As President Obama prepares to face the new, more heavily Republican Congress, he "could use a few words of advice," says economist N. Gregory Mankiw, a former George W. Bush adviser, writing in The New York Times. If the president hopes to make any progress on economic policy, he will truly need to become "bipartisan" by "[getting] inside the heads of the opposition." Instead of focusing on expensive, liberal priorities — more stimulus for the economy, now! — Obama should listen to conservative proposals that can achieve the same ends, such as enacting spending and tax reforms to reduce our debt in the long term, but also boost confidence and the economy in the short term. Here, an excerpt from Mankiw's open letter to Obama:
Last month, when you struck your tax deal with Republican leaders, you said you were negotiating with "hostage takers." In the future, please choose your metaphors more carefully.
Republicans are not terrorists. They are not the enemy. Like you, they love their country, and they want what is best for the American people. They just have a different judgment about what that is.
Let me propose a New Year's resolution for you: Have a beer with a Republican at least once a week. The two of you won't necessarily agree, but you might end up with a bit more respect for each other's differences.