The first step of an Obama administration isn't too hard to map: an expansive economic stimulus package that includes job-creating infrastructure investments, either in a lame duck session before the inauguration or immediately thereafter.

But once you get past that, it's unclear what the next rank priorities will be. Transitioning out of Iraq will be a big part of the foreign policy package, as will addressing the evolving strategic challenges of Afghanistan. At home, things get more complicated. Financial regulation laws need to be passed, and tax cuts for the middle class is a key campaign promise Obama will be pressured to fulfill. The president-elect has suggested energy independence will be a major early initiative, presumably including investment in renewable sources, but any legislation is unlikely to include cap-and-trade, which seems to be emerging as the most difficult item to pass in this Congress. Health care reform is critical and many (like Ted Kennedy) will want to see it brought forward in the first hundred days, or the first year at the latest. And comprehensive immigration reform is also an issue that could be raised in the next year or two.

What do you think Obama's first priorities will -- or should -- be?

-- Tim Fernholz

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