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Qingu's avatar

If you became president in 2008: what would you have done differently, and why do you think it would have worked?

Asked by Qingu (21180points) November 7th, 2011

Assume all else remains equal. The Dems control the house and senate until 2010, then the Repubs take over. You come into office in the middle of a financial crisis and potential economic meltdown, and in the middle of the TARP program unfolding. Assume also that the opposing party will do whatever they can to block your plans.

Also, remember that hindsight is 20/20. In 2008, for example, many economists thought the recession was only half as bad as it turned out to be for the labor market.

What would you have done differently, why do you think it would have worked, and why do you think it would have passed Congress?

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34 Answers

marinelife's avatar

I would have gathered the nation’s top business leaders and asked them how to increase hiring.

wundayatta's avatar

I know what I would have wanted: single payer health care reform implemented in two years. I would have wanted a massive stimulation of the economy, borrowing as much as is needed, or better yet, printing money until we see some sign of inflation.

Of course I think it would have worked; otherwise why would I do it?

As to passing Congress, forget it. It would not have passed Congress, but then nothing will pass a divided Congress, and that, apparently, is the way the American electorate wants it. They want little done. They don’t want much change. Elements of the electorate say they want change, but the changes they want are considered too radical by most of the rest of the people, so the best we can hope for is to keep the radicals from making change.

The only things that can get through a divided Congress are minor, feel-good items. The sides are too radicalized. So I’d set Congress busy on wrangling over which day is national chocolate chip day while I did as much as I could through executive orders and spent my time doing symbolic things.

Qingu's avatar

@marinelife, I’m pretty sure Obama did that several times…

dappled_leaves's avatar

^ The trouble being that the top business leaders are not interested in increasing hiring, they are interested in increasing profit… which means shipping jobs overseas… which is one reason that there are too few jobs for Americans.

Qingu's avatar

@dappled_leaves, eh. Not all industries can ship jobs overseas. I’d also need to see some data about an increase of such offshoring during and after the recession before I get into a huff about it.

I’m also not sure how you stop offshoring effectively.

I think the more fundamental problem is that businesses aren’t interested in hiring because in a depressed economy there is no demand for their products. So there’s no incentive to make more products, which means there’s no reason to spend money hiring more labor.

Blackberry's avatar

Well, I know I wouldn’t have appointed ex-CEOs to my financial team. I try not to harshly judge certain presidential actions, but instead I judge the action that are clearly detrimental, because they’re so patently avoidable.

CaptainHarley's avatar

Fund the hell out of the SBA, take the members of the FED out to the back wall and shoot them, institute a 20% flat tax for everyone with any sort of income no exemptions no deductions, theaten Congress with extinction if they didn’t pass a law forbiding ANY sort of payments or gifts from lobbyists to politicans, institute the death penalty for any politican convicted of corruption or accepting bribes. That’s for openers!

( As you may have noticed, I have a tendecy to kick ass first and ask questions later! LOL! )

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

I have no idea. I’d like to think I would… but I really don’t.

If I were Pres in 2008… I’d stick Ron Paul in my chair and go fishing.

Qingu's avatar

@CaptainHarley, I notice you left out an explanation for why you think those policies would work and how you hope to practically accomplish them.

CaptainHarley's avatar


I’m just posting to an Internet discussion group, not running for office.

Qingu's avatar

So you have no interest in backing up the things you’re posting?

CaptainHarley's avatar

Not at your prompting, no. I may or may not elucidate, but that will be up to me.

mattbrowne's avatar

Not much actually. One exception is allowing Israel to keep creating settlements outside their country stealing this land from the Palestinians. As long as this goes on thousands of additional terrorists are being recruited every week.

Qingu's avatar

@mattbrowne, how would you have stopped it?

I would have threatened to cut off aid, but I’m not sure that would have passed congress.

CaptainHarley's avatar


The land originally belonged to Israel.

Qingu's avatar

@CaptainHarley, according to a fictional Mesopotamian religion, and even so that is no excuse for the perpetuation of an apartheid state. You either give the Palestinians the right to vote or you give them their own state.

mattbrowne's avatar

@Qingu – Is cutting off aid really the only option?

mattbrowne's avatar

@CaptainHarley – No, the land originally belonged to the people who lived there before the Israelites. And this land originally belonged to the people who lived there before the people who lived there before Israelites. And so forth.

How would you feel if the grandson of Sitting Bull started to build a settlement in your backyard?

How would the people in Poland feel if Germans started to build settlements in their country?

Need I go on?

Ancient property claims are absurd and a recipe for misery. Not peace. But the “Tea Party” faction of the Likud Party ruling Israel just doesn’t get it.

Blackberry's avatar

@mattbrowne I never really thought of that. Well, I knew that the earth is still the earth no matter who claims it, but it never registered in that way.

Qingu's avatar

@mattbrowne, it’s the only leverage they have, and Israel has always operated on the assumption that the aid is sacrosanct and we would support them no matter what.

flutherother's avatar

Obama stated publicly that the settlement building should stop. It continued and has even accelerated though it isn’t in anyone’s interests for it to continue, not even Israel’s.

