[This was written in November of 2009. Although directed at President Obama for effect, it's really (mostly) a menu for conservatives and Republicans to follow in their campaigns to defeat him. Several more excellent ideas were provided by readers in the comments. There were plenty more specific suggestions that went unsaid.
The key to it all is that Fiscal Conservatism Gets Votes! And so far, that's been validated in New Jersey, Virginia and Massachusetts. Even Obama has tried to salute both nuclear power and a budget freeze, but not in a believable way.]
He only needs to take a few simple steps. It's easier than cutting out cigarettes.
- Make an immediate decision on General McChrystal's request for at least 40,000 more troops for Afghanistan. For re-election purposes it almost doesn't matter what the decision is, because his dithering is the obvious problem.
- Announce that he will veto any health-related bill that will increase government spending AT ALL. That is, not just "paid for," but it may not have ANY cost.
- Immediately terminate disbursements from the stimulus package. If it hasn't been promised, don't promise it. If it can remain unspent, don't spend it.
- Order his "czars" to wind up their work within six weeks, without spending any money. (No need to drag things out to Christmas.)
- Set up a schedule for the recipients of TARP money to repay their loans.
- Set up a schedule to dispose of all government owned stock in GM, Chrysler, and any other "private" companies (not including retirement plans, of course).
- Instruct Congress to make the Bush tax cuts permanent. Include a reduction in business taxes. Keep capital gains taxes at current rates. Announce that he intends to make it all permanent.
- Scrap the latest budget. Cut spending. Cut the deficit. Cut deficit projections as a result. Create a new budget with a much lower spending total.
- Most important, he must announce that he recognizes the economic danger posed by expansion of government and expansion of deficits and national debt. He must unequivocally state that he will veto any attempt to increase non-Constitutionally required budget items during his term in office and that he will turn down spending programs of any kind, including stimulus plans, even those that are directed at propping up state governments. If he institutes a budget "freeze," so much the better.
If he takes these steps, the economy will turn on a dime, we'll be booming by 2012, and he'll easily achieve re-election.