Pass a Patriot Bond

Congress should pass an emergency stimulus program no smaller than $100 billion and no later than Aug. 1 or the economic crisis will worsen and voters will impose anti-incumbent term limits in November.

Leaders should summon the best minds in America to public service, including Warren Buffett as Treasury secretary, Bill Clinton as über-ambassador for Middle East peace and Al Gore and Arnold Schwarzenegger to lead an American Future Commission to create the real JFK moon-shot program for our times.

Let’s enact a Patriot Bond, modeled after the War Bond of the 1940s, structured like the Savings Bond, to raise at least $500 billion over 20 years for urgent national needs including American veterans and new energy sources.

Michael Douglas in “The American President” said this: These are serious times that demand serious people. Today we live in serious times without serious leaders and without even a serious debate about our crises or their solutions.

Last November I wrote in this paper calling for a six-month freeze on foreclosures and warning of a cascading credit crisis that would engulf our economy. I warned of the escalating pain of skyrocketing oil and food prices and the severe consequences of inaction.

What have Congress and the president done since then? Virtually nothing. The rebate was a plus. The rest was a gigantic injection of a capital bailout into the financial institutions most responsible for the problem. Yet those firms continue to tighten credit to good corporate and individual customers, keep consumer interest rates high and strangle the economy.

What has been done over 30 years to promote new energy? Virtually nothing. What has been done to save the planet from climate change? Nothing. What has been done to mobilize the American people to great deeds? Nothing. What has been done to inspire the most qualified people to public service? Nothing.

Even Al Gore tells “Meet the Press” that life on Earth is threatened by climate change, but serving in the government to save the planet is beneath him.

These are serious times that demand serious people. Next week my column will ask Sens. Obama, Clinton and McCain to mobilize the entire entertainment and sports industries to an all-out campaign on behalf of our troops, vets and military families. For today I propose this:

First, there must be a substantial stimulus package to immediately bring significant money to middle-income and poor Americans. This would create some support for the economy and limit some pain for Americans who bear the pain of inexcusable policy failures.

Second, let’s summon the best minds in America. Bill Clinton is extraordinarily gifted to seek Middle East peace. Warren Buffett would immediately restore confidence and credibility with consumers and markets.

Third, let’s immediately create an American Future Commission to plan a historic energy, environment and economic reconstruction. Former Vice President Gore, California Gov. Schwarzenegger and JFK’s counselor Ted Sorensen, who was involved in the moon-shot triumph, could lead it.

Fourth, let’s create a Patriot Bond to involve every American with the means to make a safe, conservative investment to build America’s future. Let’s ask a hundred million Americans to join our nation’s best minds and rise to the occasion.

Without this mobilization, nothing is possible. With it, nothing is beyond our reach.

Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen and Bill Alexander, then-chief deputy whip of the House. He can be reached at brentbbi@webtv.net.