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February 12, 2009 3:42 am

Stimulus: Take time to get it right

Written by Tribune Staff

Americans have experienced a lot of unprecedented moments in the last few months, from the stock market plunges in the fall to the election and inauguration of our first African-American president.

On Monday night, as President Barack Obama gave his first prime-time press conference, he spoke of another unprecedented step: A stimulus bill to spend more money than ever before on reviving America's faltering economy.

The bill advanced in the U.S. Senate Tuesday without the support of Wyoming's Sens. Mike Enzi and John Barrasso, who both objected to the amount of spending and its rushed passing.

Obama is right that something needs to be done and soon. He inherited the current economy in its ramshackle state, and in the early days of his presidency, Obama's priority is to get America back on track.

However, as Enzi pointed out on the Senate floor Monday, is the bill being passed simply for the sake of urgency?

“The American people want Congress to act now, to act with urgency. We don't have time to wait. That's what the party in charge is telling us. My reply is, do we have time to get it right?” Enzi said. “The American people don't want us to go fast for the sake of being fast — they want us to solve the problem, and they want a solution that makes sense to them.”

An $800 billion stimulus and recovery package is so vast that it's beyond comprehension for the American taxpayer.

A New York Times editorial Monday urged swift action, but also shared Enzi's sentiment of getting it right: “A bill that is merely better than nothing won't be nearly good enough. The economy is too fragile. And the numbers are too huge.”

With a declining stock market, increasing unemployment and stagnant economic growth across the United States, it's clear that action is necessary.

As the bill now heads to a House-Senate conference, it's crucial that members of Congress negotiate the best version of a stimulus package, even if it takes a little more time.