Diary

Stop passing the taxpayer's buck

It seems we can’t turn on the television without seeing the bankers and politicians responsible for this economic crisis passing the blame. Harry Truman used to say, “The buck stops here.” Today, politicians pass the buck. And the bucks. A lot of bucks. And they’re taking the bucks they pass from us.

Despite their failures, the politicians in Washington, DC seem to think they have the solutions, too. Unfortunately, those solutions are familiar: If only they could spend more, tax more, regulate more, and control more of the economy, our problems will be solved.
Well, government is bigger, more intrusive and more controlling than it has ever been.

How has that worked so far?

I don’t buy it. Our nation works best when people are given more freedom, not less. We don’t need more regulations and we certainly don’t need new taxes to fix this problem.

What we need is responsibility.

Bad business decisions should not be bailed out by the taxpayers. And politicians who make bad decisions should not turn to taxpayers to bail them out, either.

Washington, DC and big corporations need to assume the kind of responsibility that small business people have always had to practice.

That’s not just good economic policy. It is good values and good common sense.

There are thousands of small business owners across the First District of Kansas who do not get bailed out if they make a poor decision. They know they own the consequences of their actions. Sure, it’s not always easy, but here in Kansas we wouldn’t have it any other way. We don’t ask for much, except to be left alone, allowed to keep our hard-earned profits, and to run our businesses as we see fit.

That should not be too much to ask.

So, as the politicians in Washington, DC debate how best to fix our banking industry, I have one piece of advice for them: Whatever “fix” you come up with, please leave our Kansas community bankers out of it. I’ve met dozens of community bankers across the First District so far in this campaign, and I have yet to meet one who made a sub-prime loan.

My fear is the “fix” coming out of Washington will be just another layer of red tape, telling our bankers how to do what they have already been doing, and doing well, for years. Extra layers of regulation increase the cost of doing business and takes away time that could be spent with their bank patrons. Community bankers in Kansas know how to do their jobs — we need to let them do it. They didn’t get us into this mess; they should not be held accountable for the mistakes of others.

There are complicated and technical aspects to the banking crisis, but basic principles of freedom and responsibility still matter. If those in Washington will remember these principles when they’re passing laws, it will be a step in the right direction. If they do not remember these principles, they’ll be back again, passing our bucks to bail them out of their own bad decisions.