The time has arrived for President Obama to do something bold and decisive. I know, people have been saying this since he took office, and he’s certainly been busy, no doubt. But I mean something really BIG. Something enormous. Something even bigger than a $3 trillion budget on the heals of a $789 billion bailout package. Something like….
It’s time to let his activities work their way into the economy. It’s time he trusted the people. He provides $789 billion and the stock market immediately plummets. He must feel like the maid: “I just cleaned this place.”
He rose to office on the shouts of “Yes We Can!” (I postulated during the election that when he said “we” what he really meant was “My friends and I,” but we’ll leave that little tidbit of cynicism by the wayside for now.) I’m assuming that the meant, “us” as in “you people and me, as your president.”
I’m not seeing a lot of “us” in his “we” lately though. It’s mostly been just him. Which is my point, exactly.
I’m not a proponent of his actions, but given that he’s taken them and this is whom we’ve got to lead us, let’s make the best of it. And we can do that by insisting that he slow down for a little while. He needs to let that money settle into the broader economy and do its work. He needs to let corporate America respond to new banking laws and regulations. Corporations need to restructure policies and departments to take advantage of new opportunities.
Amity Shlaes, the author of the book THE FORGOTTEN MAN about the Great Depression, suggested that the economic doldrums of the 30s and 40s lasted as long as they did because FDR continued to tinker with the economy, never allowing the citizens and corporations to learn how to take advantage of the new rules of the game. Policies that could have been effective if given enough time were castrated before they ever got a chance to be effective. American business was left to flop around like a fish on the deck trying to adjust to a rapidly changing and inhospitable environment.
For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Time must be given for those reactions to materialize.
The boldest thing President Obama can do today is to do nothing with the economy for 9-12 months; make a speech that the ball is on our court. Tell Americans that he has done what he can and the onus now rests with us. It’s not his job to take care of us—just to lead. He has done what he can. Excessive tinkering will damage the economy further and facilitate the undoing of good that may come from his efforts to date.
I, for one, would welcome his efforts to step aside a little and empower the citizens to participate in their own bailout. We, the people (you remember us?), have kvetched for months that Congress and the President keep throwing money at banks and big corporations with few restrictions or limitations on them. Honestly, we need a taste of our own medicine. It’s time we were asked to participate in our own rescue and I think he’d be surprised at the positive way we respond.