Tags: Obama | bailout | Congress

Obama: Be President, Not Legislator in Chief

Monday, 02 Feb 2009 11:40 AM

By John LeBoutillier

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Since President Obama’s inauguration, we have seen members of Congress — both Democrats and Republicans — behave in the most disgustingly political way in the middle of a national crisis, while the White House stands back and acts like a passive player in the game.

For example,

Everyone knows the deteriorating economy is the whole shebang politically; every other pet issue, big and small, has to take a back seat until things get back on track.

There is real angst in our nation; some wonder whether we ever will recover. Instilling confidence is a major part of the solution.

But House members have failed to generate confidence, as the Democrats create a so-called stimulus package that is an unmitigated disaster — loaded with increased welfare benefits for the states, more spending on existing entitlement programs, pet social-spending projects and all sorts of other Christmas tree spending to please various Democratic members.

In sum, this bill is a joke. And a disgrace.

Why isn’t the new president setting the agenda, instead of allowing Nancy Pelosi and now Harry Reid to set it?

After all, the president is supposed to be the commander in chief, not the legislator in chief.

Let’s go back to the last time we had an analogous economic situation: 1981, when the economy was in a clear free-fall with the Misery Index, double-digit inflation, interest rates, and unemployment.

President Reagan set the agenda with his unheard-of idea to cut all tax rates 25 percent across the board over a three-year period. The opposition party controlled the House, yet he persuaded them to follow his plan.

Fast forward to now: Why isn’t there an Obama Plan? Why is he ceding this crucial first action of his president to a hack like Pelosi?

And why is Obama dumping on Rush Limbaugh, thereby elevating Limbaugh to equal status to the presidency? How can resuscitating the dispirited right possibly help the president?

Republicans are shattered after the failed Bush years and the loss of the House, Senate, White House, and so many statehouses. So what does Obama do? He breathes life into Limbaugh and gets him back in the game, and thereby emboldens the GOP.

An old dictum applies here: What makes good economics makes bad politics. And what makes good politics makes bad economics

Obama, with sky-high ratings and the goodwill of most of America, needs to craft a credible and good economic plan to help stimulate economic growth, and then use his political skills to sell that plan to the people and to Congress. He is the national leader and needs to use that position to herd Congress toward what he thinks is best.

He must stop Congress from creating a political plan and slapping an economic name on it, claiming it will act as a stimulus.

The president said during a Super Bowl interview with Matt Lauer: “The important thing is to get it passed.” But this is before the “it” has even been created. The Senate has yet to take up its version, and then the two houses need to reconcile their two versions.

Obama acts as if just passing any old “it” will do the job.

Well, it won’t. The stimulus package will work only if it gets average Americans back to spending, as the key to the U.S. and world economies is for the American consumer to spend money. Period.

And that consumer will not start spending based on the pathetic bill being produced on Capitol Hill.

Republicans in the House did a principled thing by unanimously opposing the Pelosi Bill last week. But they need to put forth their own plan — one that is shockingly simple and would stimulate consumer spending and help people keep their homes.

Here is such a plan: Scrap all this new spending, which is going to cost about $1 trillion. In its place, suspend all federal personal income taxes for the next year — period.

That would cost the same trillion, but it would be such a jolt to average Americans that they suddenly would have a lot of dough they hadn’t counted on. And they’d spend it to pay mortgages or buy things.

For those who don’t pay federal taxes, the government could tap the TARP fund and give everyone some money.

Wouldn’t it be better to give average citizens the money than these jerks on Wall Street?

What we have in Washington today — and have had for a while — are all the players, ignorant of political history and too ambitious for their own good, who aren’t playing their roles properly:

The new president, perhaps too young and inexperienced — having never run anything in his life — to feel confident in his leadership, has allowed his party to seize control of the process.

The Democratic Hill leaders see a chance to re-create their glory days of massive social spending programs. And they also see that they have a president who will allow them to do it, even if that will not solve the economic disaster which has overcome us.

The Republicans spend time attacking or defending a radio talk show host or allowing themselves to get caught up in the tit-for-tat of inside-the-Beltway bickering instead of offering innovative, principled ideas and thus beginning to reassert themselves as the voices of fiscal sanity (hard to do after their irresponsible spending orgy of the Bush years).

In the middle of all of this, we need a grown-up to speak to the truth: We are in major trouble here, and we need a plan that will work — not a political plan to rip off even more money from the American people.

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