Andrew Clark: Generation Bailout

Is our generation of smart, young, ambitious students really going to settle with what the Obama administration is doing to the economy? Within five short years, we are going to be the ones entering the workplace, earning salaries, seeking careers, taking loans, paying taxes and finding jobs. It’s no secret that our economy is in the tank right now and that jobs are scarce. Many of us are planning to stay in school as long as we can to try to “wait out” this crisis.

Yet we seem to be cheerful at worst and ambivalent at best about Obamanomics: the $800 billion stimulus package, the upcoming mortgage bailout, the bank bailouts, the biggest deficit since World War II, soon-to-be higher taxes on businesses and investors and a stock market that has crashed almost a thousand points since Obama’s inauguration.

In case you don’t understand the implications of the deficit, here’s a short explanation: The deficit is money the government didn’t have, so it had to borrow. Eventually, the government needs to pay that money back with interest. That’s where you and I come in. The government is going to be so busy paying back loans from the 2000s that it won’t have time to promote our general welfare in the 2020s, 2030s and beyond.

But that’s how it’s always worked, you say? Not quite. An alarming report from the Brookings Institution says that the market finds it at least imaginable that the U.S. could default – yes, default, as in not be able to pay back – on its debt within the decade. You think it’d be bad if Ford or Bank of America went under? Try the U.S. government!

I wouldn’t be as concerned for our future if Obama was the archangel of sound fiscal policy. But the White House’s next item on the agenda? A mortgage bailout program costing nearly $100 billion. After that, raising taxes on the businesses and corporations that most likely will be employing us. Then, pricey nationalized health care (excuse me, health care “reform”). He may say his goal is to cut the deficit in half by the end of his term. But actions speak much louder than words.

I’m not blaming Obama for an economic crisis that he has largely inherited. I’m blaming him for an economic crisis that he is going to make worse.

If someone at GW wants to make a passionate defense of Keynesian, spend-spend-spend theory, by all means, please do. But that’s not what I have been hearing. Instead, criticisms of Obama’s economic policy have been met with vague statements like “let’s just see what happens,” or “just give him a chance,” like he is a small child trying out for the school play.

As students, we are going to soon be at the forefront of making economic ideas and shaping government policy, and our ideologies are no doubt being molded in these formative years of our lives. Are we going to capitulate and become Generation Bailout? Or are we going to take a critical look at how our money is being spent, at what will work and what won’t?

In 1939, at the climax of the Great Depression, Roosevelt’s treasury secretary testified to Congress: “We have tried spending money. We are spending more than we have ever spent before, and it does not work.”

Let’s not let ourselves get there.

The writer, a sophomore majoring in political communication, is a Hatchet columnist and a member of the College Republicans executive board.

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