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11
Nov 04, 2008

The country voted for change. The next step is to figure out what that means. Here are answers from some leading experts.

By Alan Stoga

After such a historic election, FLYP presents a short documentary video, highlighting what all of our experts say the priorities should be for the Obama administration.

Another Year Older and Deeper in Debt

The president-elect urgently needs to stimulate the economy.

“It’s a difficult starting point for the new administration, because both the short-term and long-term pictures are very grim,” says Maya MacGuineas, a Washington-based budget expert. “I feel so bad for everyone who’s about to walk into the White House.”
In an overleveraged world, the federal government is a champion: total federal debt stands at $10.5 trillion, which is roughly double what it was in 2000. Interest on the debt—$450 billion per year—is one of the largest categories of spending.
Deficits and debt (measured relative to the size of the economy) have grown during two periods over the past half-century: the three terms of Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush, and the two terms of George W. Bush. Unlike the Reagan deficits, excess spending since 2000 didn’t reflect a theory like supply-side economics and a view that deficits did not matter. Instead, politicians simply spent more and taxed less.
Ironically, the day of fiscal reckoning has been delayed by an economic crisis that was partly caused by runaway spending and borrowing. As the country bails itself out of the crisis, the mountain of debt will get significantly bigger—probably several trillion bigger according to budget experts.
The advice of experts like MacGuineas, Gary Burtless of the Brookings Institution or Joshua Gordon of The Concord Coalition is simple. First, do what it takes to stave off a wicked recession and global financial collapse. Then, tackle the deficit with a long period of fiscal austerity including higher taxes, lower spending and reduced eligibility for programs like Social Security.
As Gordon concludes, “I think we need to learn from this financial crisis that worse things happen the longer you wait to take responsibility.”

Watch FLYP Media’s video interviews with experts on the economy, Maya MacGuineas and Joshua B. Gordon.

On FLYP’s interactive page, check out graphics that show the changes in the national debt, budget deficit, social security and Medicare. Also, check out our running national debt clock.


Watch FLYP’s video interviews with Gary Burtless and Simon Johnson, two experts with a vision of the future of the American economy.

Back to the Future
Urgent European demands for international monetary reform are premature. But the Obama administration will have a chance to leave its mark on how the global financial system works.

The post-war monetary system was negotiated among the wartime Allies at a resort hotel in Bretton Woods, N.H. during the summer of 1944. That negotiation, based on a British-American plan, gave birth to the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, as well as to a financial system that went on to underpin the longest period of growth and development the world has ever seen.
The system has changed over the decades. Most importantly, President Richard Nixon broke the link between gold and the dollar, creating a world of floating exchange rates. But one constant has been that the American economy and the dollar remain at the heart of the Bretton Woods system.
The financial shocks of the past year have persuaded at least the Europeans that it’s time for a change. They are worried that financial markets have been regulated too lightly, that the dollar might no longer be the best anchor for a global financial system, and that large imbalances—say, between Chinese surpluses and U.S. deficits—create global economic instability.
They are also worried that a recession seen in Europe as “Made in the USA” is broadening and deepening.
American experts are less persuaded that the time is right for a global reform effort, or that the U.S. caused the global problem by itself. But they agree that the focus should be on trying to do something about declining growth before it intensifies.
Like others, Sherle R. Schwenninger of The New America Foundation argues that President-elect Obama should “seize the agenda and turn this from an effort to create a premature global financial regulatory order, and turn it into a world economic rescue.”
Simon Johnson, former research director at the International Monetary Fund, thinks the Europeans should focus on solving their own problems, and then look toward the bigger global changes. He insists that one key to stability is “to fix the underlying macro and political issues” in Europe, the U.K. and Japan. He wants to see more coordinated stimulus efforts from those countries, as well as from China.
One clear focal point of global concern is lax financial regulations—in the United States and elsewhere—that allowed excess leverage to build up to dangerous levels. However, with the crisis still unfolding, most countries (including the United States) have yet to decide how to change existing regulations.
That would make it premature to try to establish any kind of global regulatory system, insists Brad W. Setser, a monetary specialist at the Council on Foreign Relations. However, Setser does hope for “closer coordination,” which falls far short of what Nicolas Sarkozy and others are demanding.
Ready or not, the leaders of the world’s 20 largest economies are descending on Washington on November 14 and 15 to launch the negotiations that Sarkozy and Gordon Brown have described as aimed at creating a new “Bretton Woods.”
It’s more likely that what they are really hoping to do is to meet Obama.

