The morning after the Massachusetts Senate election was won by Republican Scott Brown, who categorized his victory as a call for transparency and good government and a rejection of taxation and spending, a morning when economic populism is being discussed as a motivating factor in the Democrats' loss of their Senate supermajority, President Obama signed a memorandum ordering the Treasury to take steps to block government contracts from going to companies that are severely delinquent on their taxes.
Signing a memorandum like this is not a political act in itself, but it does tie into some of the political threads being discussed around the Massachusetts race. Obama highlighted fiscal responsibility, good government, common sense, and some light tinges of anti-corporate rhetoric in his announcement of the memo.
Here are some highlights of what he said:
By issuing this directive, all of us in Washington will be required to be more responsible stewards of your tax dollars. All across this country, there are people who meet their obligations each and every day. You do your jobs. You support your families. You pay the taxes you owe - because it's a fundamental responsibility of citizenship.
In a time of great need, when our families and our nation are finding it necessary to tighten our belts, and be more responsible with how we spend our money, we can't afford to waste taxpayer dollars. And we especially can't afford to let companies game the system. We need to make sure every tax dollar we spend is going to address our nation's urgent needs and to make a difference in the lives of our people.
The status quo, then, is inefficient and wasteful. But the larger, more fundamental point, is that it's wrong. It is simply wrong for companies to take taxpayer dollars and not be taxpayers themselves. We need to insist on the same sense of responsibility in Washington that so many of you strive to uphold in your own lives, in your own families, and in your own businesses.
build on the kind of legislation that Senator McCaskill, Congressman Ellsworth, and Chairman Towns have introduced - and that I introduced when I was a Senator - legislation that will crack down on tax cheats by allowing the IRS to share information about tax delinquency with contracting officials.
The steps I'm directing today and the steps I'm calling on Congress to take are just basic common-sense.
But the efforts I'm outlining today will help scale back waste and abuse. And they will help bring the values of America's government and the values of America's companies in line with the values of the American people.