Upon being elected America’s forty-fourth President, Barack Obama addressed the people of America with graciousness and humility. From a historic standpoint, he has become an icon of American civil rights; from a political standpoint, he is a well-qualified individual rich with leadership and ambition, bent on changing business as usual in Washington. There is no doubt that this country has come a very long way from its oppression and segregation to its newfound unity and assimilation, and this month is most certainly a very proud moment to be an American.
Unfortunately, amid this feeling of pride and invincibility, these promises of change will not fulfill themselves should we count on this one man to complete them alone. While his aura exudes optimism and enthusiasm – even perfection to some – he is not the Messiah reborn. He is a human being who will face the same difficulties and obstacles every president before him has faced, especially when it comes to Congress. While he may be on the same side of the line as their majority, do not discount the fact that a vast portion of the fault for this financial crisis lies in the hands of our elected officials in the legislative branch. Until their rampant inefficiency is controlled and reversed, even the best cooperation between the legislative and executive branches will not help this nation.
The American Economic Association met for the first time this year, and couldn’t have had a gloomier outcome. The bottom line, no one knows how to fix the financial crisis. Professional economists from around the country discussed the likely outcome of the newly elected president’s plan, and all of them came to the same conclusion. Obama’s stimulus package may offer short-term benefits, but ultimately will wreak havoc on the future taxpayers of America. Not to mention the fact that we’ve seen how poorly the bailout plans have helped so far. Corporate executives remain unchecked and arrogant still receiving their bonuses while Congress unashamedly continues to attach pork barrel spending to recent stimulus bills. Regrettably, a method on how to address this crisis must be made soon, and as of right now we don’t have many new ideas. The unfortunate truth is that Congress — on both sides of the aisle — has thus far proven itself inept and often corrupt, and until someone holds them accountable, there will be no change for America.
President Obama promises complete transparency in both Washington and the private sector for this stimulus package. Our only hope is that promise remains truthful. Lobbyists and special interest groups haven’t survived since the beginning of Congress by simply respecting the rules of the game, and Congressional “leaders” haven’t been affected by this financial crisis like the rest of us have. Members of Congress harassed the auto executives for flying in on their private jets to attend the bailout hearing, and then they all hopped on their private jets to go to the 2009 Presidential Inauguration. Unless they are facing impeachment or failed reelection, where is their incentive to change business as usual?
Until Obama starts calling out corrupt officials in public fashion, they will have no problem satisfying the needs of those special interest groups that generously “donate” to their campaigns. The good news, it does seem that the new president has the leadership and audacity to do the deed; but will he? Just because W. has been replaced by a man who has attained celebrity status doesn’t mean the sun will suddenly rise on this dark day of economics. I do not discount the fact that this particular celebrity certainly seems to have the necessary qualifications to get the ball rolling in the right direction. I must simply err on the side of caution, because it will take much more than powerful speeches and inspiring chants to bring down this beast of a problem.