Will We Be Stimulated?

Economists sound off on Obama's stimulus package.

Compiled by Nick Gillespie

On February 17, President Barack Obama signed into law a sweeping $787 billion stimulus plan that, he said, would begin “the essential work of keeping the American dream alive in our time.” During the contentious debate over what ended up passing Congress on a nearly party-line vote, Obama declared, “There is no disagreement that we need action by our government, a recovery plan that will help jump-start the economy.”

Suspecting that there was more disagreement out there than the president was letting on, reason asked 10 economists what they expect from the stimulus package. The results were not very optimistic.

Our panelists:

Robert Higgs, a senior fellow in political economy at the Independent Institute; editor of the institute’s quarterly journal, The Independent Review; and author of the classic 1987 study of government growth Crisis and Leviathan.

Jeffrey Rogers Hummel, an associate professor of economics at San Jose State University.

Megan McArdle, who writes about economics, business, and politics at The Atlantic.

Deirdre McCloskey, a reason contributing editor who teaches economics, history, English, and communication at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Allan H. Meltzer, a professor of political economy and public policy at Carnegie Mellon University and a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

Jeffrey A. Miron, a senior lecturer in economics at Harvard.

Michael C. Munger, a professor of economics and chairman of the Department of Political Science at Duke.

William A. Niskanen, a former member of President Ronald Reagan’s Council of Economic Advisers and chairman emeritus of the Cato Institute.

Johan Norberg, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute who is writing a book on the financial crisis.

Mark J. Perry, a professor of economics and finance at the Flint campus of the University of Michigan.


Outside of the obvious pork, what are the biggest problems you see with the stimulus package?

Munger: The creation of new bureaucratic and regulatory structures, restrictions on creation of liquidity. The genius of the American system, for all its flaws, has been that we can mobilize lots of liquidity quickly. Silicon Valley exists because you could sit down, make a pitch, and get $10 million that afternoon.

If we start governing finance like we govern universities, or city councils, we are going to lose that. Having committees, and a bunch of forms to sign off on, and stamps…Hernando de Soto wrote about systems like this. They strangle business, investment, and growth.

Higgs: It entails the addition of a huge increment to the burden of debt the public must bear, directly or indirectly. It redirects resources on a grand scale from uses consumers value to uses politicians value and thereby impoverishes the general public.

McArdle: Even if you accept the theory of the stimulus, the package is not well-structured. A good stimulus package should be designed to move money out the door rapidly, then stop. This program is designed to move money out the door slowly and keep going. Moreover, the vast size of the package is going to add big costs in the not-so-distant future which have barely been discussed.

McCloskey: It’s not targeted, not temporary, not timely. Especially the last. Too slow, too slow, alas.

Miron: The package is focused on increased spending and tax cuts that fail to improve incentives. I am extremely skeptical that the U.S. has $500 billion in additional productive spending, especially if done in a hurry. In most areas government spending is too high, not too low.

Meltzer: No thought is given to the medium and longerterm consequences. We are very likely to have large inflation in the next few years.

Niskanen: Nothing in the package increases the incentive to work, save, invest, or increase productivity. Any spending stimulus should be limited to increasing the demand for housing, in order to increase the value of the mortgage-backed securities that are limiting the ability of the banks to lend.

Norberg: The biggest problem is that it destroys savings by using them on projects that the majority did not think were reasonable a year ago. We take capital that would have been available to companies and poorer countries and use it to create a stimulus that will have its largest impact after the economy has already turned the corner—so that it will contribute to another round of boom and bust.

Hummel: The biggest problem with the stimulus package is the amount by which it increases total government spending, the national debt, and therefore future taxes.

Perry: First, like all fiscal stimulus packages in the past, the current one will not impact the economy at the right time for the intended stimulus effect, due to the inevitable problems of long lags. Much of the intended expansionary fiscal effects won’t happen until next year and even 2011, and it’s likely the economy will have recovered sufficiently by then so that the fiscal stimulus will be unnecessary and might actually be destabilizing.

