July 27, 2010
By Israel Ortega
Seventeen months ago, President Obama signed into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (he calls it a stimulus bill), promising a swift economic recovery driven by “putting Americans to work.”
Despite the hefty $787 billion price tag (now north of $800 billion), Obama won approval for the bill with the promise that the economy would soon improve.
Look at the national unemployment rate, hovering around double digits at 9.5 percent -- mirroring New York City’s rate. For Hispanics, the number is bleaker, with an unemployment rate of almost 12.4 percent. And a recent Univision/Associated Press poll concluded that, “48 percent of Hispanics said they worry greatly about becoming unemployed.”
Despite the grim economic picture, Obama and many in Congress say we should remain patient and trust that their policies will eventually lift us out of this severe economic funk. Unfortunately for the White House, patience is wearing thin. The most recent poll has Obama’s approval rating at 47 percent. For Congress, the news is even worse, with only 11 percent approval.
Of course with the mid-term congressional elections fast approaching, members of the party in power are furiously trying to keep their jobs by convincing the electorate that their policies are working, despite the irrefutable economic indicators.
To do this, President Obama and Congress have been resorting to dubious claims that their economic policies -- most notably the massive stimulus bill -- staved off an even bigger economic recession. Even late-night hosts including Jay Leno and Jon Stewart had fun mocking Obama’s faulty logic.
Since they can’t seem to convince voters of how much worse things could be, many in Congress are blaming President Obama’s predecessor for the country’s ills. This is unfortunate and a sure sign of desperation, akin to a soccer player taking a shot from the middle of the field at the 80th minute.
What if, instead of presupposing and blaming others, Congress and this administration considered other ways to grow our economy? Until now, lawmakers have adopted the philosophy of spending our way out of the recession. If this sounds strange, that’s because it is. This line of thinking is similar to someone going on a shopping spree to get out of debt.
In the waning weeks of the legislative calendar, Congress could reduce taxes for small-business owners and reduce the regulatory red tape to make it easier for businesses to hire additional workers. Congress also could consider approving stalled trade agreements to open trade and commerce with other countries. Lastly, Congress could put the brakes on spending and talks of enacting even more egregiously expensive legislation.
It’s not surprising that millions of formerly apolitical Americans have joined the growing tea party movement to express their frustration with the direction of our country. We need bold leadership to steer our country out of this severe economic turbulence. Political posturing should take a back seat in these trying times.
First appeared in El Diario de la Prensa
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