February 11, 2009 - Don't "Do Something"

President Barack Obama held his first national press conference on Monday night. I tuned in towards the end, catching him right in the middle of stating how important it was to set an example of good behavior for our youth, and teach them that actions have consequences. It became apparent that he was talking about baseball. Regrettably, he was not talking about fiscal responsibility.

The lesson we are teaching all our citizens is that if you make bad loans and bad business decisions, or if business just isn’t working out like you think it should, stick your hand out and ask for a government bailout. If you take on a loan that you can’t repay, wait for a government program to save you from the consequences. As someone who makes conservative business decisions and is faithfully repaying a home loan I can afford, when do I get my reward?

The most important part of the stimulus package debate isn’t how to spend the $825 billion, it should be how much debt can we afford to pay back. We already threw money at the problem, with little effect. The irony in the situation is tragic – we are taking on loans we can’t repay in order to stimulate an economy gone sour because we pushed banks to make loans to people who couldn’t repay. The banks took on too much risk and were bailed out, but who will bail out the United States Treasury? The rules of debt repayment are as immutable as the law of gravity.

We need Democrats as well as Republicans who can withstand the easy urge to take dramatic action in the face of a volatile stock market. The situation reminds me of old-timers advice on how to survive a bear encounter in a wild mountain meadow. Running is the worst thing to do. The hardest thing to do is the best thing to do - drop to the ground and lay motionless. Many of these representatives and senators may sincerely think they are doing the right thing in creating short term motion, when restraint would better serve our long term interests. On the cynical side, to do nothing and wait it out doesn’t allow many photo ops or ribbon cuttings.

Ask Congress to exercise the political courage to stand fast. Tell your representative and senators to resist the urge to “do something,” and set an example for our youth of fiscal restraint. Urge President Obama to expect as much accountability from Congress as he expects from major league baseball players.
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