Talking about the global financial crisis, experts Simon Johnson, Sherle R. Schwenninger and Brad W. Setser give advice to the next president. Watch FLYP’s video interviews here.

Managing A Messy World

Eight years of cowboy diplomacy have badly shredded America’s global image, and weakened American security. We need to start over.

Joe Biden was right: every new president is tested, sooner or later. At a time when we are fighting two wars, worrying about Iran’s nuclear ambitions, coping with Russia’s re-assertion of its power and reframing our relationship with a more powerful China, there is no shortage of potential challenges. However, leading foreign policy experts think Barack Obama will have to start by convincing the world that we are again ready to play by the rules.

America’s foreign policy needs to change. Experts Brent Scowcroft and Anne-Marie Slaughter provide some insights into how that change can be made in FLYP Media’s video interviews.

The Hottest Hot Spots: Check out FLYP’s interactive feature, which details the ten politically explosive areas on the world map, and what the next president should do about each one.

The Energy Conundrum
Experts warn that competing priorities and falling energy prices could stop progress against climate change and our dependence on foreign oil.

“People say we can do it all with nukes, or we can do it all with renewables. The answer is we need it all.” – Charles K. Ebinger


Watch FLYP’s interview with energy expert Charles K. Ebinger.

“A call for “massive investment” in transmission lines for wind power, pipelines for natural gas, and transport of biofuels.” – Sherle R. Schwenninger

Sherle R. Schwenninger sat down with FLYP Media to record his thoughts on what America’s energy future should look like. Watch the video interview here.


Coping With a Warming Planet

Experts insist that the pace of climate change demands aggressive U.S. leadership—and action.

One of the few points on which the presidential candidates agreed was the urgency of addressing global climate change. So, in a world in which the country is fighting two wars, the global economy seems headed toward free fall, and the Russians are threatening to deploy westward-facing missiles in Europe, how urgent is the climate change agenda?
Bob Correll, one of the country’s leading experts on climate change, says the incoming president has no time to waste: “We are emitting carbon dioxide at rates that exceed the worst case…four times faster today than in the 1990s, and accelerating.” 
A paper recently published in the Open Atmospheric Science Journal by nine leading scientists was even blunter. They wrote that “if the present overshoot of this target CO2 is not brief, there is a possibility of seeding irreversible catastrophic effects.” The authors, led by NASA’s Jim Hansen, wrote that the choice is simple: “If humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilization developed and to which life on earth is adapted,” emissions need to be cut immediately.
The good news is that many experts believe that putting the United States on a path toward rapidly reducing emissions can be done in ways that serve broader political and economic goals. Princeton’s Anne-Marie Slaughter argues that playing a leading role in climate change negotiations is key to re-engaging global multilateral diplomacy. Budget expert Maya MacGuineas believes that an energy tax of some kind will help plug the fiscal gap, while encouraging efficiency.
Terry Tamminen, who was a top aide to California Governor Arnold Scwarzenegger and helped developed that state’s new environmental initiatives, points out that becoming more energy efficient pays for itself over 18 to 36 months. Investing in renewables like wind power reduces fuel costs to zero the day the turbines are turned on.
If the issue is urgent, so is the agenda. Negotiations to replace the so-called Kyoto Agreement on climate change are well underway and should conclude at the end of next year in Copenhagen. The key preparatory meeting will be held next month in Poland. That’s when the world hopes to get the first glimpse at how Barack Obama’s environmental policies will differ from those of George Bush.
Correll’s advice to the next president is straightforward: “You have to assume responsibility for the climate change issue. It affects finance; it affects food supply; it affects foreign policy; it affects water.”

Watch FLYP Media’s video interviews with two of the leading minds on climate change (and America’s required response): Robert W. Correll and Terry Tamminen.

Rx For A National Plague
For an increasingly cash-strapped American public, the health care system itself is an epidemic.

