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With the first calendar year of the Obama presidency at a close, the White House should reflect on its successes and failures over the past year – and gear up for 2010. There’s nothing like a new year to set things right; an opportunity to double your efforts in some areas, or to refocus and completely change course in others areas.

President Obama should be pleased with his accomplishments to date. He has brought competence, intelligence and sensitivity back to the Oval Office. Further, he is able to juggle various balls at the same time, which is important, given the huge mess his predecessor left for him. And the United States is once again a respected member of the world community. But the next 12 months are crucial. This historic and potentially great presidency will become a one-termer unless some drastic changes are made for the coming year. So, President Obama should make the following New Year’s resolutions:

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1) Create a jobs program in America, not Afghanistan

With massive unemployment and an epidemic of home foreclosures, the economy is foremost in the public’s mind. People need jobs. They witnessed how the government coddled Wall Street, and rewarded wealthy bankers for wrecking the economy. Now they wonder if and when they will receive their own personal bailout.

Job creation must be a top priority on the White House agenda. As the economy will not repair itself, the government must step in with a massive jobs program, New Deal-style. But with the nation hemorrhaging precious billions of dollars to fight unnecessary wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the U.S. is less able to tackle its domestic crises.

2) Throw Rahm Emanuel under the bus

Rahm Emanuel, White House Chief of Staff, has not served the President well. And he is the target of progressive groups because of it. They hold him responsible for the administration’s abandonment of a government-run, public health insurance option, and the industry giveaway masquerading as health care reform that has emerged from Congress.

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Emanuel reportedly told Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to cut a deal on health care with renegade Senator Joe Lieberman, who is a troublemaking thorn in the side of reform-minded Democrats. In addition, Emanuel was instrumental in cutting a deal with the pharmaceutical industry, in which the drug companies agreed to cut prescription drug costs to seniors by $80 billion. In return, the White House agreed to oppose the importation of cheaper drugs into the country, and a reform measure allowing the government to negotiate drug prices for Medicare recipients.

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