Five Economic Challenges Ahead For Obama
"I hope that, and I frankly fully expect that, all this talk about raising taxes is going to disappear, because raising taxes of any kind in this kind of environment would be catastrophic," Tanous says.
But economists aren't any happier about the looming prospect of a trillion-dollar federal budget deficit.
It's another vexing problem that will have the next president caught between the danger of leaving huge budget shortfalls on the table to deal with in the future against the need not to burden those who create wealth with more onerous tax burdens.
"We have a trillion-dollar deficit. How are we going to pay for it? He's walking into a big mess," says Chapin Hill's Boyle. "How much more can you tax a certain class of people without slowing the economy down even further? It's not an easy situation."
In fact, rather than raising taxes the next president may have to think about doing just the opposite.
"The next administration will have to seriously consider how to stimulate the economy through business tax cuts," Swiss Re's Karl says.
5. Be Patient
Part of not overdoing economic solutions, of not pushing the panic button on taxes, of making sure partisan arrogance doesn't result in gridlock, will be allowing enough time for the current economic situation to unwind.
But patience is a commodity often in short supply in Washington's halls of power, but will be extremely valuable in the days ahead.
"It takes time to rebuild confidence and trust," Karl says. "This is an unprecedented lack of confidence and trust in the financial community. How to bring that back and get the liquidity flowing is non-trivial. Part of it will be time, part of it will be a bottoming out of the housing market."
Lawmakers and the president will require time to sort what's been effective in terms of governmental policy directed at the economic problems.
That process will need to continue as the economy and market fight their way back to health.
"What needs to be done is to fine-tune the rescue/bailout and analyze what's working and what isn't, because we have very little time to address these problems when they happen," Tanous says.
"The first action is to get this from life-threatening to serious, and when we get to that point we can start thinking about reality and recovery."