Second, the fiscal stimulus has to be paid for eventually in the form of higher taxes, which will have a negative economic effect in the future, i.e., the “fiscal child abuse” effect. That is, any positive short-term effects of this stimulus package will be more than offset by future negative effects in the form of reduced future economic growth, decreased investments, and lower incomes.


Is there anything in the stimulus package that you think will work? If so, what?

Miron: Roughly, no.

Niskanen: No. Almost all of the tax cuts are welfare payments channeled through the tax system, not reductions in marginal rates.

Higgs: All of it works. The trouble is what it works for, which is to reward virtually every special interest allied with the Democrats and to guarantee the recipients’ future support for the pirates who are now sending the booty their way. It is eerily similar to the New Dealers’ use of the Works Progress Administration and other big relief programs to buy votes and bulk up their political machine.

Norberg: That depends on what the meaning of “works” is. The tax credit will work. Not as they intended it, though. But it gives people more money, which they will save because they can see that the government is building up a huge deficit that they will be forced to pay for in the future. And then those savings will come in handy.

Hummel: If by “work” you mean alleviate the depression, there is nothing in the stimulus that will do so.

McArdle: Expanding unemployment benefits and food stamps—the “automatic fiscal stabilizers”—are relatively low cost and transparent. They target money to the people whose consumption is contracting the most, and they will naturally shrink as the economy recovers.

Meltzer: Extending unemployment compensation, tax subsidy to homebuyers, some of the permanent tax cuts.

McCloskey: At less than full employment the Keynesian stuff works. So the minority of the quickie expenditures will “put people back to work”—until we return to almost-full employment, which will happen pretty quickly in the recovery. At that point the stimulus will merely crowd out private investment. In the short run people might get more cheerful too, always a good thing. But in two years the recession will be over. And the myth will grow up—rather similar to the ones about FDR and war expenditure—that Obama did it. Essentially, Obama will get credit for the self-adjusting character of the economy. I reckon we should start preparing that other face of Mount Rushmore.

Munger: Borrowing money to raise government spending will work, I suppose. But the cost to future generations is enormous. I am amazed by the hypocrisy of both sides. John McCain calls the stimulus “intergenerational theft.” Well, he’s right, but he came late to this wisdom. The Republicans have been just pouring out new deficit spending since 2002.

And then Obama says he doesn’t want to do tired old ideas and failed economics. But he is doing exactly what the Republicans did: huge deficit-financed spending on largely useless or irrelevant programs designed to reward political friends. The only thing that’s different is the identity of the “friends.”

Some of the spending may increase measured GDP slightly for 2009. But the price is increased inflationary pressures in 2010 and the squandering of the birthright of our children for decades.

Perry: The fiscal stimulus will work only in the sense that it will serve to stimulate the approval ratings of the president and other politicians.


Obama says “doing nothing is not an option.” Do you agree?

Perry: No. The market economy has an underappreciated but amazing ability to correct and reverse economic imbalances and problems on its own, and that economic self-correcting resiliency works best in the absence of government interference.

Higgs: For the economy in general, doing nothing is vastly preferable to doing the stimulus package, but doing nothing is not a political option; indeed, it would be political suicide. Which shows that only by adopting economically destructive policies can politicians survive. Do you see something wrong in this picture? Given the dominant ideology and the political institutions that now exist, economically rational public policy is incompatible with political viability. Having hit bottom, the politicians can only do one thing: keep digging. If Hell is down there, they’ll reach it, sooner or later.

Hummel: The best thing the government could do is to cut spending and taxes. Doing nothing is a second-best option.

McArdle: I would like to see more proof of the statement that doing something is better than doing nothing. The Keynesian arguments upon which Obama’s statements are based work out neatly in the textbooks, but there’s little proof that they actually make things better, in aggregate, in the real world. And the current situation is all the proof you need that there are massive holes in our old textbook models.

