THE BIG QUESTION -- Jan. 20: First Message to Obama

The Big Question is a feature where influential lawmakers, pundits and interest group leaders give their answers to a question that’s driving discussion in news circles around the country.

Today’s Big Question is:
In 200 words or less, what is the first thing you would tell Barack Obama after he’s sworn in as president?

See responses below from Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), T. Boone Pickens, Lanny Davis, Dr. Herbert London, Dean Baker, Grover Norquist, and Bertha Lewis.

See the last Big Question here.

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) said:
Dear Mr. President: As you took the oath of office you assumed the challenges that face our nation but also, as those who have held the office before you, you became a symbol of our nation, our democracy and the commitment and indomitable will of our people. We are entrusting you with her safety, her prosperity, and her future. Read the full response here.

T. Boone Pickens, Chairman, BP Capital Management and creator of the Pickens Plan, said:
The first thing I would tell President Obama is to make certain the members of his Administration remember they, like he, represent all Americans. In a time of great peril – domestically, and internationally – spending even a moment of their time, or an ounce of their energy on partisan politics is dangerous and wasteful. Read the full response here.

Lanny Davis, former special counsel to President Clinton, said:
Smile.

Dr. Herbert London, president, Hudson Institute said:
The first thing I would tell Barack Obama after he is sworn in as president is test every assumption you believe to be true. For example, if you close Guantanamo as you vowed to do, where will you house the 250 detainees? Read the full response here.

Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, said:
The key point that President Obama should keep in mind is that these are extraordinary times calling for extraordinary measures. This means that he must not be afraid to take bold actions. Read the full response here.

Grover Norquist, president, Americans for Tax Reform said:
Congratulations.

That said: Get a calendar. Note the date of the 2003 tax cut and the beginning of the $7 trillion increase in the stock market. Then note what happened to the stock market when the Democrats won control of the House and Senate guaranteeing that the lower cap gains, personal income and dividend tax rates would disappear by the end of 2010. Read the full response here.


Bertha Lewis, chief organizer, ACORN said:
Mr. President, we must solve the foreclosure crisis with the fierce urgency of now. Not only are millions of families on the precipice of losing their homes and their only source of wealth, but the unyielding epidemic of foreclosures is at the very heart of our broader econnomic crisis, and stopping foreclosures must therefore be part and parcel of any successful economic recovery strategy. Read the full response here.


John Castellani, president, Business Roundtable said:
President Obama, we need decisive action now to restore our economy’s growth and give workers and families the hope of the American dream once more.

It will take cooperation -- from Democrats and Republicans, of course, but also from government, business and NGOs. Every decision must be made with an eye toward creating new jobs and enhancing our competitiveness as a nation. Read the full response

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