may sound good, but does the government actually have the authority to do them? Read the Constitution. Then act accordingly.
Number Three: As the chief executive officer of the country, you have the ability, without Congress, to close, disband, consolidate, whatever you want to call it, thousands of government agencies. Do it.
You may have to review those that were created by an act of Congress as it will take an act of Congress to get rid of them (see #1 & #2 above), but do whatever you have the authority to do. This will enable you to slash government spending.
I know, the Keynesian voice in your head will keep whispering that government spending is the way out this mess, but it isn't. It's simply a loan against the future production of the country.
Do us a favor and cut government spending to the bone. You know when Congress fails to pass a budget and all "non-essential services" are closed down? That would be a good start. Close them down. Permanently.
Number Four: Press Congress (Remember #1 & #2, again) to cut taxes. Strongly encourage them to cut the corporate income tax (if you can't get them to drop it all together). Then, the capital gains tax - preferably in half, bringing us closer to the world average.
Then, for good measure talk them into a new tax structure that encourages savings. Say, eliminate the income tax and all payroll taxes and replace them with a flat tax of 10%. With no exemptions, no regression.
You see, when poor people pay taxes they have a stake in their government. When they receive money from the government, then they only have an interest to see that they continue to receive, and no real interest in how that's accomplished. If you've done #3, then #4 will be easy: set the tax rate to collect no more than is required for essential government services.
Of course, the accountants, tax preparers and Democrats in Congress will all be against this idea. But, as the Laffer Curve shows, there is a tax rate at which there is a maximum return to the treasury. You're aware of this already: you said so during the Democratic debate in Philadelphia.
Do what you already know works: maximize revenues with minimal taxation. We have history to show that a policy of lower taxation will stimulate the economy better than government spending. And it's more fair, too. Besides, you promised an income tax form we could complete in less than 5 minutes.
Number Five: End corporate welfare. Veto any more money given to companies or banks. Hank Paulson didn't do what he said he'd do with the first batch of money (buy up "toxic assets") - he just handed out the money.
It's time to let the market sort itself out. Some businesses will fail, some will find a way to succeed and new ones will emerge from the ashes. The current turmoil stems greatly from the market not knowing what, or who, is going to be bailed out next. Trust the market.
Anyway, isn't it supposed to be Republicans that rob from the poor to give to the rich? That would be a stark change from Bush Administration policy that would be welcomed by everybody except the plutocrats.
There are a great many other ideas that you'll come across during the next four years, some good, and some bad; but just starting with these five simple ones will get our economy turned around. Bring us all change we can believe in, as you promised.