McCloskey: I agree with Obama on the money and banking side, not on the real expenditure side. We are in a financial panic, which happens only in a few recessions (1907, 1929). In other words, the TARP [Troubled Asset Relief Program] is way, way more important than the stimulus. That’s based on a logic of second best: The government fouled up the banking system (the most regulated part of the economy), so maybe the government should help clean up the mess. Someone needs to, and I reckon it’s not going to be the Icelandic government. J.P. Morgan, where are you when we need you?

Miron: Doing nothing is always an option, and in my view it would be better than the stimulus. Better yet, we should fix those aspects of current policy that ought to be fixed independent of the crisis. The corporate income tax, which collects up to 35 percent of the difference between revenues and costs of incorporated businesses, has never been sensible policy. Repealing it can both stimulate the economy in the short run and enhance efficiency in the long run.

Munger: Doing nothing is not an option—anymore. Because first President Bush, and now President Obama, have engaged in a completely irresponsible fear campaign. “We must do something, or you should cower in helpless fear, behind locked doors, in darkened rooms!” Presidents should not use this kind of fear as a weapon to pass their pet projects. Roosevelt, for all his flaws, got it right: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Well, not quite right: It turns out we need to fear fear itself, and also President Obama.

The sensible thing to do at this point would be to make an offer, at 40 cents on the dollar, for the “toxic” assets, both the collateralized debt obligations packaged by Freddie and Fannie, and also the credit default swap “insurance” derivatives sold by AIG (and some other firms, but mostly AIG). Since AIG wrote so many “naked” credit default swaps, even for people who don’t own the underlying, or “insured,” asset, they are going to keep hemorrhaging until someone puts a floor on the value of the assets.

So a one-time, take-it-or-leave-it offer. One big reason that credit markets are frozen is the uncertainty created by Treasury indecision and vagueness. Asset owners are holding out for a better price, and they are trying to negotiate through the Senate, not the Treasury. Obama needs to lead here and say: “Take this partial buyout, or hang on to the asset at your peril. There is no better deal coming tomorrow.”

Niskanen: No fiscal stimulus program is a viable option. Use monetary policy to stimulate demand. Consider an optional fiscal stimulus plan consisting only of selective marginal tax rate cuts and a temporary subsidy to increase the demand for housing.

Norberg: Every single crisis in the last 100 years shows that doing nothing would have been preferable to doing bad things. But Obama is right that it is not an option in the current political climate. Now what applies is the politicians’ logic from Yes, Prime Minister: “Something must be done. This is something. Therefore it must be done.”

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  • ed||

    There is no disagreement

    Heh heh. Not when you own the government lock, stock and barrel.

  • JP||

    Nice photo.

  • ||

    The Lusty Lady is just a few blocks down from me on Western Ave. The sign is always good for lulz.

  • ||

    JP,

    A Seattle icon! They change the sign about once a week, and actually maintain a reasonable level of wit.

    Recently spotted: "Spring Beaver."

  • ||

    Epi,

    Take thyself from out my head and take thy form from out my city!

  • JP||

    [checks ABA schedule for next event in Seattle]

  • Warty||

    Dagny, I thought you were some kind of filthy Canuck or something. I'm pretty happy I was wrong.

  • ||

    Episiarch,

    I thought I'd seen that sign in Seattle! I assume you and Lindsay will be going there soon.

  • ||

    Warty,

    I am indeed a filthy Canuck who cleverly managed to escape to the land of the marginally-more-free.

  • ||

    I assume you and Lindsay will be going there soon.

    Well, I presume the girls at The Lusty Lady are attractive, and that's not Lindsay's style, so...no.

  • Some Guy||

    I'm pretty shocked at the number of these guys who want indirect bailouts for irresponsible house "owners" and the banks that lent to them. The problem was that housing was overpriced, that needs to correct itself. Just say no to subsidies!

    (Though I'm sure as hell getting my 8k welfare check anyway, since I am paying for it.)

  • ||

    Episiarch,

    Yes, you may be right about that.

    I'm looking forward to seeing you on the cover of Us! Do you plan to be passed out or blurred out?