Qingu's avatar

To answer my own question:

I would try to nationalize the big banks. I would go for a larger stimulus, at least start with a much higher figure in negotiations, and I would publicly characterize opponents of stimulus measures and nationalization as traitors to the welfare of the country. I would not fire Timothy Geitner as soon as it came to light that he was a tax cheat and appointed someone like Romner. I would have started with single-payer on the negotiation table, blackmailed Democratic Senators who refused to support the public option by cutting them off from DNC funds, and used the bully pulpit to constantly stigmatize Republicans as being in bed with the insurance industry. I would recess-appoint all open positions, particularly the consumer protection bureau, something Obama has not done. I would challenge leading Republicans do weekly debates and call them cowards and phony blowhards if they refused.

Needless to say, I would not be bipartisan.

I would not have intervened in Libya, though I guess that turned out okay.

I would end or at least severely curtail the drone attack campaign in Pakistan though I would continue to use drones to spy on Pakistan, Yemen, and other al-Qaeda hotbeds.

I would stop enforcing federal laws against marijuana.

Who knows if it would have worked out better though.

ucme's avatar

I’d have painted the white house pink & installed “camp” David as my vice president…oh yeah!

Jaxk's avatar

I would have continued TARP as it was originally intended, Buy up toxic assets instead of buying GM, Freddie and Fannie, AIG, etc. I would have passed provisions to allow health care across states lines. It is afterall, the intention of the interstate commerce clause. Tort reform is another good way to reduce health care costs, as well as health savings accounts to give those that buy their own insurance the same advantage as those that get it through employment.

Reduce and broaden the tax base. Eliminate ALL subsidies. No oil subsidies, farm subsidies, green subsidies, or any other subsidies. Also eliminate the tax to repatriate foriegn profits. Open ANWAR for drilling. Open the oil shale lands for drilling. Sell off at least half of the government owned land and unused properties. I would eliminate grants and loans at colleges that didn’t adhere to strict cost standards and dissolved the Department of Education. I would have done an intensive review of federal regulation for cost benefit evaluation. I would have done an intensive review of all government agencies to eliminate redundancies and evaluate effectiveness.

I would review our import tariffs to compensate for imports that are either financially manipulated or carry a safety or health risk. I would reduce the cost and complexity of an SBA loan. And I would have repealed Sarbanes-Oxley (this probably should have been listed first).

These are just off the top of my head. I’m sure much more will come to mind as time goes by.

phaedryx's avatar

@Jaxk how would you get congressional support?

bkcunningham's avatar

@Qingu, I’ve only gotten through your question. ...“Assume all else remains equal. The Dems control the house and senate until 2010, then the Repubs take over.”... Unless something has happened that I’m not aware of, the Dems still control the Senate 51 to 47 Repubs and 2 Indep.

Jaxk's avatar


Much of it can be done without congressional support. The rest I might use @CaptainHarley‘s shotgun approach.

jerv's avatar

@bkcunningham Yes, but they no longer control the House, nor do they have the Super-majority they used to in the Senate.

First off, I would not cave like Obama has on multiple occasions. Say what you will about G.W. Bush, but there is no denying that he had conviction, and would not allow Congress to jerk him around. I may compromise, but I would not concede like Obama has all too often.

I would seriously reform the tax code. I would keep it progressive (IMO, flat taxes are for those that hate math so much that they can’t even do it) but eliminate a lot of loopholes. Capital Gains tax would also be progressive. Big businesses would pay taxes and relieve the burden on those that actually make most of the jobs. I would enact tax incentives for those that create jobs that pay a livable wage. (No, making 40,000 part-time minimum wage jobs won’t count!) It would be slightly more complex in a few ways, but the overall code would be simplified to where anyone remotely fluent in English with a 7th-grade comprehension of math could read and understand the entire thing in under an hour.

I would make certain “white collar” crimes Capital Offenses. Vlad ČšepeČ™ may have been onto something . With great power comes great responsibility, and great accountability. Betraying trust and hurting many people is something that should be… discouraged. You embezzled millions of dollars? No, you don’t get 18 months in prison >:)

Net Neutrality would remain; free speech is not to be taken away by corporations either. And the Protect IP act would be shot down with such extreme prejudice that the RIAA and MPAA would think twice about ever opening their mouths again. I understand the desire to protect intellectual property, but you can’t gut a major part of the world infrastructure to do so.

I have a few other thoughts, but it is that time of night when words are starting to elude me…

zensky's avatar

This is me, frowning.

Qingu's avatar

@Jaxk, just to be clear, you would not try to achieve universal health care coverage?

mattbrowne's avatar

Just for the record, @zensky – I am worried about the settlements promoted by the ultra conservatives in Israel because this approach puts all people of Israel in danger. The settlement policies will fuel terrorism. We need policies that lead to a situation where Hamas and Al-Qaeda recruiters will have a hard time finding young folks joining their cause pursuing careers as suicide bombers.

So if Obama cannot change anything about financial part, @Qingu he should still apply far more pressure on Benjamin Netanyahu. Publicly stating that the settlement building should stop is not good enough.

Jaxk's avatar


I would make health care more affordable. The natural consequences of that would be more people are covered. But, no mandate, no single payer.

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