Economic stimulus is picture of excess

Published 9:55 am Friday, January 30, 2009

The economic stimulus package, valued at $816 billion dollars passed the U.S. House this week and is on to the Senate for consideration next week.

A completed bill is expected on President Obama’s desk by mid February. There are a few things we should all know about this bill and the economic crisis that led to its passage.

We should know that it is highly unlikely that this is the last stimulus or the final cost of fixing our deeply troubled economy.

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The American economy, the largest in the world, about 4 times larger than the next economy, at over $13.5 trillion dollars, will need more than this one bump to offset the losses that have happened and are happening daily in GDP and consumer confidence.

So, if you think this stimulus is too expensive, as my mother used to say, “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.”

We should all know that the banking community will still require more rescue; that our auto industry cannot survive without additional help; that our homes decrease in value and our neighbor’s foreclosure have to stabilize before the economy can be strong again. So this package is the beginning of the fix, not the end.

This week the House passage of the stimulus bill was along party lines, with zero Republican votes.

There are many reasons for this, but one stands out; Rush Limbaugh, the party’s lead spokesperson, has said it simply: He wants the Obama presidency to fail.

And, apparently, the House Republicans think they can help the President fail by refusing to support any economic stimulus for the nation.

Now our Republican friends tell us they must be steadfast in refusing to support the stimulus because the bill is, as George Will has written this week, “wretched excess.”

Republicans have, in their defense, prepared and submitted an alternative bill, consisting entirely of tax cuts, one that failed to pass in the House.

Their argument is that we should put the money in the hands of “the people” and let them spend it and revitalize the economy.

It might have been a compelling argument if we did not know how the Republicans use language, but we have seen Republican tax cuts before and they all work the same.

My tax cut puts $12 bucks a week into my paycheck. The tax cut for the guy who chairs Bank of America (who lost $45 billion last year) is $300,000.

Now after I get my tax cut my social security withholding goes up $10 a month, my 401K gets trashed in the stock market, and my home de-values, taking away all my equity.

Six months after the tax cut I realize I now have less income than before the cut. My friend at the bank, with a $300 million dollar bonus, paid for by taxpayer rescue money, gets an additional tax cut on his dividend earnings.

What is supposed to happen next, under the Republican plan, is that my friend at the bank buys a car and that keeps me employed working to make his car.

Except it doesn’t trickle down at all, because he just keeps the money.

The Democrats went another direction and added the wretched excess of funding additional weeks of unemployment, help with Medicaid funding for those who lose their insurance, and money for states whose unemployment funds are exhausted.

They funded infrastructure improvements that create jobs, and health care costs reductions for all Americans. hey also funded some projects they probably should not have included in this bill.

Which America do you prefer?

Jim Crawford is a contributing columnist for The Tribune and a former educator at Ohio University Southern.