  • wingnutx||

    There is no disagreement

    It was considered more palatable than "nobody can stop us".

  • ||

    ProL, this.

    (NSFW)

  • The Great Obami||

    "During a White House press briefing yesterday, ABC's Jake Tapper pointed out that unemployment is right about where an Obama economic adviser predicted it would be without the stimulus.

    Tapper also noted that Obama had announced the 2,000th stimulus project the day before, but it turns out that this is the 2,000th planned project. Tapper asks Gibbs: How many projects have actually been started?

    Gibbs will, uh, look into it: "I can certainly look for a number. I think what we highlighted was the fact that you've got bids that are coming in. You've got the acceptance of a bid. But I can get exact numbers in terms of how much ground has actually been broken."

    Oh, and about that very worthwhile 2,000th project, the Christian Science Monitor reports:


    [I]t seems almost churlish to question whether Kalamazoo County really needs three east- and three west-bound lanes on I-94, especially at a cost of $68 million to federal taxpayers.

    While the population of the western Michigan county has grown 3 percent since 2000, it's not exactly congested. "We've got a lot of things to deal with out here, but traffic isn't one of them," said Monitor correspondent and Kalamazoo resident Yvonne Zipp in an interview.

    Rush hour lasts 10 minutes, maybe 15 on a Friday, she added."

  • ||

    So I stupidly click, anyway. "My eyes! The goggles do nothing!"

    Anyhow, like I said, blurred out. I assume Lindsay will stick with her usual passed out photo. Her constant state of unconsciousness should jibe well with your necrophiliac tendencies.

  • Libertarian Keyboard Warriors||

    You people are stupid. Youu spend all your time jacking off to thoughts of what it would be like if everyone agreed with you rather than the reality that your ideas just don't work and most people recognize that and are thus a little bit scared by your fanatical devotion to those ideas.

  • ||

    Who did Megan McCardle blow to get on the list? She is an MBA and a journalist not an academic economist. I don't know why they wasted collumn inches on her.

  • ||

    I'll have you know that I am always fully dressed when I post here, sir!

  • Warty||

    Don't fret, Dagny. You stopped being a Canadian the second you swam across that river with the bloodhounds in pursuit. No barbed wire or guards' bullets could keep you from your dream of a slightly higher level of sweet, sweet freedom.

  • ||

    LWK, how much did you pay in federal income taxes?

  • ||

    Free Canada!

  • Poofter Juice||

    "You people are stupid. Youu spend all your time jacking off to thoughts of what it would be like if everyone agreed with you rather than the reality that your ideas just don't work and most people recognize that and are thus a little bit scared by your fanatical devotion to those ideas."

    Who's ass liberated this crap?

  • Libertarian Keyboard Warriors||

    SugarFree whatever the hell that means, it's none of your business how much I pay in taxes or whether I'm even employed. And what kind of name is "SugarFree" anyway? You libertarians are so immature.

  • ||

    You stopped being a Canadian the second you swam walked across that river with the bloodhounds in pursuit.

    And the proper term for Dagny is "snowback."

  • ||

    There has been a terrible outbreak of liberal trolls on here lately. Did this site get mentioned on KOS or something?

  • ||

    "Every single crisis in the last 100 years shows that doing nothing would have been preferable to doing bad things."

    That pretty much sums it up.

  • ||

    John,

    Most of them--the lion's share, in my opinion--are regulars playing the troll game.

  • Libertarian Keyboard Warriors||

    @John-They probably used hte same logic that causes them to take the word of BA in economics over the word of a PhD in atmospheric science when global warming is concerned. But you didn't think about that, did you? It would shatter your little libertarian world where everything falls into place for your ideas.

  • ||

    Canuck, maple-sucker, hoser, Eh-hole, 51st Stater, frostback, iceback, moosefucker, snowback, or puckhead are all acceptable terms for Canadians.

  • ||

    Sugar free. Without sugar. Sugarless. Wow, you are dense.

