President Obama signed the Stimulus Bill into law on February 17, 2009. At the moment of the signing, he stood up and uttered "It’s done".
In reality, he should have stood up and repeated what he said seconds earlier: "We’re done".
He lost the opportunity of a life time. He passed the high water mark of his presidency in less than four weeks. How fitting it was that he signed the bill into law in a museum. The national treasure of the free market economy of our forefathers was neatly put to bed as a relic of times gone by on that day.
If he had used the opportunity in Denver to have the entire press corps present, then stand up, and proclaim that the era of wasteful government spending is over. Had he had just vetoed the bill and proclaimed to America that a new day has arrived. If he had told us to tell our elected leaders in DC that the days of pork, special interests, and wasteful reckless spending are over, we would have rallied to his cause. He would have become our president! His day as a future Lincoln, Washington, Jefferson and Reagan would have been set for life. A new dawn would have emerged.
Instead, he chose the popular path, the path of least resistance. By choosing the easy way out, he squandered an opportunity of a lifetime. He has defined his presidency, solidified his opposition and guaranteed four more years of business as usual.
The Nation needed a leader on February 17th. Instead we were greeted by the head of the Democratic Party who happens to be President. It takes so much more than an election to make a leader. He failed us and our children.
Unfortunately, I am not sure if he even understands what he did on that fateful day. By signing the Stimulus Bill into law, he reaffirmed financial irresponsibility as an American dream. He told the entire world that we, as a people, no longer value hard work, fiscal responsibility and the right of self-determination.
He, by signing this bill, institutionalized a national victim mentality. The evil bankers, the horrible credit card companies, the disgusting real estate agents and the list goes on. He made being a victim in vogue for an entire nation.
The true victims in this debacle are the good decent workers and managers who saved their entire lives and have seen their retirement plans destroyed overnight. They have seen greed rewarded with multi-million payouts to CEO’s who failed. They have seen multi-billion payments to GM and Chrysler to shore up pension plans of the UAW while their own pensions were destroyed. They have seen Senate seats up for sale. They have seen their lives altered by forces outside of their control. Yet, these decent folks did nothing wrong!
In reality, though, we did do something wrong. We did not understand that our responsibilities as citizens did not stop on when we elected a new president. Only when we decide we want our Nation back will be right our ship and regain our position of leadership in the world. Then, and only then, will our markets stabilize and grow. Only by our getting involved today and demanding our government to represent what we as a people stand for will the American dream be assured for the future generations of Americans.
President Obama’s campaign theme of "Yes, we can" and the message of Hope are quickly fading into the sunset. To have to restore a legacy at this early stage of his presidency is a travesty but restore it he must.
In order to move forward we need a multi-partisan approach to our problems. Government solutions and bipartisanship rhetoric implies that government alone can solve these issues. That simply is not the case.
Now is the time for all American citizens, labor leaders and business executives to unite with our elected officials to solve these economic problems and crisis of leadership. Now is the time for our elected leaders to stop wasteful spending, restore fiscal discipline, and demand accountability. If our leaders will not lead, we must lead for them. Let us rally and reaffirm the nation that we thought we were.
The choice is yours. Will you choose the path of least resistance or will you choose to do the right thing? Let your voice be heard.
Frank Ryan, CPA specializes in corporate restructuring and lectures on ethics and corporate governance for National and State CPA Associations. He is on the boards of numerous non-profit and publicly traded companies. He can be reached at [email protected]