Mar 3, 2009

Political Pep Rally

by Tim Mattingly

Red, white and blue pompoms spring from the tip of President’s Barack Obama’s tongue. Silver streamers burst while the team is down — fourth down to be exact, fourth down and over $10 trillion to go (our national debt). Amidst such chaos, the new president delivered his address to Congress.

The procession began as all games do, with the introduction of key players amidst the cheers of onlookers. Then a thunderous ovation rolled through the chamber as hands collided in applause, welcoming the nation’s new leader. This night, the economic task would require
Obama to be both lead cheerleader and star player.

Cheering on the public is not too much to ask of Obama. After all, he ran a presidential campaign on the concept of hope, yet recently his optimistic political approach has transformed to “doom and gloom” in light of economic times. Now more than ever, Americans needed the return of hope to cheer them on in troubling times.

“We will rebuild, we will recover and the United States of America will emerge stronger than before,” exclaimed Obama in his speech, to which the room exploded an approving applause.

We are down, we are cut but we are sewing these wounds up. Or so we are told.

The injured economy will need time to heal with the help of political team doctors and economic therapist acting in America’s best interest. The Democratic doctors seem to think spending is the perfect suture. Thus they prescribed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

“Now is the time to jumpstart job creation, restart lending and invest in areas like energy, health care, and education that will grow our economy,” Obama said, outlining his economic cure.

However, it would have been in the best interest of our crippled economy to not have rushed into a costly recovery regime without consulting another “doctor.” The goal, plain and simple, is for our injured country not only be able to walk again but also to run. In the pursuit of America “emerging stronger than before,” a second political prognosis was certainly in order.

The general conservative consensus is that the Republican remedies were silenced. Additionally, America is borrowing medicine from a rival team — communist China.

Last year alone, the United States borrowed $400 billion from the Chinese, according to the Financial Times. And as of June 2008, the United States was already $1.2 trillion in debt to China, according to the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Since then, our sidelined economy continues to lean heavily upon the financial crutch of China, but it can only support so much American weight.

While the extensive borrowing from a communist nation is troubling, it shows just how far our government is willing to go, and even humble itself, to pull the battered nation up from our muddied and bloodied economic field of play.

But at this point, the crisis of our economy has become a race, where the United States must learn to walk again before its “crutch” breaks.
“This plan will require significant resources from the federal government — and, yes, probably more than we’ve already set aside,” Obama said.

With that said, the country’s future depends on Obama’s political playbook providing solutions that will return our economy to a state of self-sustained motion. But history shows that it takes more than the government quarterbacking new spending bills and laws to win the economic game. Obama needs to get the “fans” involved, or in this case, the American people.

In 2006, the government released a study of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which measures the nation’s economy by tracking its consumption, investments, government purchases and net exports. Out of all these categories, the GDP charts and graphs showed that the biggest stimulator of the economy was consumer spending.

Also, the Commerce Department reported last month that fourth-quarter consumer spending dropped by 4.3 percent, according to a Reuters article. So, even though Obama was technically addressing Congress in his recent speech, his real audience and by far the more important one, was that of the American people watching at home.

“We are a nation that has seen promise amid peril, and claimed opportunity from ordeal,” Obama said. “Now we must be that nation again.”

In an attempt to inject images of a brighter future, Obama promised to save or create 3.5 million jobs, along with providing tax cuts for 95 percent of the working Americans, while also providing a $2500 tax credit for families struggling to pay for college.

“(The) day of reckoning has arrived, and the time to take charge of our future is here,” Obama said. “Now is the time to act boldly and wisely — to not only revive this economy, but to build a new foundation for lasting prosperity.”

Obama’s oratorical onslaught is overrun with strong words to inspire an economically despondent America and bolster the spirits of its weary consumers — who, as history shows, hold the economy’s true cure within their trembling wallets.

Following the speech, Obama’s approval rating jumped from 63 percent to 80 percent, according to a CBS poll. Through this, the president proved himself to be a powerful political cheerleader who refused to let his spunk be bogged down by the fact that the country’s economic team is coming off of a losing season.

Obama displayed the ability to dress up the image of extreme government spending and programs, transforming them into an investment for the future — a message of hope. Digging ourselves further into debt never sounded so good.

However, it will take more than rousing rhetoric to turn the nation’s economic team around. What Obama needs are real results to create and reinforce consumer faith in the American market. Otherwise, the nation will continue to suffer defeats, and before we know it, the economy will be sacked and the “game” will be over.

America’s clock is running low and its timeouts are spent — victory will require a team effort. We cannot simply rely on the offensive Democratic spending and government ball control. Winning requires bipartisan balance and some Republican defense against spending and increasing debt.

Obama is going back to the basics, returning to the concept that won him the election in the first place. After all, hope is what the American people wanted to hear and Obama delivered. But in the end, it will take more than fancy words and a Hail Mary of spending to secure an economic victory for America.

Contact Tim Mattingly at

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