Now Obama Can Look Forward to Fixing the Horrible Economy!

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Maybe running for president seemed like a good idea a couple years ago, when our country was mildly stable and the docket was familiar: Do something with Iraq, keep protecting the homeland, try to lower the cost of health care. But when the financial industry collapsed and took much of the economy along with it, the duties of the next president changed drastically. Barack Obama was swept into power by an electorate desperate for an economic fix and attracted by his plans to help the middle class, but it's unclear how easy those will be to implement. Already, the pundits are abuzz.

• Matt Cooper expects Obama's transition to be "unlike any other since 1932, when that economic crisis dominated the transfer of power." There are many uncertainties, since "we don't really know what direction the Obama economic plan will take given the realities of the market crash." But he's most likely to "move at his briskest pace" on bringing "America's financial architecture" under federal supervision. [Capital/Portfolio]

• Martin Hutchinson thinks that Obama's choices will be restricted by the chaos in the banking system, the housing crisis, and rising deficit, "despite what appears to be a broad mandate from the American people." Major spending programs will be risky and further monetary expansion "almost impossible." [Breaking Views]

• Jonathan Weisman and Laura Meckler expect Obama to "start fast, with a large economic-stimulus package, legislation to fund embryonic stem-cell research and an expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program, a government insurance program which will be financed with a rise in the tobacco tax." But "Democrats are divided over how to proceed" after that. [WSJ]

• Megan McArdle insists the "very best [Obama] can hope for is a fairly successful process of trial and error. To the electorate, that will look like bumbling as Rome burns." [Atlantic]

• Andrew Clark suspects "Obama will face pressure to crack down on excessive risk, to strengthen the Securities and Exchange Commission as a financial watchdog and to take action on multi-million dollar boardroom pay." [Guardian UK]

• Kelly Spors asks whether Obama's plans on taxes, health care, employment, finance, immigration, and unionization, all of which would affect small business, are actually "implementable." [Independent Street/WSJ]

• Mary Beth Franklin says likely targets for "quick action" will include "a new round of stimulus checks for taxpayers to grease the wheels of the economy, a move to suspend income taxes for the growing number of Americans collecting unemployment benefits, and temporary changes in tax rules affecting retirement-plan distributions." [Kiplinger]

• James Politi notes the nervousness over Obama's protectionist trade rhetoric during the primaries, but says that "in Washington trade policy circles, few believe these fears are entirely justified." [FT]

• Brian Wingfield writes that tax policy and reforming the financial system will be top priorities. Changes in the financial system could include "streamlining of banks' regulatory structure, the implementation of capital requirements and increased powers for the Federal Reserve." [Forbes]

• Chris Isidore predicts that "another half-million jobs likely will be lost between now and Inauguration Day," and many economists think "there's little Obama can do to stop more job losses in the short-term, even if he's able to get a new economic stimulus package passed by the lame-duck Congress and signed into law by President Bush." [CNN Money]

• James Pethokoukis says Obama has to "kick-start" the economy "as quickly as possible." He'd definitely be willing to sign in a $200 billion government-aid package despite "a budget deficit of $1 trillion or more next year." Why? "A rotting economy can be poison to any new administration, sapping it of public support." [U.S. News]