If I have to listen to Bush talking about his "stimulus package" one more time...
... I may just throw up (as my poor old dog Cyanotype just did, all over the rug... sigh). Luckily, as usual, Paul Krugman breaks it down ("An Irrelevant Proposal"):
Here's how it works. Faced with a real problem — terrorism, the economy, nukes in North Korea — the Bush administration's response has nothing to do with solving that problem. Instead it exploits the issue to advance its political agenda.
Nonetheless, the faithful laud our glorious leader's wisdom. For a variety of reasons, including the desire to avoid charges of liberal bias, most reporting is carefully hedged. And the public, reading only praise or he-said-she-said discussions, never grasps the fundamental disconnect between problem and policy.
And so it goes with the administration's "stimulus" plan.
Boosting a stumbling economy ("It's Clinton's fault!" shouted the claque) isn't rocket science. All a sensible plan must do is focus on the present, not the distant future; on those who are suffering, not on those doing well; and on those who are most likely to spend additional money.
Right now a sensible plan would rush help to the long-term unemployed, whose benefits — in an act of incredible callousness — were allowed to lapse last month. It would provide immediate, large-scale aid to beleaguered state governments, which have been burdened with expensive homeland security mandates even as their revenues have plunged. Given our long-run budget problems, any tax relief would be temporary, and go largely to low- and middle-income families.
This is the basis of the proposed Democratic plan (which I'm sure has its own flaws, but which at the very least tries to look like it's helping those who actually need it). Bush's plan, on the other hand, is classic trickle-down economics (otherwise known as "pretending that giving money to rich people is the best way to help poor people economics"). Or as Krugman explains it:
Instead of a temporary measure, we get a permanent tax cut. The price tag of the overall plan is a whopping $600 billion, yet less than $100 billion will arrive in the first year. The Democratic plan, with an overall price tag of only $136 billion, actually provides more short-run stimulus.I think this is one of the main reasons I tend to stay away from the TV news--I barely can stand to read Bush quotes in print, but when I can actually see and hear him I can't help but start screaming at his smirking simian face, at which point my family or friends generally make me leave the room or change the channel.
And instead of helping the needy, the Bush plan is almost ludicrously tilted toward the very, very well off. If you have stocks in a 401(k), your dividends are already tax-sheltered; this proposal gives big breaks only to people who have lots of stock outside their retirement accounts. More than half the benefits would go to people making more than $200,000 per year, a quarter to people making more than $1 million per year. ("Class warfare!" shouted the claque.)