Saturday, February 14, 2009

When logic fails....

Representative John Boehner, chief Republican in the House, criticized the stimulus bill-which now awaits President Obama's signature-as "spending, spending and more spending." 

This sits neatly with other Republican criticisms of the bill that used visual aids to describe how large a stack of money this represents.

It was, perhaps, unintended comedy. Given that this was by definition a spending bill, and that the trillion-dollar plus shortfall in consumer spending expected by economists over the next year ($2.9 trillion over the next three years) necessitated the government stopgap in order to try and help keep business activity up, the Republican comments were less criticism than descriptions.

Local Republican Representative Todd Akin explained his no vote this way, "“This is spending beyond any we’ve ever seen. The question is: How far can we push ourselves into debt?”

While it is true that we should concern ourselves with how the country will eventually pay the debt, it is hard to see how we would be able to make any dent even in the existing debt (which at the end of the 1990's was on the decline, until the recent administration took office. Much of whose war-related spending remains off the books, so the debt figures are likely to end up far higher) with an economy that has completely crashed. With no business activity, there is no tax revenue and thus no debt payments.

To be fair, this is a lot of money, $787 billion is no small change. Yet in a country that had a $14 trillion dollar economy in 2008, but has just shed 3 million jobs in the last few months and seen businesses cutting back left and right as the recession deepens, it may be a small price to pay to keep us away from the tipping point.

- Murphy

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