Weekly Column of U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) - “It’s the Economy, Mr. President”

Posted on March 22, 2009

This past week, President Obama did what many Americans did: he picked his bracket in the NCAA basketball tournament, and he picked North Carolina, which predictably caused their rival, the coach of Duke, Coach "K", to say the following: “Somebody said we're not in President Obama's final four, and as much as I respect what he is doing, really, the economy is something that he should focus on, probably more than the brackets.” There is some truth to that. The president is very impressive and is capable of doing many things at once. But, we don't need a lot of things done at once right now. We have one big issue – it’s the economy, Mr. President. While all of us have our role to play in this – senators, businesspeople, all of us across the country – there is only one person who can do what the President of the United States can do. He is the agenda setter. He is the mobilizer. In October of 1952, General Eisenhower was running for President and said: “I shall go to Korea.” He was elected, and on November 29, he went to Korea, and said he would concentrate his attention on the job of ending the Korean War until it is honorably ended. There were a lot of other things going on in 1952 and 1953 that needed to be solved, but President Eisenhower focused on the Korean war, ended it, and the country was grateful. It is time for President Obama to take a lesson from President Eisenhower and focus on fixing the banks and getting the economy moving again. He can do that. The country needs for him to do that, and the country would be grateful if he did. I think Coach K's advice to our impressive new president is good advice. We know he can have summits, make trips, and deal with a lot of different things. But we have a tough problem, and, again, it is the economy, Mr. President. We need you to focus on the economy and concentrate on it, until the banks are fixed and credit is flowing. We need a budget that doesn't spend so much, tax so much, and raise debt so much. Otherwise, we will deliver a country to our children and grandchildren that they can't afford.