Mr. President, it is Time to Hit the Road.

I voted for President Obama in 2008 yet I find myself increasingly frustrated with him. I appreciate that I have absolutely no idea what an average day is like for the President of the United States of America. He has access to information and learns things every day that literally only a relative few on this entire planet know. My assumption is that his daily briefing is very different than what the rest of us read in the newspaper, so I’ve cut him some wide latitude in how he spends his time. However, with his announcement of yet another job’s speech to the U.S. Congress this Thursday, my frustration has become too acute. So, with great humility, I offer the following advice to the President on creating jobs

After the big speech on Thursday night to the U.S. Congress, President Obama should get out of Washington and stay out of Washington. The President can return to Washington on weekends to be with his family.

Rather than spending his time negotiating with the U.S. Congress, President Obama should hit the road and get to work putting Americans back to work. His top priority should be removing barriers and creating momentum for companies to create job.

Some 20 states have unemployment rates at or higher than the U.S. average of 9.1%. President Obama can start to identify and remove those barriers and leverage the opportunities by spending time in each of these 20 states. These visits should be three-to-four day working visits, not photo ops. He can stay on U.S. military bases, not in fancy four-star hotels.

In each state, President Obama should meet with the largest private sector employers and ask them what he can do to help them create jobs in that state. Private sector companies have nearly two trillion in cash. The U.S. government has so many resources at its disposal that the President can activate to help unleash this massive stimulus. He should also meet with the governors and mayors of the largest cities in those states and ask them the same question. The President can use the power of his office to create a focused strategy in each state on creating jobs. By bringing the top leaders from the private and government sectors together, he can help create a shared action agenda.

The President travels with lots of aides and these aides should keep track of what is said and the suggested action steps. I am sure many ideas will be laid out that do not require the agreement of the U.S. House of Representatives or 60 U.S. Senators. When President Obama leaves the state, he should designate one person in charge of waking up every day and making sure the list of items is followed-up. This person should have the ability, when they hit a block the President can solve, to contact him. The President must create the action lists and empower people to get it done. No cabinet secretary or special White House aide can do this for him.

The President must also be prepared to actually follow the advice solicited, so if he hears from a wide variety of business leaders across a number of states about the need to suspend a particular regulation, he should probably do it, no matter what his liberal base has to say. I am certain the President has the common sense to understand what makes sense to suspend and what does not if he gets the needed information.

It is predictable that whatever President Obama proposes to the U.S. Congress this Thursday the U.S. House of Representatives will just say no, and nothing he can do will change that. In fact, the more President Obama tries the more the U.S. House will want to say no. The President should quit wasting his very valuable time trying to convince them. Leave Vice President Joe Biden in Washington to negotiate with the U.S. Congress. President Obama can lay out a clear but simple agenda. Some ideas that the President might consider include:

1. Federal aid to hire every laid off teacher. Enough money should be sent to every state so that every teacher who has been laid off because of state budget cuts can go back to work. Just because we have a recession does not mean that fewer children show up to learn. This would also be a great economic stimulus because teachers would spend the money they earn.

2. The U.S. government will continue to pay unemployment compensation for every American who is looking for a job. No cut off. The only requirement is that you must be looking for a job, no matter how bleak the situation seems.

3. If you are looking for a job, but believe you need a skill you do not have to find work, the U.S. government will pay for you to learn it. This training must occur at a certified institution, such as a technical or community college. The training could be how to become a nurse, or a database programmer or preparation to complete a GED.

4. The U.S. must increase infrastructure spending. Even the U.S. Chamber of Congress agrees that America must spend more on its ports, highways, mass transit and bridges.

President Obama must get out of Washington and stay out of Washington. A year from now President Obama should report back to the American people, not the U.S. Congress, what he learned on his visits and even more importantly what he did. He should have example after example of something he did that led to job creation and even more importantly, he should have thousands of testimonials that say, “I did speak to the President of the United States of America, he listened to what I needed and then he did something about it.”

Quit the speeches Mr. President. Show the American people a U.S. President at work getting them back to work!

John Ahmann Atlanta Public Affairs Professional


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