This is not the way Barack Obama wanted to start his presidency.
A year ago no one would have predicted that a new president would be shepherding legislation for a stimulus package that would call for well over $800 billion in federal aid to jump-start a failing economy. The bleak economic picture, however, has convinced Obama that action is needed now to tackle what he terms as the worst economic crisis in more than a generation.
The final version of this monstrous-sized legislation will be worked out in negotiations between the House and the Senate, with no doubt, input from the White House.
No one is offering us a seat in that Capitol room but here are points we would stress if we were given the chance.
• This package should be an economic stimulus and not a wish list. Don't try to tie pet projects that won't quickly benefit the economy into this legislation.
• Focus on shovel-ready projects that will benefit our nation's infrastructure. Improvements to roads, bridges, electric grids and airports make sense as a part of this package. Long-standing financial commitments to government programs don't make sense.
• The legislation should not be used to as a disguised way to bail out states that have been fiscally irresponsible. (We won't mention any names, such as New York or California.)
• Don't forget that the housing crisis and the extreme credit crunch precipitated this financial mess. Fix those elements of the equation and consumer confidence will respond.
We'll all be paying for this legislation in the decades to come. If the stimulus package snaps the economy out of its precarious state the additional federal debt that's incurred will have been worth it but we don't want to pay for peripheral programs whose primary intent is to re-elect politicians.
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