A think-tank president, a former cabinet secretary and a professor of economics argue on behalf of the 116 million Americans who have trouble paying their medical bills and getting access to care. They advocate for a realignment of incentives for insurers and providers, a new technological and administrative infrastructure, more disciplined treatment standards, a health- rather than disease-based approach and the involvement of an informed citizenry. 

Speaking about the future of American health care, Karen Davis, Tommy G. Thompson and Len Nichols all pitch in their advice for the next president in FLYP’s video interviews.

Taking Class Out of the Classroom
The biggest problem with American education today is the same as it has been for decades—segregation. But it isn’t just about skin color anymore.

The Supreme Court pinpointed the source of unequal education with its landmark decision in Brown v. Board of Education. However, 55 years was probably not what it had in mind when it called for school desegregation to be implemented “with all deliberate speed.” An expert on what went wrong with George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act argues that the best way to ensure the uniform excellence of student performance in 2009 is, at long last, to end segregation. This time, though, he suggests focusing on class instead of race—and trying incentives rather than forced busing. 

“We’ve been trying to make separate-but-equal schools for a long time now. It hasn’t worked.” Watch FLYP’s video interview with education expert Richard D. Kahlenberg.

From Florida to Alaska, Quality Counts 2008 assessed our nation’s schools based on a range of factors including standardized test performance, teacher quality and college readiness. With FLYP’s graphic, find out what each state scored.

Just Say No
The Bush administration has aggressively expanded presidential authority in the name of security. The next president needs to re-establish the rule of law.

Three decades ago, then-Congressman Dick Cheney declared that there are times when the president should assume the ancient British king’s right to secretly overrule laws passed by the legislature. Tracing the Bush administration’s response to 9/11 back to that conviction, Frederick A.O. Schwarz, Jr., an accomplished constitutional lawyer, offers key advice to the next president. Renounce that power right at the outset “before you get too tempted.” 


“We’ve been torturing people. The new president should say, ‘I reject that because it has harmed America.’” Rule of law expert Frederick A.O. Schwartz weighs in on how to turn back all of the Constitutional excesses enjoyed by President Bush in FLYP’s video interview.

FLYP provides an interactive infographic detailing how, since 2001, Bush and Cheney have sought to pull more power into the executive branch, and what Congress and the Supreme Court did to try to prevent their doing so.

What Changes Do You Want?
Americans like to see themselves as doers, not thinkers. We tend to be short on patience and attention span, but long on enthusiasm. We are natural optimists and have an almost childlike belief that anything can be done. We are more interested in results than in process. And we want leaders to lead.
Successful presidents reflect those traits. Lincoln faced a devastating civil war, but never wavered in holding the Union together. Roosevelt trampled laws to fight the Great Depression, and then mobilized the country for total war after Pearl Harbor. Reagan’s optimism helped the country recover from its post-Vietnam and energy crisis blues.
The challenges facing Barack Obama are not yet at those levels, but they are growing with every day.
After eight dismal years, the nation is ready to move on; almost everybody thinks the country has been heading in the wrong direction. Both  candidates argued that the country couldn’t afford more “business as usual.”
Obama told voters that he would deliver the change they want. Now he has to deliver.
We’ve put you in touch with some of the country’s leading experts on key issues that demand immediate action. We hope that it leads to a long and interesting conversation—with them and amongst yourselves.