    Can we not have any spoof trolling on this, our most grief-filled day? Is it not enough that you get to ass-rape us, must you also laugh at our anal incontinence?

  • Warty||

    Ooh! Ooh! Do me next, Lefiti!!!

  • The Chad||

    I had no idea so many of the big named commenters here were in my lovely Seattle. *gushes* any chance you'll head up the street to westlake this evening?

  • ||

    LKW is Edweirdo. Duh. Ignore him like you always did.

  • ||

    Pro,

    I am not so sure about that. When the regulars troll it is usually so over the top it is funny. These posts have an humorless, smug, earnestness about them that only liberals have. When a normal person tries to troll the liberal point of view it comes out sounding like something out of the Onion. These posts seem legit.

  • ||

    You left out Shatnerians.

    LKW: Yes, please stop. You posted the same thing under one of your other fake liberal names. Meh.

  • ||

    sweet, sweet freedom

    "Do you have any Sweet Freedom, or any of the Hawaiian blends?"

    Sug,

    Exactly. I'm here to take yer jorbs, refuse to assimilate, and generally ruin the country. Good thing part of the stimulus package limits the ability of employers to hire my ilk.

  • Warty||

    Lefiti is also Edward, right?

  • High Every Body||

    Just heard Ron Paul talking about his Blackwater bailout program. Awsome! Blackwater in the blue water!

    Can't wait for the Reason tak on this.

  • Warty||

    Dagny, I gotta jerb here you can take. Hur hur hur hur hur.

  • ||

    any chance you'll head up the street to westlake this evening?

    Downtown this evening. But hit my email if you want.

  • ||

    Shoot, maybe all lefties are fake? I know joe didn't believe some of the things he said, and it's clearly true of their politicians. Interesting.

  • ||

    "Exactly. I'm here to take yer jorbs, refuse to assimilate, and generally ruin the country. Good thing part of the stimulus package limits the ability of employers to hire my ilk."

    You bastards come down here and demand primetime hockey and curling on TV. Why can't you people watch football like real Americans.

  • ||

    Good thing part of the stimulus package limits the ability of employers to hire my ilk.

    Thank you, OhBamaLord. May the streets run skunky with Moosehead.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Couldn't Gillespie have found any economist with a positive outlook on the stimulus. While I happen to personally agree with the economists he questioned, there are others that favor the Obama approach (apparently all of the ones clustered around the president) and surely they have their reasons. I would have liked to read an opposing viewpoint.

  • ||

    John, I'm with you on the curling. Boring-est. Sport. Evar. Hockey's at least violent.

  • High Every Body||

    Before the Pulaholics start whining, I was not and am not trolling.

    Rep. Paul suggests we hire, with federal money, private security and/or give rewards for the capture of hijackers.

    You know, just like what his supporters were complaining about the US doing on land in Afghanistan and Iraq.

    Good times!

  • ||

    I think we have to be wary talking about the stimulus and doom. I'm still optimistic long term.

    Markets are incredibly resilient and market forces have overcome some amazing obstacles in the past, despite the stupidity of those who would ignore them.

    If market forces manage to get out of this despite the stupidity of the Obama Administration, what are we gonna do with all our gloomy predictions then? Obama will say he was right all along, of course, and he'll say we were all dead wrong too...

    It all gets archived, you know.

  • ||

    I would have liked to read an opposing viewpoint.

    What could possibly be the point of that?

  • ||

    "Shoot, maybe all lefties are fake? I know joe didn't believe some of the things he said, and it's clearly true of their politicians."

    Really? I think Joe beleived it all. Honestly, I am not really sure what most hard core internet liberals believe beyond rooting for the right laundry. For Joe being liberal was like rooting for the Red Sox. It didn't matter who was wearing the uniform as long as it was the right uniform.

  • ||

    Dagny T.

    I like hockey. It is great on HD and in person. Also I am lucky enough to live in Washington where the world's greatest player, Alex Ovechkin plays.

