Which Promises Will Obama Attempt First?

Sen. Barack Obama outside the West Wing of the White House Jan. 5, 2007.
Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., walks from the West Wing of the White House in Washington, Friday, Jan. 5, 2007 after attending a meeting between President Bush and members of Congress to discuss the president's revised Iraq strategy. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
AP Photo/Charles Dharapak

We know what the president-elect plans to do first thing this January: "confront this economic crisis head-on."

What we don't know is what he plans to do next. Mr. Obama has promised no fewer than four, top-to-bottom, very expensive, reforms: renewable energy, health care, education and middle-class tax cuts.

But the first reality he faces is economic - a collapsing federal budget, CBS News correspondent Wyatt Andrews reports.

"He's simply not going to have the money in the budget to do it without running up massive trade deficits which will require massive foreign borrowing," said Peter Morici, a business professor at the University of Maryland.

So which of the major promises will Mr. Obama attempt first?

Before the election he told "Time" magazine, renewable energy would be No. 1.

Now, however, his new chief of staff won't say what comes first, implying the new administration plans to do it all.

"We must deal with our educational reforms, our energy reform, deal with health care reform, so we can both contain costs and expand coverage," Mr. Obama's chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, said on "Face The Nation."

But if that's an all in, all at once strategy, some experts are advising Mr. Obama to face a political reality. Leon Panetta, chief of staff to President Bill Clinton, says any new President needs to pick one battle - and win.

"You want to make sure that whatever issue that you go after up front you win on. Because if you don't people are not going to believe that you can get the job done," Panetta said.

The other reality for Mr. Obama is that all of his loyalists on Capitol Hill believe their issues should come first. When he decides his priorities, one his greatest challenges won't be managing Republicans; it'll be fending off demands from Democrats.

  • Wyatt Andrews
    Wyatt Andrews

    Wyatt Andrews is a CBS News National Correspondent based in Washington D.C. He is responsible for tracking trends in politics, health care, energy, the environment and foreign affairs.