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I believe Obama should focus on a number of fronts. 1st, he most start getting American troops out of Iraq. He said during the campaign that he would remove up to 1 to 2 brigades a month, minimum. I would expedite that and get the U.S. military OUT out of Iraq within 12 months. If Obama does not live up to what he promised he would do, then I’ll count him as one of our failed presidents. 2) Obama obviously has to address the economy. I don’t think proopping up failed automobile companies is a solution to getting this country out of its recession. If anything, Obama, you should invest 25 billion into NEW GREEN industries that have NOTHING to do with carbon emissions. Create those “millions of jobs” which you and every other “Green” candidate championed during the presidential race. Why invest in carbon polluting industires?? The automobile industry is looking for a lifeline to continue its 20th century business ways. That must end and the United States must develop new industries where manufacturing actually takes place in this country rather than being siphoned off to China where EVERYTHING is being manufactured today. Obama should invest billions into high speed rail so the U.S. can compete with Japan and France. Billions should go into restoring our national parks which languish in decline, not to mention all of the standard infrastrure projects such as the rebuilding of roads and bridges. 3rd, Obama MUST begin championing the road that takes us to a single payer health care plan which is the ONLY solution that can guarantee universal health coverage for every American citizen. The private insurance industry MUST be eliminated. While you won’t be able to accomplish this in your first term, you MUST begin to challenge the power and influence of private insurance companies. YOU MUST have the federal government act as the purchaser of drugs on behalf of the American people. 4) Tackling global warming must be championed and your cap and trade approach while not perfect, at least does more than the voluntary approach advocated by outgoing president George W. Bush. 5) YOU MUST END THE DRUG WAR. It consumes and WASTES MILLIONS of dollars annually. Marijuana MUST be listed as a type II drug that has medicinal properties. The facts are in! Studies now show conclusively that smoked marijuana can and DOES reduce various kinds of physical pain. That’s just for starters, Obama. Somehow, I don’t think you will accomplish very much but I hope you do surprise me. Everyone was surprised by your victory in becoming president. Maybe you can become the change we seek in this world.

Byron Gordon
Nov 19, 2008

BAIL OUT CAR INDUSTRY WITH YOU TERS FORDOINGG IT

ronald washington
Nov 18, 2008

People we are getting screwed again fuel as dropped a lot but have grocery’s dropped in price We need smarter governors,mayors,state politicans,that are not out for them self garbage pick up went up because of fuel, has it dropped this in my opinion is just a way to raise prices, just like they did a few years back They raised prices and give you less in what you bought! Who is this government working for?

alfred ross
Nov 17, 2008

Incredibly good and good looking magazine. I don’t know how or why you do it, but it is jaw dropping everytime. One of the most impressive things on the internet thank you, Pierre

P C
Nov 17, 2008

This is not the time to be democrats, republicans or independents! This is the time for ALL to work together an get this country running like it should be !This is ALL are country and should not be thinking who will get credit for what ever in getting us back on track! These BIG money people should not think how there going to screw the public but get the country back and running .If the people are not making money YOUR not going to make money! We have states going bankrupt if the people are not working then the states are not going to get revenue to run!You BIG company”s have been making big profits for years and its time to give some back to OUR country !We can’t allow our jobs to go over seas and illegal immigrants! Its time to think of the Americans and its citizens !

alfred ross
Nov 17, 2008

We need jobs now to build this economy not when Bush gets out of office ! Bush should be a big enough person to want to help our country and get Obama’s programs in effect now! we are in so much trouble as a country, we do not need demacrats or republicans we need politicans to work for the well being of our country.

alfred ross
Nov 17, 2008

Please shift the conversation from Americans as consumers to Americans as citizens. We need to consume less and serve more.

Jodi Tharan
Nov 17, 2008

Bravo, Bravo!!!! Thought and intelligence is coming back!!! It is as though I have been deprived of air and water for 8 years. Maybe we humans do have a future. “What Now” was so insightful, interesting and well presented. I only hope we can keep the momentum going and actually bring about change. History will look back at this time in human evolution with fascination, or some other life form will collect our bones and ruins and ponder our demise.