  • High Every Body||

    I think Joe beleived it all. Honestly, I am not really sure what most hard core internet liberals believe beyond rooting for the right laundry. For Joe being liberal was like rooting for the Red Sox. It didn't matter who was wearing the uniform as long as it was the right uniform.

    That's what I was thinking.

  • Warty||

    Shut up HEB, we're talking about Canada here.

    A chick at work curls. She says it's mostly an excuse for drinking, so I can see how it could be awesome to play. It mystifies me that anyone could watch it on TV, though.

  • High Every Body||

    Shut up HEB, we're talking about Canada here.

    Until you start talking about a real country, fuck off.

  • ||

    Ken Shultz,

    But were fucked either way, right? Stimulus works (even by accident or through enough time)... Obama! Yay! Stimulus doesn't work... it should have been bigger, like he wanted... Obama! Yay!

    I'll stick with my gloom.

  • ||

    Ken,

    I think we'd already be well into a recovery without the Bush/Obama/Congress panic mongering. Even with it, I figure we'll be seeing signs of recovery by the end of the year. With, of course, the Democrats talking about how they saved the world.

    It is my firm belief that Nunavut will conquer Canada in 2056.

  • High Every Body||

    SF,

    Stimulus doesn't work... it should have been bigger, like he wanted... Obama!

    You forgot to blame Bush in there.

  • ||

    I watched Olympic curling once. It was fascinating for the aspect of how seriously the players took it. They're using brooms on ice, for fuck's sake. I mean, throwing an inflated pigskin around is...

    Warty, I think the real question is how attractive the curling chick is.

  • they\'re||

    fucking monsters

  • Fascitis Necrotizante||

    with little teats for Canadians to suckle from, I hope

  • Evgeni Malkin||

    Also I am lucky enough to live in Washington where the world's greatest player, Alex Ovechkin plays.

    I think that statement is not so good one.

  • Warty||

    She's pretty cute, Epi. Plus, she's a redhead and she has a tramp stamp. But she's an engineer, so I'm not sure what to make of her.

  • ||

    So when are you going to go curling drinking with her, dude?

  • Warty||

    Oh, I've gone drinking with her many times, but I don't see any particular reason to do it in the cold while pretending to watch a pseudo-sporting pseudo-event.

  • ||

    Couldn't Gillespie have found any economist with a positive outlook on the stimulus.

    Not a credible one, no.

    A chick at work curls. She says it's mostly an excuse for drinking, so I can see how it could be awesome to play. It mystifies me that anyone could watch it on TV, though.

    I 'm pretty sure you can drink just as much watching it on TV.

  • ||

    So what you're saying, Warty, is that you're gay. NTTAWWT.

  • Posthensile||

    "NTTAWWT."

    Mad Max disagrees.

  • Warty||

    No, Epi, I ruined any chances for shenanigans by fooling around with her less-attractive roommate and then never calling her again. That's my...how shall I put it...idiom.

  • ||

    Oh Warty, you never fool around with the less attractive one. You should know that. The not calling again isn't the problem, it's that you insulted her by not pursuing her and going for the easy mark. I might feel sorry for you if you weren't such a chubby chaser.

  • Urkobold™||

    WARTY, YOU FOOL, EITHER DO BOTH AT ONCE OR DO THE HOT ONE FIRST! HAVE YOU LEARNED NOTHING FROM THE URKOBOLD?

  • Warty||

    I know, I know, I fucked up bigtime. In my defense, the fat one kept buying me shots. I learned from that painful lesson, though. Oh, how I've learned. Fuck, I suck. Shit.

  • alan||

    Warty | April 15, 2009, 4:40pm | #

    No, Epi, I ruined any chances for shenanigans by fooling around with her less-attractive roommate and then never calling her again. That's my...how shall I put it...idiom.


    Kind of did that once. Actually, I didn't fool around, I was polite, but the fooling around was all in the attractive girls head. Low self esteem.

