Remember my mantra: I am socially liberal but fiscally conservative. Even though these two basic principles can work against each other, one antagonizing the other, in producing an overall coherent and sound policy, I am accepting of President Obama’s stimulus plan and budget because I DO believe that the time has come not only for addressing and correcting our current state of turmoil, but also for using that platform to institute long overdue, basic philosophical changes to this entity we call the United States of America. I am not usually a fan of Charles Krauthammer, but his Op-Ed piece in the Washington Post today made a lot of sense to me regardless of the fact that he is very conservative:
Furthermore, my old favorite, Paul Krugman of the New York Times, made me feel a bit better regarding the inherent dichotomy of my mantra. He too, believes that much needed spending for reform and fiscal responsibility CAN be reconciled with each other:
On the other side of this recession (and I do hope we will exit this financial meltdown), the best I could look forward to would be a return to more moderate laws that are not so punishing to the small businesses and individuals making over $250,000 per year. The new laws however, are absolutely necessary right now to get us back on track. Plus, business enterprises and the top 5% of wage earners have had quite a picnic over the last twenty years. I am aware that the tax laws and business practices were quite favorable for the wealthy; it was a tidal wave of benefits for the rich in the hope that the economic benefits would trickle down to the middle class and poor. That never happened. The gap geometrically widened. In fact, the middle and lower classes suffered even more as a result of these policies and our changing economic climate. Since Reagan, each recovery, if graphed, had a lower high than the one before. The party is over and it is time for the pendulum to swing back. The tide has turned.
I am willing to trust Obama. Heaven knows that many of our past Presidents, who promised to take steps to save social programs such as Medicare and Social Security, who felt sympathy for the uninsured of our nation and who vowed to punish such unethical behavior as Enron, Abramhoff and AIG, never once delivered on their promises. This was the rule for Democrats as well as Republicans. True: our problems are complicated, expensive to fix and demand even more tedious and difficult answers.
Let us give Obama a chance to rectify what ails us. His concern is real, he is not jumping into the fire here for ego-fulfillment, and he damn well knows it is a huge gamble. It is a risk he is perfectly willing to take. His strongest opponents, the GOP, are accusing him of hijacking our future generations by creating such a large deficit. Even his allies, those on the Democratic side of the aisle, are assailing his huge budget. To the GOP I say, come up with something better. To the Democrats I say quit pussyfooting around: you have merely dipped your toe into the water when the times are calling for your whole foot to be immersed. President Obama is taking the plunge here. At least have the balls to back him up. Give him a chance.
Our government is the only entity big enough to supply our economy with the huge infusion of funds that is necessary to get the credit markets, both corporate and personal, moving again. The government of the U.S. has always enjoyed a sound credit rating because anytime an investor purchased a government debt instrument, it was always backed by the “full faith and credit ” of the United States of America, which was literally worth its weight in gold. I hope that this faith and credit continue to be viable in the future. Special thanks should go to China for putting its money where its mouth is by continuing to purchase our bonds. Quite frankly, if I were China, I am not so sure I would have as much confidence in our future as they do. This paradigm says a whole lot about the real standing of our country, and overall, it is still very positive.
But make no bones about it: there are two agendas at work here. First, the government (for a real lack of anyone else who can step in and assume this overwhelming responsibility) is playing the role of catalyst in getting us moving again. Like it or not, only the United States government is big enough to jump-start us and get the ball rolling again. Secondly, Obama IS using this opportunity to make earth-shattering changes to the basic fabric of our economic, social and political policies and programs. A new blueprint is basically being designed. Beside the given that he DID earn that mandate on November 4, 2008, he is also riding his popularity wave coupled with our dire straits to push through an all-encompassing agenda.
Another conservative thinker, David Brooks, writing in the New York Times today, calls for Obama to grab the baton and run with it:
Given the dearth of ideas coming from the GOP and a real belief that his ideas will work, President Obama would have to be a fool not to go for it, the whole kit and caboodle, the whole enchilada.