Published 7:19 pm Thursday, January 1, 2009

By Staff
Welcome, 2009.
With the arrival of the new year comes hopes and desires for 2009 to be a better year than its immediate predecessor. A new year is like tossing dice in Las Vegas — one never knows what the result will be until the toss is over. It is the same way with a new year. One has to wait until it is over before determining whether it was good, bad or indifferent.
The new year will start off with at least two historic events. The United States of America will see its first black president take his oath of office. As soon as he takes office, Barack Obama will inherit a troubled economy, a war in Iraq, a war in Afghanistan and other things that come with being the leader of the free world.
Obama and his administration must find a way to reverse this nation’s recession and put Americans on the road to economic recovery. It will not be an easy task. The Obama strategy should include some kind of relief for as many Americans as possible, something like stimulus checks and tax cuts. Providing Americans money they can spend in an effort to revive a sluggish economy makes sense.
On Sunday, David Axelrod, a top adviser to Obama, said the nation’s tumbling economy will not keep the Obama administration from keeping its promise of a tax cut for the nation’s middle class.
Axelrod, during his appearances on at least two news shows, made a good point when he noted that stimulus checks issued in 2008 were used by many people to pay down debt instead of spending the money and giving the economy a boost as the Bush administration had desired. Spending such money at neighborhood shops and service providers will do more to stimulate the economy than reducing debt, but recipients of stimulus checks should spend that money the way they see fit.
Later this month, North Carolina’s first female governor takes office. When Lt. Gov. Bev Perdue becomes Gov. Perdue, she faces some challenges.
As the nation does, North Carolina faces economic distress. The Old North State faces a potential $3 billion (about 15 percent of the state’s budget) shortfall in the budget this year. The state’s probation system is in a mess because it cannot find some of the probationers it is supposed to be keeping a wary eye on.
Perdue, according to the North Carolina News Network, is preparing a stimulus package for the state. Perdue contends that federal stimulus money should be invested at the state level to have its greatest effect.
That effect, at least in part, should be to help people who most need help.
As Chris Fitzsimon, executive editor of NC Policy Watch, said, “Time to the end the pro-stimulus, anti-stimulus political dance and start thinking about people who need help as the priority, not as the last resort.”
With some luck and planning, 2009 should be a stimulating year.