In a Time of Crisis, We Must All Step Up

In a Time of Crisis, We Must All Step Up

We are closing in on the symbolic 100th day of the presidential administration of Barack Obama, and America has witnessed a standard of leadership that is as rare as the complexity of the crises confronting our nation. Facing daunting economic challenges and no small political opposition, President Obama has accomplished more in the first several weeks of his administration than a newly elected president typically gets done within the first year in office.

After less than a month in office, working almost nonstop since he became president-elect and pulling together most of his administration in record time, Obama achieved his first major objective when he signed his $787 billion economic stimulus bill into law on Feb.17. It’s far too early to begin to assess the Obama presidency; he’s clearly just getting started. While Obama predicted that most Americans would start seeing the benefits of the new tax cuts associated with the stimulus package as early as this month, we have a long way to go to fully restore our economy, and we still have to address huge challenges ranging from healthcare affordability to the mortgage crisis. Yet the president’s swift and purposeful, yet thoughtful and measured brand of leadership has yielded tangible results in the early going. Obama continues to reward our faith in his leadership, and he deserves the support of all Americans in these difficult times.

That’s why I, along with millions of other Americans, was appalled by the petty attacks on the president, distractions that have absolutely no place on the agenda of Americans struggling to survive this economic crisis. Nonissues such as the article questioning the president’s U.S. citizenship and the racist New York Post cartoon comparing him to a monkey slaughtered by police officers dishonor not only the commander in chief but the very office of the presidency. Worse, they pull valuable energy and attention away from what really matters: our citizens are risking their lives in two foreign wars; families are losing their homes and jobs; businesses are laying off workers and closing shop; young people are being denied access to a college education; and millions of Americans are suffering and dying for lack of affordable healthcare.

As bleak as the headlines continue to be, and as difficult as the road ahead is, I share our president’s faith in our nation’s ability to pull through to better economic times, and to be all the stronger for it. While the economic stimulus package cannot bring instant relief, it will begin the process of revitalizing our economy and pulling us through this recessionary cycle–if we all do our part. You see, it’s not enough for the White House to take disciplined and resolute action. It’s not just up to President Obama. We cannot demand fiscal responsibility from Washington without demanding the same from ourselves. We cannot live in expectation of a bailout without changing our own attitudes  towards how we spend, save, invest and manage our financial resources. American industry cannot lay off and cost-cut its way out