Leadership Lessons from the Stimulus and Obama


The Stimulus, Obama and Leadership

Eight Hundred Billion Dollars. $800,000,000,000.00. That’s a lot of money. When combined with the $700,000,000,000.00 squandered by or scheduled to be squandered by the Troubled Asset Relief Project (TARP), we’re talking about one and a half trillion dollars. In round numbers, $1.5 trillion looks like this: $1,500,000,000,000.00.

Hard to fathom, really. To give this amount some perspective, imagine this: $1.5 trillion is larger than the gross domestic product (GDP) of Spain. If the stimulus plus the TARP were a country, they’d be the 8th largest according to International Monetary Fund’s 2007 ranking.

So why is it so easy to spend?

While the TARP has clearly not performed as intended – to free up credit markets and salvage well-run financial institutions – at least it was directed with a specific and bipartisan purpose. Virtually everyone agreed it was the right thing to do at the time. (Today, not so much.)

It’s Not a Stimulus Package, it’s Welfare

Let’s stop kidding ourselves, okay? The package the Senate passed this weekend, even though it had more than $100 billion stripped from it, is more welfare than stimulus. It’s more government spending than economic stimulus. It’s more “more of the same” than it is “change you can believe in.”

Obama Needs to Lead

We elected Barack Obama as our 44th President so that he could lead this country through one of the economically toughest times in our history. Tough times call for tough decisions, tough love and tough leadership. Obama has so far failed on all three counts.

Tough Decisions include making the right call based on what is best for America. No one doubts that Obama’s own economic advisors – using their own economic models – show greater job creation and a shorter recession if the stimulus contained more tax cuts and less welfare. So why is Obama afraid to make the tough decisions and do what’s right? Why is the stimulus package just a conglomeration of left-wing leftovers and partisan welfare projects?

Tough Love means making those who made bad decisions live with the consequences of those decisions – even when it means they’re going to suffer. Too many Americans bet on the come that their homes would continue to skyrocket in value. They were wrong and now they’re suffering.

Too bad, we say. Obama should show strong leadership and apply the principles of tough love: you need to get yourself out of any situation you agreed to put yourself into. Sorry, but that’s what’s best for the rest of us.

Tough Leadership means standing up for what’s best for America – that’s his job – and this is going to be the hardest part. Pushing through the “Nancy Pelosi Welfare Reform Act of 2009” is not showing tough leadership and it’s not change – it’s politics as usual.

Step Up, Mr. President

President Obama, that’s not why we elected you. You are not supposed to be the Pro-Socialism Puppet as Rush Limbaugh portrays you. You are supposed to stand for something more. So why are you trying so hard to push through a spending package that will do nothing to save the economy and do everything to grow the government? Are you indebted to those who got you elected? Are you just another Chicago politician?

Leadership means leading. Leading, President Obama, is about shedding the partisanship and the obligations, and doing what you know is right. Leading sometimes means losing your friends; though I can tell you that any “friend” you lose while leading, wasn’t that good of a friend to being with.