February 6th, 2009
02:00 PM ET

The New Era of Irresponsibility

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Jacob Sullum
Reason Online

Last October, while campaigning in Toledo, Barack Obama called for "a new ethic of responsibility." The nation's economic troubles, he said, occurred partly because "everyone was living beyond their means," including politicians who "spent money they didn't have." In his inaugural address last month, Obama regretted "our collective failure to make hard choices" and heralded "a new era of responsibility."

Now President Obama, as one of his first priorities, is pushing a gargantuan "stimulus" plan that will add around $1 trillion to the national debt and cannot possibly work as advertised. Welcome to the new era of responsibility.


Filed under: Barack Obama • Economy • Raw Politics
soundoff (20 Responses)
  1. bryson davis

    Stimulus??? How can anyone believe that pumping money into serice jobs like community development (Acorn) and education
    programs will stimulate the economy. The small amount of infrastructure projects included will have to await engineering and federal bid process(union only apply). This is nothing more than one huge liberal pork buffett compiled by years of pent up demand. Stimulating jobs will have to be in a manufacturing type invironment where value is added to something-not just printing money and passing it out. Thinking otherwise is delusional. The problems with this economy are fundamental and have been created by both parties dating back to J.Carter. Every administration has postponed small recessions that have now manifested into this huge one. No one wanted a downturn on their watch. Our economic model was a good one. It needs fixing-not changing.

    February 8, 2009 at 11:18 pm |
  2. Travis

    Brandon from Ft. Worth,

    I remeber how it was to be young and naive. It must be terribly uncomfortable for you to slowly realize that President Obama is a politician, a man, and nothing more. He will not deliver utopia despite how much we "hope" for it. Only big-time and unfortunately unpleasant change will ultimately help us.

    The citizens of our country (of which I am one) have spent way too much, saved too little, and produced not enough. We only complain that we are entitled to MORE. Well.....the party is over and the bills have come due.

    You see, our government has to BORROW that money for the stimulus plan and the TARP and whatever else our omniscient government dreams up. It borrows that money from other countries like China in the form of bonds. Soon our deficit will be of such proportion that the U.S. may lose it's AAA credit rating on this debt. Once that happens it will cost the government more money to borrow and foreign investment to flee this country. High taxes will surely follow (and I don't mean just for those making >250k). High taxes going to debt payment will result in a drag on our economy. Eventually, China will surpass us as the worlds economic power and our children will not have it as easy as we have had it.

    What is the answer? It is simple... yet painful. We as individuals, households, and government must live within our means. The government cannot solve all of our problems and we should not expect it too.

    ps. I'm not a terrorist. Just a realist.

    February 6, 2009 at 9:26 pm |
  3. We

    Stop That Bill! A Bad Stimulus Will Absolutely Make It Allot Worse...

    Obama is pushing a national bankrupting "stimulus" plan and trying to scare people into going along and approving it saying it will turn into a catastrophe. That is absurd,that bill will be the catastrophe.Yes people are losing jobs daily out there but it's because Obama hasn't addressed the financial and credit problems with the banks,and the mortgage crisis also created by these Banks.

    The problems in our economy originated there and is creating every other problem we are having.Businesses cannot sustain and thrive without credit. People or businesses cannot buy without loans and credit.If they cannot continue to run their businesses they cannot stock and support their business, they cannot pay their employees. Of course they have to cut down and that means more people lose jobs! This now- is Mr. Obama's fault. He needs to stop blaming, they're gone now and he has the money and the control.He got the money to address that before he stepped into that office.

    This so called stimulus doesn't even address those issues at all and cannot possibly resolve those problems or end those lay offs. What is Obama waiting for here? I'll tell you what- To pass his wish list that will break the back of our economy and rob all of us of our savings, money and livelihoods.? He already has another 350 billion dollars to use to address those Real Issues and The Real Causes Of the problems we're having and He has done nothing with it. He needs to Resolve those two if he is to do anything first, the rest will correct itself with it.Cause and effect.Resolve the cause-eliminate the effects! In not doing so Obama is deliberately creating- allowing the decline in the economy forcing businesses to come apart.He is the cause for this on going loss of employment and business shrinkages by neglecting his responsibility to Resolve The Problems With The Funds He Already Received To Do Exactly That With.

    Make no mistake here,that lack of address on Obama's part of those main issues are a deliberate manipulation to achieve his desires and agendas which have little to do with stimulating the economy. Most of what is in that bill has no business being in a stimulus bill at all and can be addressed separately later on in a timely manner,in the proper fashion and gone over with a fine tooth comb. Obama also needs to pay ACORN out of his own pocket for their '$upport" and "help" with his election-Not with our tax dollars! Obama said last night that "that is what a stimulus is.Spending.."

