Barack Obama's election rhetoric was marked by a call for change, and when the Democrat takes office on January 20th, he promises new policies on issues ranging from healthcare reform to energy to tax cuts. But while these big ideas sound good on the campaign trail, when it comes to governing, he might want to aim smaller.
"The first rule is to hit the ground running," says Corey Cook, assistant professor of politics at the University of San Francisco. But Cook warns that Obama must walk a fine line between promises he made during the campaign and the consensus building he'll need in the center. Lucky for him, the right's bogeywoman may be willing to tread away from the left with Obama. "Let me be very clear," Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said at a press conference on Wednesday, "the new president must take the country down the middle."
Cook thinks that a large energy plan will be in the works for Obama in the upcoming days, as will the beginnings of healthcare reform. But, don't expect to see a huge ground shift when it comes to healthcare. "The Democrats learned their lesson with the Clintons," says Cook, referring to President Bill Clinton's failed 1993 healthcare plan that was prepared in secret within the White House, and dropped on Congress all at once. "Obama will want to roll things out in small increments."
On his Web site, Obama's healthcare plan offers six ways towards new, affordable health care. One of them is the expansion of SCHIP, or the State Children's Health Insurance Plan, which President George W. Bush vetoed in September of 2007 after it had passed the House (265-159) and the Senate (67-29). "SCHIP is a great example of incremental change," says Cook. "It's something that's already in the pipeline and should be easy to get out." If Obama chooses, he should have no problem passing SCHIP through Congress and signing it into law on his desk.