Memo to Barack Obama and the Democratic majority in Congress: you won the election.
We need massive government invention to get out of the economic mess we're in. We don't want the next ten years to be called America's lost decade. That's why the American people, in their infinite wisdom, sent a huge Democratic majority to congress and gave Obama the White House.
But now we're hearing that Obama wants to give $310 billion of his $775 billion stimulus plan over to tax cuts.He's said he wants to get 80 votes in the Senate for the stimulus bill. And the Democratic Congress seems to be fretting excessively about being accused of wasteful spending. What the heck?
Look, to paraphrase the immortal words of George W. Bush four years ago, "We had an accountability moment, and it's called the 2008 elections." I never thought I'd be saying this, but I wish Obama would behave a little more like his soon—to—be—predecessor. No matter what, Democrats will always be accused of wasteful tax and spend liberalism. So it's absurd that, at the moment when we actually need wasteful tax and spend liberalism, they're shying away from it.
What happened to audacity? Most economists agree that we need about a trillion dollars worth of stimulus. Obama and the congressional Democrats should stop worrying about political appearances right now and start worrying about results. Voters won't care whether the stimulus bill was wasteful and contained too much spending in the 2010 mid-terms or the 2012 presidential election as long as it works. If it doesn't work, and the economy gets worse or just doesn't recovery years, then there won't be anything the Democrats can do anyway. So they might as well stop pussyfooting around and give us something more than a watered down stimulus package.
- More from CNBC's John Harwood's Exclusive Interview With President-elect Obama
This is especially important for those of us in our twenties. I don't want to spend the next decade living in a country with a half-dead economy, where jobs and money are really hard to come by. A repeat of the great depression seems unlikely, but we might end up reliving Japan's lost decade if Obama and the Democrats don't get a little bolder. What good is it to us if the economic climate doesn't improve until we're in our mid-thirties? That's a real possibility if the stimulus package doesn't work.
Mr. Obama, this decade belongs to the millennial generation. Please don't lose it out of a misplaced desire for bipartisan consensus.
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