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Bipartisan approach is good business

The following editorial appeared in the Mankato Free Press.

What ails the U.S. economy may be something as simple as a lack of confidence among consumers and business, and Congress has a central role in “managing” this confidence.

It’s simple. Congress can increase confidence among business and consumers by proving they are working to solve the country’s problems, economic or elsewhere.

A recent report on the so-called “credit crunch” in Free Press Media’s Minnesota Valley Business magazine this month offered this insight: Bankers aren’t hesitating to lend because they don’t have the money or even because the government made a bunch of new rules (which they did). Bankers are reining in lending because the economy remains somewhat uncertain.

That makes perfect sense. Why would you risk money on new business ventures in an economy that might or might not tank next month? Part of that loss of confidence comes from a lot of things Congress is involved with. Congress cannot “create jobs,” but it can create confidence.

And members of Congress should think twice about their pronouncements about how bad things are. Both parties are guilty of this, especially in an election year. And there are enough bad economic indicators for everyone to be labeled with some of the blame.

Members of Congress and others running for office should ask themselves if their political speeches, ads and pronouncements do much to bolster consumer or business confidence in the economy or are just bolstering their own chances for election in November.

One example might highlight the importance of the issue. There has been a growing chorus of candidates who keep contending the economic stimulus plan did not work, did not create jobs and was like flushing tax dollars down the drain. But many credible economists on both sides have said the economic stimulus has helped, and other nonpartisan sources have agreed. We can disagree on the level of effectiveness, but it simply hurts consumer confidence and business confidence to say that $787 billion did not help bolster the economy. Of course it did.

There are other issues that candidates have taken up as well.

If Congress would find a way to be more bipartisan, to show Americans they are indeed working on problems and ready to solve them, confidence would rise. Businesses would take risks, consumers would spend.

It has been one of the longest and worst recessions in years. But there’s also a recovery happening, one that is not always making the headlines. Congress, and indeed the president, have a role in creating hope when people need it most.

They should not be part of the problem in this case, but part of the solution.

This editorial is reprinted with permission.

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