CORRECTION: This commentary incorrectly identifies a scene in "The Godfather" movie. "Leave the gun. Take the cannoli," is spoken by Peter Clemenza to Rocco after the killing of Paulie.
TEXT OF COMMENTARY
TESS VIGELAND: Today, President Obama called the differences over a proposed stimulus package "very modest." The Senate took up a $900 billion version today. The House passed its own $819 billion bill last week.
According to commentator Todd Buchholz, both the president and Congress need a reality check.
Todd Buchholz: There's a scene in "The Godfather" when hot-headed Sonny Corleone gets whacked by two thugs. The senior thug turns to the younger and says, "Leave the gun, take the cannoli."
Our hot-headed housing and banking sectors have been whacked, and now we wonder: What firms do we rescue? Which do we leave for the undertaker? The free market is not a pain-free market. Some live and some die.
Preventing failure is like trying to put the economy in a lockbox -- safe from damage, but unable to move ahead.
The end of the Cold War left thousands of aerospace engineers jobless. Now many work at Cisco and Apple.
Thank goodness Theodore Roosevelt didn't put the economy in a lockbox -- or we'd never have driven a car, flown on an airplane, or expected to live past age 50.
Neither Republican nor Democrat leaders have even a rule-of-thumb for rescuing firms. Lehman dies, AIG limps on. Heck, Larry Flynt is lobbying for a bailout of the porn industry. Great, even our national libido needs a stimulus package.
Now Congress wants to contort President Obama's $825 billion fiscal plan. Congressmen can't wait to put their names on bridges, tunnels, roller skating rinks for senior citizens. Lobbying in Washington is so crowded, corporate jets can't get landing slots.
This is a mess.
Rather than bailing out those who've failed, rather than tax rebates where we all just send checks to each other, rather than paving every road with gold-plated blacktop, let's ignite new incentives. Cut taxes for companies that hire new employees. Cut taxes for jobless workers who take a new job. Cut taxes for companies that buy new equipment. Cut taxes for tech firms that add to their R&D budgets. This is not tax-cutting gone foolishly wild.
Foolish is when you waste money giving it away to make up for past blunders. Foolish is when you give in because some CEO puts a gun to your head and says, "The whole world will end unless you give me money."
Enough foolishness. Leave the gun. Take the cannoli. Bet on the future.
VIGELAND: Todd Buchholz is a writer and former White House economic adviser to the first President Bush. His latest book is "New Ideas From Dead CEOs."