    That's spending that "stimulates our economy Now" Mr. Obama! Not 3 & 4 or more years later.That bill doesn't serve the American people in that respect, and much of what I've read in that bill says to me that our government wants to drive the American people into poverty. We don't want or need more government. Jobs that we will also have to pay for. Any contracts on workable projects and infrastructure needs to be given in The Private Sector Period.There are more than sufficient amounts of businesses and services in the private sector that can be contracted for any of the work needed to stimulate the economy and create more of those jobs in the private sector "NOW". No more government-we need less government, no more dysfunctional organizations.

    If you really look through that plan you might see what I see which is a plan designed to create a poverty nation.A Welfare Nation that is financially enslaved to this government and the rich & wealthy-the Elites around the world.They want to control everything including our children and Us.We will have and do only what they decide we'll have and do.This so called stimulus plan is the Set Trap to a complete loss of our individual rights and freedoms.If we all don't stand up for them and protect them-Game Over.We'll lose everything.....

    Message To Mr. Obama:

    Mr. Obama,You have disappointed the American People extremely.You have lied to us,deceived us from the beginning and are misleading the American People with this bill.The changes you are trying to bring-force on us will not stand. Address and Resolve The Main Problems with The Money You Have Now Mr. Obama .Rewrite that bill Completely, the republicans are right this time- it's a travesty,it's government robbery ,and it's destructive to the American People,The American Dollar,and the American way of life.It's Also Government Robbing the Country and The American People of Today and the Tomorrows, Of A Respectful and Worthy Future and Freedom. We Say "No!" We don't want your "Bad Bill!" .Start over with everyone's input keeping Only the goal of stimulus for "Today" in mind.Oh Yeah, Welcome to the new era of responsibility Mr.Obama, it's yours that needs some integrity.You made allot of promises on the path to that office ,and many broken already. Know that American People will be holding you to account...

    Resolve the Problem Mr. Obama.Use that $350 Billion dollars you Already Have and resolve those main two problems now-first.Then you may not need the other at all...

    February 6, 2009 at 8:40 pm |
  4. yvonne

    who's really running the country?

    February 6, 2009 at 8:15 pm |
  5. Lopez

    This Stimulus Plan is horrible, please if anyone in congress has any decency please throw this plan out the window. I do not want my 2 year & 5 month old children paying on this till they are 80 years old. It is time to get back to basics. We are selling our country away. This is no stimulus plan, it is just payback for all the campaigns of all the politicians we have in office. We will be lucky if only 10 % of the so called stimulus really help our economy. This is shameful!

    February 6, 2009 at 7:42 pm |
  6. Annie Kate

    If someone in Obama's administration would have a press conference and tell us this is the whole plan – and cite each and every bailout or stimulus plan, what they are suppose to do, how will we tell if they are working, and when do we pull the plug on non-working programs then maybe everyone will feel better about the bill. Its this constant surprising us with yet another bailout bill that makes them hard to sell – because you wonder just what is coming at us down the pike.

    February 6, 2009 at 7:21 pm |
  7. Nona DAnna

    Dear Anderson,

    As a lowly taxpayer in this country who is very concerned about the efficiency and effectiveness of our government's spending plans to stimulate the economy, how hard would it be for ANYONE to give the public a simplified overview of what is being presented for taxpayers to swallow? Specifically, how about a chart that shows us what programs are in the plan, projected benefits of each program (e.g., exactly what and how many jobs are being created), the cost to the taxpayer PER JOB, projected total cost of the program, and who the targeted recipients are. Get rid of the verbose 800 plus pages of junk and give us a condensed spreadsheet. Is this so doggone difficult? Let us (the taxpayers) see what exactly is in this plan and let the taxpayers vote!

    Love you keeping them honest!


    February 6, 2009 at 6:33 pm |
  8. Luis

    "The New Era of Irresponsibility" is Obama kidding me?

    The government pushed this reckless behaviors on wall street. What is supposed to happen in a Free Market environment is "fear" should put a hold on this risky business that's going on.

    The fear of losing it all. The fear of not getting bailouts.
    Instead the government guarantees debts and guarantees bailouts.

    We left the free Market system years ago and its time we get back on it.

    February 6, 2009 at 6:29 pm |
  9. Mike, Syracuse NY

    Brandon, I served my country for 22 years in uniform. How dare you compare me to a terroist. You don't need a crystal ball to add. The deficit this fiscal year alone will be $1 Tillion. That's before a stimulus. Add in $800 billion stimulus and the other half of TARP, that's another $350 billion. All borrowed. That means the debt will be $2.15 Trillion this year alone. That's 5X Bush's worst deficit year. The numbers speak for themselves. Do I hope it works? Yes, I AM an American. Do I think it will? Nope.

