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Former Staff Members Have Some Advice for Obama

Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

The surveillance scandal, the IRS mess, Republican obstructionism, and general second-term malaise are all conspiring to make Obama the lamest of ducks. And he has less than 1,300 days left.

View The New Republic's full guide to how he should make the best use of them.

KRISTINA JOHNSON, Former Under Secretary of Energy

U.S. Department of Energy

There is a clean energy that Republicans can vote for, and it’s called hydropower. Of the 80,000 dams in the United States, fewer than 3,000 produce electricity. They’re used for flood control, navigation, and recreation. But we probably have enough untapped hydropower in the United States to power 10 to 25 million homes, green the entire U.S. government on the electrical side, and make hundreds of thousands of jobs in the process. And if I really wanted to do something big, I’d privatize the federal Army Corps dams. That would bring money into the U.S. government—around $40 billion. Plus, a lot of those dams are in Republican states. This is something I think could be very real.

MICHÈLE FLOURNOY, Former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy 

Getty Images

Use sequestration and budget pressures as a burning platform to seek to transform defense. In 2011, what the Department of Defense spent on overhead was more than the GDP of Israel. Civilian contractors now number more than 700,000. At the same time, staffing at civilian and military headquarters has also ballooned. I think this is a moment where the defense leadership could be engaged to push through reforms that are critical for being able to afford the capabilities we need.