I'm with Bill Galston on this: the key to Obama winning the next two years politically (he's already won them economically by getting a GOP-backed second stimulus) is to use his next key speech to make one clear commitment: he will do everything in his power to end the long-term debt by the end of his first term. He will do it in part by sweeping tax reform and simplification - the sugar that will make the medicine go down. He should eschew any classic SOTU laundry list and go for the central, simple message, repeated again and again and again with as much insistence and regularity as "hope and change" in 2008. The gist:
"We will not pass on this debt to our children. Not on my watch. Not at this time. We must get past partisan bickering and solve this once and for all. I've proved I can work out a compromise with the Republicans. We now need an even grander compromise - to end the debt within a generation, restore long-term confidence, and simplify and reform our insane tax code."
It writes itself.
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