    I quickly realized what the solution would be though. I showed up in an gorgeous cowhide leather jacket. Put that image of Gillespie out of your head. That is not what I'm talking about. Think McCloud from the 70's TV show. Smooth trim fur. She was rubbing her tits up against it in no time.

  • Tri-Curious||

    "Smooth trim fur. She was rubbing her tits up against it in no time."

    Did you climax while "Scouring the Baptismal"?

  • Paul Krugman||

    Why didn't they ask me? I would have told them how totally awesome the stimulus is!

    I won a Nobel Prize, I'll have you know.

  • Joe Six Pack||

    Today is the dreaded April 15, but at least in Oregon it's even going to cost you more to drown in your tax sorrows. In their sober unwisdom, the state's pols plan to raise taxes by 1,900% on . . . beer. The tax would catapult to $52.21 from $2.60 a barrel. The money is intended to reduce Oregon's $3 billion budget deficit and, ostensibly, to pay for drug treatment.

    If it passes, Oregon will overnight become the most taxing state for suds, one-third higher than the next highest beer tax state, Alaska. The state may do this even though Oregon is the second largest microbrewery producer in the U.S. The beer industry and its 96 breweries contribute 5,000 jobs and $2.25 billion to state GDP. Kurt Widmer of Widmer Brewing Co. says the tax would "devastate our company and small breweries throughout the state." Adds Joe Henchman, director of state projects at the Tax Foundation, "This microbrewery industry has gravitated to Oregon in part due to low beer taxes."

    For Oregon to enact punitive taxes on its homegrown beer industry makes as much sense as Idaho slapping an excise tax on potatoes or for New York to tax stock trading. Even without the tax increase, taxes are the single most expensive ingredient in a glass of beer, according to the Oregon Brewers Guild.

    But Democrats who run the legislature are desperate for the revenues to help pay for Oregon's 27.9% increase in the general fund budget last year. If they have their way, every time a worker steps up to the bar and orders a cold one, his tab will rise by an extra $1.25 to $1.50 a pint. Half of these taxes will be paid by Oregonians with an income below $45,000 a year. Voters might want to remember this the next time Democrats in Salem profess to be the party of Joe Six Pack.

  • alan||

    "Scouring the Baptismal"?

    I had to look that one up. Google came up with two hits.

    And, 'climax', singular, as in single event?

  • ||

    Episiarch,

    You're kidding me? The Lusty Lady is actually just two blocks south of me. It's on 1st Ave, btw, not Western.

  • ||

    Nope, not kidding. I'm on Western a few blocks past the market. And yeah, rookie mistake on my part with the address. Like I said to Chad, feel free to hit up my email.

  • Paul||

    "the essential work of keeping the American dream alive in our time."



    Right, just like Fannie and Freddie did.

  • Paul||

    Best Lusty Lady sign in memory during 90's APEC conference:

    Welcome Apeckers.

  • Paul||

    Nope, not kidding. I'm on Western a few blocks past the market

    Do you work in that building on the Western Exit off the Viaduct that had the broken glass every two days until they put up the chainlink and a camera?

  • Paul||

    The state may do this even though Oregon is the second largest microbrewery producer in the U.S. The beer industry and its 96 breweries contribute 5,000 jobs and $2.25 billion to state GDP. Kurt Widmer of Widmer Brewing Co. says the tax would "devastate our company and small breweries throughout the state."

    Mr. Widmur doesn't understand how government works. Let me break it down for him:

    Here's some money, we want it. Give it to us.

  • ||

    Paul, I just moved here two weeks ago, so...no.

  • Paul||

    Paul, I just moved here two weeks ago, so...no.

    Dude... welcome to town.

  • MNG||

    "Reason asked 10 economists what they expect from the stimulus package"

    Hmm, I'm just betting this was not a random sample of economists...

  • Paul||

    Hmm, I'm just betting this was not a random sample of economists...

    True. But no more random than the sample of economists that the Obama administration refers to when they say "every economist is for this".

  • ||

    Dude... welcome to town.

    Thanks.

  • Paul||

    Dude... welcome to town.

    Thanks.


