Opinion

Op-ed: Mr. President, put (our) money where your mouth is

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Opinion,Op-Eds

President Obama declared April "National Fiscal Capability Month" and, with his budget coming out this week, it's time for him to put our money where his mouth is. The moment is ripe for the president to prove that his proclamation is less political and more a genuine desire to educate on fiscal responsibility.

For those unfamiliar with the process, Obama is nearly two months late on his budget -- it's due on the first Monday in February. This nation stands willing to forgive his presidential tardiness though, if his budget addresses one of our top concerns, government spending.

In a national poll sponsored by the YG Network, 83 percent of respondents identified government spending as one of their top concerns. Perhaps more important, the intensity of their concern was higher than for any other issue facing the nation.

Good news for the president, though, as he is poised to prove that he understands the task and that he is capable of leading this nation down a path of fiscal responsibility and reduced government spending.

He can also show us that he is willing to engage the rest of our national leaders in a serious conversation about the true meaning of the fiscal responsibility for which he so ardently preaches.

You see, fiscal responsibility doesn't mean you that you have a duty to provide everything to everyone -- which, it seems, may be the misconceived notion in White House.

Instead, it means that you exercise diligence and restraint when it comes to financial decision making, just like the millions of American small business owners do every single day.

Small businesses understand that the day-to-day decisions are what amount to financial viability -- a lesson that can ring true with even for the largest employer in the country: the federal government.

And for a nation whose largest industry is, well, running the country, making changes to ensure long-term viability is necessary to its very survival. Companies like mine have to examine every penny we spend and every employee we hire. It's not so much to ask that the government be as careful with our money as we are.

American businesses and citizens alike are starting to practice more fiscal responsibility, as demonstrated in the March jobs report that came out Friday. The report showed that only 88,000 jobs were added to the economy last month, and some sectors even showed declines.

With only a small drop in the unemployment rate (0.1 percent) and a retail industry that shows signs of exhaustion, it goes without saying that businesses across the country are stretching their dollars further than ever.

It could be due to backlash from the now-expired payroll tax holiday, or a sign that the regulatory climate has grown thick with red tape; whatever the reason, there has never been a better time to show a commitment to fiscal responsibility, through reduced government spending, than on the heels of a rather gloomy jobs report in a down economy.

We are all feeling the pinch, and it's coming from a number of places. There's no doubt that small businesses still hang in the balance of a what remains a shaky economy, so there may not be a better time to turn attention to creating a culture of fiscal responsibility.

But for a man who single-handedly increased the burden of debt on individual households by more than $50,000, perhaps it's time he puts our money where his mouth is.

Brett McMahon is president of Miller & Long DC and a spokesman for the Free Enterprise Alliance's Halt the Assault campaign.

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