Memo To The President Dear President-elect Obama: As you and the new Congress prepare to take office, we here at NPR News wanted to outline the issues you face. From a broken military to a troubled economy to a National Park Service in need of a major overhaul — we'll provide the briefing paper, the options and the obstacles.

Memo To The President

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript


Now that the election is over, NPR is beginning a new series called "Memo to the President." It addressed to the president-elect and it examines some of the most pressing and profound problems facing the new president, as well as the country and the world. Joining us to talk about it NPR senior Washington editor Ron Elving. Ron, nice to see you and what's the idea behind this series?

RON ELVING: Good to be with you, Liane, and we thought we would take a look at all the things that the president must deal with immediately and in the mid-term and in the long run, and sort of bring them all together in one extremely difficult and challenging memo. What if you were this man, Barack Obama? You have traveled the country. You have won a majority of the popular vote. You think you got a chance to sit back and bask. Not for a minute, and just in case anyone wondered how many problems were on the table, we thought we go ahead and a catalog them all.

HANSEN: So give us a few examples of some of those problems that will be included.

ELVING: Obviously, we start with the economic crisis, collapsing industries, then we have the wars. We have the ongoing concept of the war on terror. Is that going to be re-thought, we'll take a look at homeland security and how that's been redefined and what it may mean in the future. We'll also look at energy costs, trying to ask what can we do to address both the short term, if we can suit press demand. What can we also do to increase the supply in ways that are environmentally responsible?

Health care, I think as many Americans are concerned about health care as our concerned about any issue. And this is a crushing problem for specific American families. But we're also going to be looking at a wider variety of things that did not get a lot of attention in the campaign, including global warming, of the issue of executive powers. What about the administration of justice, a Justice Department that is suffering from some of the depredations of the last several years, and redefinition of the powers between the different branches of government. We didn't talk about it in the campaign. Space exploration, telecommunications, immigration, dropped right out of the discussion, and many more.

HANSEN: But some of those issues were pretty well covered during the campaign, weren't they?

ELVING: Yes, we talked about them as voting issues - certainly the economy, certainly the war and what to do in Iraq, certainly energy came up as a voting issue, and we talked about it in the kinds of terms that politicians used when they're just trying to please as many people as possible. They're not talking too much about who'll have to pay more or get less. Now it's time to get down to actually governing, and put the issues in the context of what a new president big majorities for his party in both chambers might be able to do.

HANSEN: NPR senior Washington editor Ron Elving. Thanks a lot, Ron.

ELVING: Thank you, Liane.

HANSEN: For a closer look at the issues and challenges facing the president-elect, go to our website,

Copyright © 2008 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.