07/01/11 — No quick fix: For confidence to return, Americans need to know that Washington gets it

View Archive

No quick fix: For confidence to return, Americans need to know that Washington gets it

County Commissioner Andy Anderson is right.

These are not ordinary times.

And while there are still some holdouts who do not seem to get it, the truth is the dollar buys less than it used to and there are many Wayne County families who are struggling.

Higher gas prices, higher bills and concerns about home equity and retirements are making many families cut to the bone -- and leaving them living month to month.

It is especially tough for retirees whose fixed incomes do not allow them to cover increases and force them to juggle expenses, sometimes cutting back on necessities to pay the bills.

That is why the thought of a tax increase of any kind and not a tax cut makes so many people angry and why a revaluation right now seems like a slap.

The truth is, they are scared.

Despite what the numbers say, there are still people looking for work who have given up or who are underemployed as they struggle to navigate this tough new environment.

There are families who are concerned about what they are going to do in the future, who are afraid to count on job stability or even a slight cost of living raise. Their employers are too unsure about the next shoe that is waiting to drop to increase expenses on anything, let alone personnel, even if they really would like to.

That is the reality of the world we are in right now.

And even though he says he understands, President Barack Obama really still does not seem to realize that clinging to a policy that is obviously not working is not the way to go.

Stimulus money did not make states more solvent. In fact, in North Carolina's case, we are now paying for the decision to take the money as an easy fix last year. Now, this state is facing the same cuts that others have already had to make. The only thing the stimulus money stimulated in North Carolina is a belief that perhaps the best government intervention is really no intervention.

During his speech regarding the future of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan, the president mentioned that it was time to come home and focus on repairing the damaged U.S. economy.

And he is right about one part of that statement, it is time to get people back to work and to give families the hope of a future.

But we are not going to get there with more smoke and mirrors and more quick fixes.

What needs to happen now is tough love.

Americans have no confidence that anyone in Washington really gets how bad it is or that anyone there has any real, workable plan to fix it.

American businesses are not investing in capital projects and more employees because they do not trust the government not to come up with some ridiculous new tax or fee that they might not have planned for in their budgets. They are sacred to death of the cavernous health care initiative and the costs involved.

That's the reality. A business cannot survive these days if it is not prudent and proactive; it is just too dangerous to do otherwise.

To fix this economy, the administration has to restore confidence that the leadership a. understands the pressures families and businesses face; b. realizes that the road to building a stronger economy is giving people more of their own money to work with and not handing it to bureaucrats; and c. is ready to stop traveling all over creation and playing golf long enough to sit down and come up with a plan that is not simply employing more people in government jobs.

And after that is all done, it is time for some serious cutbacks -- not random, high-profile cuts but deep audits that eliminate overspending and pinpoint where there are expenses we can do without -- starting in the White House and halls of Congress. It is time to teach government how to live within its means.

This is not an easy path. There is a lot of work to do to get this economy back on track.

But if the due diligence is done, and the party lines set aside, we might just come up with a plan that grows this economy instead of stifling it.

And that would be an achievement worth celebrating.

Published in Editorials on July 1, 2011 10:40 AM