With the worst financial hangover in recent history, Americans start a new year, still trying to figure out what hit them and being urged to swallow hair-of-the-dog pick-me-up remedies to steady their nerves.
In the aftermath of a buying binge in real estate and on Wall Street, the ironic answers to getting straight are more personal spending and much, much more government spending. In his weekly address, the President-Elect today proposes “an American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan that not only creates jobs in the short-term but spurs economic growth and competitiveness in the long-term.”
But this new spending spree, unlike those that caused the meltdown, according to Barack Obama, "must be designed in a new way—-we can’t just fall into the old Washington habit of throwing money at the problem.
"We must make strategic investments that will serve as a down payment on our long-term economic future. We must demand vigorous oversight and strict accountability for achieving results. And we must restore fiscal responsibility and make the tough choices so that as the economy recovers, the deficit starts to come down. That is how we will...create three million new jobs, more than eighty percent of them in the private sector.”
As always, well said, but when Congress starts working next week on up to $1 trillion of stimulus, old Washington habits won't suddenly disappear.
Republican minorities are reduced to playing tough cops on what Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell calls the "largest spending bill in the history of our country at a time when our national debt is already the largest in history" and the House's John Boehner is warning against "pork-barrel spending that does nothing but give taxpayer money to special interests and campaign contributors."
It's good to see the party that racked up the largest deficits in history returning to its fiscally conservative roots. We're moving into new territory here and, for all our sakes, Washington leaders have to stop scoring political points and start figuring out how to do more than just throw money at the economy.
One more brainless spending binge could send the country into an economic AA.