The Case for Obama’s Stimulus Package

In Uncategorized on February 19, 2009 at 5:51 am

page2obamaBy Press Date, President Obama will likely have already signed his $787 billion stimulus package into law. Once passed, the bill promises to be Obama’s first major step towards the recovery of an American economy that is in shambles. Money will be given to infrastructure projects, aid to homeowners and those facing foreclosure, and even legislation limiting the amount corporate CEO’s can be paid to $500,000 if they received any government bailout money. On top of that, Obama has to find a way to spend the second half of President Bush’s $700 billion bailout that was passed at the end of his term. But even before this money has been used, Obama is already facing some very hard scrutiny.

It is clear that the Republican Party has drawn their line in the sand when it comes to Obama and has refused to vote for his plan. Instead of supporting Obama’s ambitious plan to inject some life into a stagnant economy, they have made the bet that Obama will fail. This, they hope, will allow them to regain some more seats in the House and the Senate for the 2010 election. Of course this would imply that they are counting on two things: Obama to fail, and the American economy to be in ruins. Now I know the GOP is typically the party to point the un-American finger at their political enemies, but isn’t there something inherently counter-productive in wishing the worst on our economy so that they can benefit politically? Maybe things would have gone smoother if Obama had taken a page out of the Republican Party’s playbook and called the bailout the “Patriotic Stimulus Injection Plan,” or the “God Bless the Economy Act.” Not to mention that the only thing Americans would be rewarded with, should the Republicans pick up more seats in the next election, is a Congress that could more efficiently stall plans from Obama designed to help Americans.

Realistically, Obama’s lack of support from across the aisle should not come as too much of a shock. After the Republican Party was routed in both the 2006 and 2008 elections there are not very many moderates left. What is left behind are the hardcore conservatives in relatively safe districts. You know the 20-30% that still supported Bush towards the end? Think of these as the representatives of that small (crazy) group of Americans. As a result, they have little to lose by trying to make Obama look bad since they face a minimal threat of being voted out in the next election cycle.

Where Obama’s support needs to come from is the everyday American. His campaign of “Hope” meant a lot of things, but now that it has come apparent that there will not be a rainbow over the White House each day and that Democrats and Republicans were still not going to play nice, Obama needs to focus on just getting things done. The best he can hope for is winning over a few moderate Republicans in the Senate, although it is worth still reaching out as much as possible. The number one way he can lose his political sway is if he hesitates. So far he has emphasized quick action over anything else, and has alluded to this bailout plan as only “one leg of the stool” for rebuilding the American economy. If there is one thing that this first battle with Republicans should show Obama it is that politics will always be a rough business, and the best that he can hope for is that his side wins. The Republicans know that just going along with Democratic policies will only lead to continued Democratic success, which is why they are taking the opposite path. Of course one could also suggest that this is also incredibly selfish, and a great way to make a terrible situation even worse, but who am I to judge?

The next step for Obama will be holding businesses accountable for their actions. The idea that CEO’s should not be compensated for robbing their companies and the American people of their livelihood is a step in the right direction, although it is much more of a novel idea than it should be in our government. Obama has already announced that a plan to rebuild the American auto industry is already under way.

Personally I’m looking forward to the idea that by the time I am ready to buy my first new car that I will have more than one or two options for cars with over 35 mpg. Not to mention Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is making her debut with a trip to Asia this week. So far Obama has been focusing almost completely on his domestic agenda, but expect to see a new foreign policy platform to emerge once Hillary comes back and gets her bearings.

As for us, the students, where many of us were members of the electorate that fell in love with Obama and what he had to say, it is time to see what he is made of. I’m ready to give him a chance, and probably a much longer chance than others to follow through on his promises. As long as he is active and making an effort to change the way things are I will not complain. It will take time for this stimulus plan and his legislation to come to fix the corruption that festered in Wall Street these last decades, and we all knew Obama had his work cut out for him. If Obama can get our economy on the upswing and Americans back to their jobs, then I think it’s fair to say that he is doing his job, too.


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