Restoring consumer confidence critical job

Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 14, 2002

For President Bush, restoring consumer confidence in big business is Job One.

And it’s a critical job.

As the country reels from the string of corporate corruption scandals ­ from Enron to WorldCom to Martha Stewart’s unfashionable brush with insider trading allegations ­ consumer confidence is shrinking at an alarming rate.

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The Dow ­ a critical barometer of investor’s faith and confidence ­ dropped below 9,000 points this week. It was the first time the market closed below 9,000 since the days immediately following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

But this time, the investors were reacting not to terrorism but to capitalism gone awry.

From "cooking the books" to insider tips on stock deals, some major players in corporate America are surfacing not as captains of industry, but as pirates of the principles of free trade, capitalism and enterprise we cherish in America.

And it’s time we reclaim that confidence and those values.

President Bush has proposed a package of measures to do just that. In his call for greater "corporate responsibility," the President also called for $100 million in additional funding to the Securities and Exchange Commission to give it the technology it needs to monitor corporations; for stiffer penalties for those who commit fraud; and a new Justice Department task force to investigate corporate crime.

That package may not go far enough, but it’s an important first step. And that’s what we need right now.

President Bush and Congress must put aside partisan politics to work together to develop the regulations and enforcement we need to reign in those who would take advantage of our free enterprise system.


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