Mark Fahey
Nov 16, 2008

Welcome and Congratulations President Obama and Vice President Biden. Along with the majority of Americans, I am relieved and proud and grateful that you are on your way to Washington. I am one of the only known survivors of a rare skin-blistering disease with underlying cancer so I know a little bit about over-coming adversity and how it inspires people and what pressure it is to be that inspiration. I also know what it is like to wage a massive financial campaign (as one of my medicines – gamma globulin – is $10,000 a day.) I was telling my father (a life-long seaman currently serving on the USNS Laramie) about how we all campaigned here at home. My wife and son and I in California making calls in Colorado and New Mexico, my cousin in Chicago, an aunt who drove from Maine to Pennsylvania and my cousins in Atlanta. They were little brown boys going door to door to register people to vote with their mother. The youngest one didn’t always get it right and said, “Have you registered for Obama?” That little cousin’s grandfather (my uncle Billy) was the Best Man at John & Cindy McCain’s wedding and I am betting that maybe even he voted for you – being a progressive Republican. We all share in your – our – victory. You have such a road ahead of you and we promise to help in what ever ways we can to make this a better country. We see the big picture and what is at stake. We know that there must be priorities. So when I tell you the following vision, I realize that it is only part of the whole picture. My wife, Dani and I want the following agenda to become a reality in our lifetimes. And if not in ours, then in our son’s. We are urging you to do what ever you can possibly do to help us in this effort. Please remember the words of Abraham Lincoln: “Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves.” And, to paraphrase Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: “The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by those who perpetrate it but the silence over that by the people who don’t.” You may count on me to be part of your agenda for our country and it is with great sincerity and hope that I ask you to be a part of ours. With the greatest admiration and gratitude for your service, V Kingsley and Danielle Hope The Real Gay Agenda: 1. Freedom from discrimination in housing and employment in all 50 states. 2. The right to visit our partners in the hospital and to take family leave. 3. The right of gay youth to grow up free from intimidation, bullying and violence. 4. The right to serve openly and proudly in the United States military. 5. The right to obtain health care benefits, pensions and Social Security through our partners and spouses 6. The right not to lose custody of our children merely because we are gay and the right to adopt. 7. Immigration rights for foreign partners and spouses of gay Americans. 8. Inheritance rights for our partners and spouses. 9. The right to marry. 10. Equality and respect for all individuals and their families. (This list was compiled by two married lesbians in West Hollywood, CA who give permission to reprint in it’s entirety for the purposes of furthering this agenda.)

V Kingsley
Nov 15, 2008

“the country voted for change, the next step is to FIGURE OUT what that means.” Shouldn’t one figured all this sh*t out before voting? Rather dumb thing to do from the look of it. And my advice to Mr Obama is to NOT take advice from the people who after voted for him, now have to figure out what that means.

nobull shit
Nov 15, 2008

My advice to Mr. Obama is to immediately reestablish the rule of law, tempered with mercy and always look to the Lord for guidance and comfort. We have not had a president who has done THAT in a very long time. Many of the recent presidents have manipulated the law and the people of America for their own personal and idieological gain. Lee Atwater began or rather extended and perfected a culture of lies justified by the end result of political success. Sadly Mr. Atwater died too soon before his tactices and lies could be exposed, vilifiied and punished. When I heard Sarah Palin spreading the lies about William Ayers, when I received emails claiming that you were a muslim, a radical, a terrorist, I thought of Karl Rove and Lee Atwater and the disease that they represent. Always speak the truth and do not give in to hate or use what has been done or will be done to you to excuse retribution, but always expose the liars and the lies. That is your obligation to America. And for me, this is WHY you have that obligation. I served on the USS Turner Joy and other ships during the Vietnam war. The USS Maddox and the USS Turner Joy were the two ships allegedly fired upon by the North Vietnamese Navy that Lyndon Johnson USED as the excuse to officially start the war in Vietnam. Lyndon Johnson was a LIAR. Even the Navy and Robert McNamara now admit that the attack never happened. Richard Nixon was elected with the promise to “end the war in Vietnam” but instead he extended, expanded and prolonged it and the war only ended in 1975 AFTER Nixon resigned in disgrace. The Pentagon Papers proved that Nixon lied to America about Vietnam. Ford pardoned Nixon, betraying his trust to the American people to bring justice for that unholy war. Now we have yet another war started with a lie. It is my hope that you will bring justice to the criminals who started it. Bring them appropriate judgment for the blood of thousands of dead GIs and hundreds of thousands of dead civilians and the waste of a trillion dollars in American treasure. STOP America from America from supporting terrorism and dictators. Most of the problems that America has in the world today we have created for ourselves. Read Marine Corps Major General Smedley Butlers book, “War is a Racket”. Butler was the most decorated American serviceman since George Washington and a devout Quaker. He served thirty-four years in the Marines and fought in five wars. Always remember that they are those who have been working to overthrow America from within for a very long time.

John Miller
Nov 15, 2008

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