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Can We Have Stimulus and Accountability?

Can We Have Stimulus and Accountability?

President Barack Obama and the 111th Congress have achieved their goal of creating stimulus legislation to bring aid to the declining economy. 

While both parties agreed that some action was needed to stimulate the economy, the Democratic embrace of public spending did not receive Republican support. Both sides did agree on tax cuts, which put more money in private hands, where it theoretically could be entrusted without fear of misuse.

Remarkably, the stimulus legislation was assembled, debated and negotiated quickly and follows the Bush administration’s $700 billion financial support program, showing both administrations’ willingness to act quickly and boldly–to avoid mistakes made by Depression-era governments.

The public has largely followed party positions with Democrats accepting President Obama’s claims that spending, with accountability, is necessary and proper, and Republicans rejecting public spending beyond the financial bailout as unjustified, except that a significant vocal minority of the public from across the political landscape believe that the government’s management of public funds is corrupt, self-serving, and unnecessary.

The conflict highlights a problem President Obama gave voice to in the 2008 presidential campaign, before the economic crisis captured center state. Many Americans have lost faith in their government. They perceive government as the game board of the wealthy and powerful, where tax revenues and rights to government spending are divided up by lobbyists and their representatives in office.

The truth is likely more complicated.  But Obama campaigned for more openness and accountability in the federal government, and crucially in the government’s use of public funding. Now is the time to make good on those promises.

Both the Treasury plan to support bank balance sheets and real estate values and the new stimulus legislation will only gain legitimacy if the public believes that they are worth the money. President Obama must put great effort into communicating and demonstrating that each dollar was spent wisely, obtained value, and served a public purpose that could not have been achieved otherwise.

This is no easy task. But with such doubt in the responsibility of government and the economic justice of our system, it is necessary. When the crisis ends and President Obama needs to move to the difficult tasks of cutting government spending, including entitlements, and working again towards a balanced budget, such calls for sacrifice by our leaders will require for their success the trust of the American people.

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11 comments

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5:47PM PST on Feb 17, 2009

Right wing, left wing, blabber, blabber, blabber. We're all up the creek without a paddle & it doesn't matter who is in office; politicians always make the middle class foot the bill. I feel bad for those who blindly follow any political party or a certain politician because unless you give them a large contribution, you mean NOTHING to them. Refuse to be another sheep & learn what you can about what goes on behind the scenes, you may learn that the party you believed in is the opposite of what you thought they stood for. I refuse to give in to popular thoughts & feelings. I do not let others sway my vote. Sadly, many Americans were bought with the media's views & are now flabbergasted that things are not any better than they were last year. Recovery will take much longer than what was predicted & until the government & their cronies are held to the standards that we are held to, nothing will change & we'll be taxed to death to pay for their wants & needs while having to deny our own.

9:21PM PST on Feb 16, 2009

In my opinion, we should have let the greedy banks fail! Spread the money among the working people. I am a professional office worker now, but come from a working class family and the workers are the ones who make this country go. Any penny that goes to bail out a bank, is a penny stolen from the american people! I am glad a democrat is in office now, lets just hope he is a tad bit smarter than his predecessor. Well I think we all know that is true!

10:24AM PST on Feb 16, 2009

Here's a quote I really like. It shows how some things in politics haven't changed. This is attributed to Cicero, one of Rome's greatest minds, in 55 BC. We all know what happened to Rome! Perhaps we should learn from history.

"The budget should be balanced, the treasury should be refilled, public debt should be reduced,

the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled,

and assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed

lest Rome become bankrupt.

People must learn to work, instead of living on public assistance."

12:35PM PST on Feb 13, 2009

The stimulus package should be for the people ONLY. Give each tax payer $200,000. We will pay off our debts, maybe buy a new car and put the rest in the bank. That's just too simple.

12:03PM PST on Feb 13, 2009

ENTITLEMENTS one word period, look at what's happening in congress, for all you people out there our government is the largest union employer, and yes i am a union employee through the private sector, police, fire, nurses, schools, county workers look at them all, yes that's right your tax dollars at work, and when asked to take or hold the line on pay raises they say we can't do that WHY NOT, i urge all americans to vote out anyone of our elected officials out their next term what ever party they belong to, yes that's right we the people not we the government, all of us need to voice our opinion on this matter today let them know how you feel maybe they will get the point. Its our money not theirs. The election may be over but the voice of the people should not be. This is like giving your friend money when in fact you, yourself, needs that money more, so the question is who does it go to? That's whats happening here you are paying for everyone else, are they paying for your rent,your food, gas,or anything else for that matter. Stand up for your rights americans.

9:00AM PST on Feb 13, 2009

All this package is doing is adding more problems and a larger deficit then ever before. It won't help the middle class who work to raise the money to pay the taxes to cover all that congress decides to include in this stimulus package. It's a case of Obama paying back for getting elected. The worse Congress ever is now in charge.

7:57AM PST on Feb 13, 2009

With this package he is getting passed its nothings but big government spending for them not us. Obama is giving them payback money for getting him in office. Hes not helping us, hes helping himself and his friends in Congress. We are the ones you will be homeless and hungry. Im glad I didnt vote for him.
You are part of the ptroblem .If you wind up homless it will be your own doing.Gee thanks.

7:37AM PST on Feb 13, 2009

Since oil companies are the real cause of failing economy by price gouging, let's make oil companies to pay for stimulus and bailouts. Now the gas prices are rising rapidly, it will continue with fail economy. Let tax the oil companies.

7:28AM PST on Feb 13, 2009

The unpatriotic right wing have forced so many tax deductions and cut out so many projects to stimulate the economy (education, public transportation, aid to states, energy savings) that the package is almost meaningless.

Nor has anyone begun talking about putting necessary regulations on financial institutions to prevent this from happening a third time.

7:09AM PST on Feb 13, 2009

With this package he is getting passed its nothings but big government spending for them not us. Obama is giving them payback money for getting him in office. Hes not helping us, hes helping himself and his friends in Congress. We are the ones you will be homeless and hungry. Im glad I didnt vote for him.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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Colleen H. Colleen H. is an Online Campaigner with Care2 and a recent transplant to San Francisco from the East... more
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