    Now leave.

    I keed! I keed!

    I take it you're single and have few commitments (children). Otherwise Beltown (I'm assuming you're in Beltown) would be a tougher (not rougher) place to live.

  • ||

    Paul, you are correct about all of that. I'm also a software developer.

  • Thread Jack||

    From the lips of Al Sharpton:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DUbsLKNCUoA&eurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Epowerlineblog%2Ecom%2F&feature=player_embedded

  • Chad||

    I quit reading a third of the way through. Why does Reason set up such boring echo chambers? There are plenty of very smart people who disagree with these guys.

    It's actually pretty simple. All spending stimulates the economy, because that's exactly what the economy IS - people spending money. There is a trade-off between spending it quickly and spending it intelligently, but we are largely doing a good job of striking that balance.

    In any case, almost everything the government is buying right now is being bought at a very nice discount. We would be idiots for not shopping like crazy. Think about it! First off, many bids for various projects are coming it well below what they did a few years ago, and 10-20% discounts are quite common. This is simply due to more people chasing after the same jobs. On top of that, unlike before the bust, the government is not competing against the private sector for these workers. Every person they employ is one less person collecting unemployment, and one more person paying taxes. This easily amounts to another third or so of the cost of employing them, putting our total discount near half. Two bridges for the price of one sure sounds good to me.

    I can't believe that you guys seriously think tax cuts will solve the problem. I don't know ANYONE who would spend more cash if the government handed it to us. Everyone I know would horde it, which is precisely the problem.

  • engineer||

    "All spending stimulates the economy, because that's exactly what the economy IS - people spending money."
    Funny, I thought the economy was the voluntary exchange of goods and services, and the purpose of money was simply to facilitate those exchanges. But since "all" spending is stimulative, perhaps I should go deeply into debt to finance an unsustainable lifestyle. I'm being patriotic!

  • smartass sob||

    I don't know ANYONE who would spend more cash if the government handed it to us. Everyone I know would horde it, which is precisely the problem.

    I'd spend it - just about as fast as I could exchange it for something more likely to hold or increase its value.

  • MNG||

    I agree with the libertarians here, if the government handed me money as a tax cut I'd spend a good portion of it. And since the government wastes a lot of it on contracts, it might get spent better than the stimulus.

    I'm not against the very idea that a stimulus could ever work. But I have more faith in a more direct measure like tax cuts actually...

  • asdf||

    So, soooo many things wrong with what they said. It wasn't any kind of interview at all, just collected quotes. WTF.

  • asdf||

    "But I have more faith in a more direct measure like tax cuts actually..."

    Yeah, give everyone an extra hundred bucks, that'll make a real difference.

  • ||

    "Yeah, give everyone an extra hundred bucks, that'll make a real difference."

    If it won't make any difference, there's not much reason not to do it, then. $100 to each of 300,000,000 people is still only 30 billion. Let's try 2500 dollars per person. :)

  • LeftyShill||

    "Yeah, give everyone an extra hundred bucks, that'll make a real difference."

    I agree. The only way to get out of a bad depression* is to accumulate WWII levels of government debt.

    *Stop looking at 1921, libertards!

  • ||

    Finally we have a president that's concerned with rebuilding America
    For the past 8 years all the government has been concerned about is the welfare of Iraq: spending billions of US taxpayer dollars rebuilding their roads, schools, electrical grid, training their troop , equipping their police force, mediating fights between warring sunnis and shiites, providing grants for their small businesses, paying insurgents not to fire on US troops
    The needs in our own country were largely ignored as the Bush administration abandoned everything...even Afghanistan ...in order to focus on Iraq
    Now we finally have an AMERICAN president. A president charged with fixing the broken economy left by the Bush administration.
    I'm not sure if stimulating the economy will work. And it's going to cost a lot of money.
    But at least the money will be spent here at home building roads, repairing bridges, setting the foundation for energy independence and solving our broken healthcare system.
    Let's face it.
    If we have to spend money...let's start spending it at home. .

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