    February 6, 2009 at 6:22 pm |
  10. Brandon from Ft. Worth

    Mike, Syracuse NY February 6th, 2009 3:32 pm ET

    Jacob, It sounds like you were one of the 53 million Americans who drank the koolade. You didn’t really expect him to do what he said did you? Bush may have doubled the debt in 8 years, but Obama will only need 2 to do it again.

    I love people who belive they are fortune tellers. Predicting that Obama will leave us in debt sounds like something a terrorist would say and not an American citizen. I love this country and I watched Bush destroy everything we stood for and I always hoped that he would get it right but he didnt. Obama has been in office 2 weeks and you are already hating sit back and enjoy the show.

    February 6, 2009 at 5:06 pm |
  11. Brandon

    This country hasnt been in this shape since the GREAT DEPRESSION unemployment is rising, banks arent lending, and the sad thing is that it is still predicted to get worse before it starts to get better. I dont know what you people who oppose the stimulus plan are hearing but those are the facts. If we do nothing and cities cant afford to pay their police, fire department, or teachers what are we going to do. Let us not wait till the worst happens before we respond. PLEASE STIMULATE US NOW.

    February 6, 2009 at 4:58 pm |
  12. jarrod

    i don't think they are putting enough into this package I have heard so many different numbers and by everyone doing there own math figures and the fact that they give us americans divided equally what they are going to spend and already have spent the sum of 15,000 per person

    Now with that in mind how are they going to honestly make a difference with this package when the projects are going to be ate up fuel, profits, materials ect it is not making much sense to me at how long it is going take burn thru this money.

    take a loaf of bread to nearest metro park and feed the 40 ducts thier with one loaf bread how many did you not feed

    February 6, 2009 at 4:23 pm |
  13. Maria

    Stimulus package will never solve the problem. To fix the crisis get rid of corruption and re-program capitalism.

    February 6, 2009 at 3:58 pm |
  14. Linda B., Ga.

    We need to cut the BS and get on with Life. Bush and his cronies were giving away the FARM to the ULTRA RICH and Wall Street Slime.
    Of course, it is going to take MORE $$'s to get us back on track. We wouldn't be in the shape we are now IF freebies hadn't been given out left and right.

    Whether You like him or not, Pres. Obama WILL turn this country around...

    February 6, 2009 at 3:54 pm |
  15. Mike, Syracuse NY

    Jacob, It sounds like you were one of the 53 million Americans who drank the koolade. You didn't really expect him to do what he said did you? Bush may have doubled the debt in 8 years, but Obama will only need 2 to do it again.

    February 6, 2009 at 3:32 pm |
  16. nemispeaks

    Who is "Jacob Sullum"? the text appears out of context. It is missing a legit article.
    I understand the critique of spending money that the country does not have, but borrowing money to evade a shut down is an appropriate and valid economic strategy. It is a highly effective business model. The point is to give this a chance. The critiques and assessment of the present administration are very much necessary- we must not lose sight of our evaluations- but only if they lead us forward and not keep us stuck on outdated ideologies.

    February 6, 2009 at 3:20 pm |
  17. Ms. Russell

    It seems that NOT passing a stimulus would be working against the interest of American people.

    Those who are being laid off are worried and they want a stimulus plan passed pronto. And not one full of tax cuts which completely disregards the fact that they are no longer employed and are facing uncertain futures.

    But NOT passing a stimulus plan (that does infuse money into economy by spending) we negate the working poor who make it possible for us to live our confortable lifestyles. (hotel workers, maids, waitresses, etc)

    I'm a centrist with traditional conservative values, but it's these petty arguments that keep me in the middle leaning towards the left.

    February 6, 2009 at 2:59 pm |
  18. JC- Los Angeles

    Mark Twain famously said that common sense is not that common and unfortunately, our esteemed leadership proves his point time and again.

    It's one thing to require a do-over on the Oath of Office, Bill Richardson, Tom Daschle, Nancy Killefer or Hilda Solis but an entirely different matter to do it when trillions of dollars are at stake.

    It's as if all our leaders, executives and politicians practice on the general public, shareholders and taxpayers; it's then the height of hypocrisy (Henry Paulson) when they say the situation changed.

    Correct me if 'm wrong, but shouldn't vision and foresight be prerequisites when handling so much money?

    February 6, 2009 at 2:52 pm |
  19. earle,florida

    Know on can forsee the future,but if you sit on your hands,the future will never come to pass! Choose your poison,...? Go President Obama!

    February 6, 2009 at 2:39 pm |
  20. xtina, chicago IL

    thank you for the great article ! Really concise

    February 6, 2009 at 2:09 pm |