A To Do List for January 21, 2021– Part I

A Wish List for the Day After the Inauguration


History teaches that caution is the prognosticator’s watch word when calling elections. For all the reasons one can think of, Joe Biden should be taking the oath of office next January. But we don’t know that. We will know in about 165 days, but not today. Still, let us surmise for the purposes of our conversation, that Biden does win. Not only does he win, but his party holds the House. Thanks to Donald Trump and friends for showing voters what they were. The Democrats win the Senate as well.

The Phone Rings. It’s Joe Biden – for You

Now, imagine that President-elect Biden, in the fullness of his wisdom, calls you for advice. His part of the conversation goes something like the following.

“We have won a tremendous victory. We have a clear mandate and working majorities in both houses of Congress. But the clock is ticking. I likely can get much accomplished in the always watched First 100 Days. And I expect that if we do our homework, we can pass much of our agenda the first year. After that, we are approaching midterm elections. From that point on, it will get more difficult to get things done.

History indicates we may lose ground in the midterms. This will make our last two years even more challenging. So, I am asking you to help us prioritize. What would be on your Top 10 List to get done in the first 18 months? I expect you to consider how doable a goal may be, how important it is, and how urgent it is.

So, what’s it going to be?”

What Do You Think, Dear Reader?

Oh, and to make it interesting, we get one Fantasy Bonus. Anything that would please you mightily, political or otherwise, doable or not.

If you are like me, your Top 10 list is more like top 100, and even 10 is likely too many to aim towards, but perhaps not. This is exactly the kind of thing new Administrations have to do. Nixon probably thought about this more than most presidents. But that is another story for another time.

I offer to share with you the first five on my list today, the second half in our next installment. Mine are not in a strict rank order. They all count; we would have to sort out a whole other list of variables to figure the order of execution. We would all love to hear some of what is on your list, or what you think about this list. Less email and more sharing in COMMENTS is especially welcome on this round. But as always, your call.

OK, here we go. Five for the Starting Line Up:


    Yeah, I still think the option, as opposed to the mandatory program, is  the way to go. What has changed now is that millions have lost their health insurance along with their jobs. One could make that the case for going to One Payer for All now. It would be wiser, and much easier politically, to stick with Biden’s concept. A heck of a lot more people will sign up now than might have a year ago. That is a good thing. Let’s just let it be their choice to do so.


    Constitutional amendments are always a dangerous thing. By no means would I recommend doing this by a constitutional convention. Take this on by the majority of states approval process. The electoral college was an understandable mechanism in the founding era. Today it is a formula to undercut democracy, as it has too often in the last few years. Time to kill it off, period. Oh, and while we are at it, one more. if the Equal Rights Amendment still hangs, as it likely will be, let’s make this a twofer, please.


    It seems that more than ever, presidents use executive action to get things done. The problem is that with the next administration coming in, all that is undone with the stroke of a pen. The whiplash effect is terrible. Look at birth control funding in foreign aid, for example. Assemble a smart team to look at what Trump overrode of Obama’s executive actions. Then look at what Trump put in place by executive action.

    Now reverse both by legislation. Include prohibitions on executive action on these matters in the future, framed constitutionally. Get the votes or give it up, future presidents. This has some risks, of course, but using executive action so often is no way to govern.


    This includes vote by mail, or variations that work so well in some states already. Guaranteed maximum wait time for voting in person. Nonpartisan processes to eliminate gerrymandering. Much of the Republican party is dedicated to voter suppression as a core mission. You will see a ton of this in the upcoming general election. Want to see a nation really give up on government and society? Convince a large number of people that their vote really does not count. It is a formula for chaos and political, if not physical, carnage. I think half the voters show little sense in their voting. Still, ensuring the right of everyone to vote is about as sacred as it gets.


    This is actually only intended for times of major economic disaster – like right now. But these could have even broader applicability. The standard US model for unemployment insurance is clumsy. It is barely workable on an individual basis. It cannot handle the load in an economic meltdown like we are experiencing. Several countries cut out all that paperwork and bureaucracy. They by send the money to employers with instructions to keep paying their workers. Better outcomes at far less cost and less social unraveling.

    Childcare is something we have made back burner for too long. We will find this is one of the short falls that will drag out economic recovery. For a country that claims to care about its children, we sure have a funny way of showing it. There are terrific examples of how to do this all over the world, particularly in Western Europe. Pick one (or two, or…), make a copy, and get on with it. Build in measures of value (economic, social, etc.) and publish the score card after the first five years. You will like what the results are for us all, whether you have kids or not.

    Enough to Start?

    Five more + a bonus item coming up next. In the meantime, what do you think? Like these? Hate these? Some of both? What comes to mind first or foremost for your list? Let’s talk.

    Bill Clontz

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4 replies to A To Do List for January 21, 2021– Part I

  1. Thanks, Bill, for beginning this conversation. My hope is that Biden presents some of his initial priorities in September; and, instead of a list of individual items I’d put it together in packages.

    First, to excite and shore up the base, my first package would be a Medicare option and a version of the Green New Deal. That will bring young voters to the polls this year and keep them engaged through the mid term.

    Next, I’d move to economic underpinnings: early childhood education, childcare, an increase in the minimum wage, nationalizing UI standards, paid sick/family leave, and alleviating student loan burdens. Third is an election reform package that ensures universal and convenient access to voting, new redistricting standards and the Electoral College issue. Fourth, clean up the Trump administration’s regulatory action and reinstate basic health, safety and environmental protections. Finally (for this first cut), reestablish our international relationships and rebuild trust with our allies.

    • A good framework, Bill. Doing these in packages makes sense for several reasons, if nothing else they might move easier politically as such, and it serves to remind all these are connected to each other. While I am at it, may I say I enjoy your blog too (http://hopeandstone.org). Thoughtful stuff you have there.

  2. Good starting list Bill. I am interested in seeing the remaining five issues. Next step…assign two codes to each: Degree of difficulty and priority. This creates a matrix for planning.

    • Thanks, Jerry. I am a fan of decision matrices as well, although for this one the variables are almost three dimensional and harder to matrix out. Still, worth a shot once the election is done. What both houses of Congress and the state maps look like will change the viability of some of the these items.

      Don’f forget – the next round is not only the next five, but the all important fantasy add on. Bet you are going to like it!

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