Economics

How Stimulus Spending Puts the "Con" Back in Congress

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Denver Post columnist and Reason mag contributor David Harsanyi on the $825 billion "stimulus" bill:

Remember when Democrats complained that Bush tax cuts coupled with out-of-control spending would saddle our children with crushing debt? They were right. It's just impolite. Barack Obama will leave it for our great-grandchildren, too. (We're never going to have to look those suckers in the eye, anyway.)

But please, let's stop calling this a "stimulus" plan. How does another $650 million for digital TV coupons spur economic growth? (Why don't we just buy a million new HD televisions and hand them out?) What does $600 million for government vehicles do other than allow bureaucrats to do nothing more efficiently?

Hey, are you under investigation for widespread voter fraud? No problem. Like ACORN, you too might be in for billions in "stimulus" aid. And a proud nation needs more than just $200 million to repair the National Mall; it also needs $21 million in sod.

As for the Republicans in Congress who are champing at the bit to show they're relevant by going along and getting along? "Just throw in a tax cut. They're easier than Holly Golightly."

Harsanyi recalls a useful episode not so far in the past:

In the early '80s, we dug out of a deep recession by easing the tax burden on businesses and the American people to save real jobs rather than create ones we didn't need.

Whole col here.

Harsanyi's Reason work here.

Harsanyi on NBC Nightly News talking about his book Nanny State here.

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  1. The stimulus plan is necessary, especially if given to the right people…like me for instance.
    Sincerely yours, Hollis Green

  2. Fiscal stimulus works. The only problem is it’s corrupting, wasteful, unintended consequences. Other than that, it’s great.

  3. well.. the mall does need new sod…

  4. Give it all to me, and I promise a new dawn for America. Because I’m going to build a new sun with the money.

  5. Wadda ya talk’n Nick. Holes don’t get dug by themselves you know. And once their dug who’s gonna volunteer to fill em in? You? I didn’t think so.

  6. Whatever else this bill is, it isn’t stimulus.

    Keynesian stimulus has to happen fast, fast fast. The spending in this bill is stretched out over years and years.

    If you really want stimulus, look to the tax code. Even a temporary one-year tax cut would hit the economy immediately, and all within a year. If you really believe in Keynesian stimulus, that’s the way to go.

  7. How about a massive tax cut for people who spend a lot of money?

  8. No doubt about it, Congress is the biggest pile of crooks, thieves and liars anywhere on the planet!

    RT
    http://www.total-privacy.us.tc

  9. Even a temporary one-year tax cut would hit the economy immediately, and all within a year. If you really believe in Keynesian stimulus, that’s the way to go.

    That won’t work, either. People spend based on their future expected earnings. If they get a tax cut that they know is dead in 12 months, it’s not going to get spent.

    There is no solution. We’re just going to have spend less, save more, and suck it up. You can only pay off one credit card with another for so long.

  10. “You can only pay off one credit card with another for so long.”

    Oh…fuck me.

  11. There is no solution. We’re just going to have spend less, save more, and suck it up. You can only pay off one credit card with another for so long.

    That actually would be a solution. But that’s not what we’re going to do. We’re going to print more money and raise our limit on the credit card.

    We’re in a deep hole. We dug ourselves in with a shovel. But now we’re calling in the earth moving equipment. We’ve gotten serious about digging our way out of this hole.

  12. “There is no solution. We’re just going to have spend less, save more, and suck it up.”

    What?

    We can’t have that.

    This is the NEW era of responsibilty.

    Not an era of actual responsibility of sucking it up and living with the consequences of past excesses.

  13. I haven’t seen anyone outside of the cable-news punditry and congress that thinks this stimulus is a good idea.

    Is this the point during which the government declares it is overtly running things without the will of the people? Or rather, are they planning to annouce the formation of the equivalent of the Galactic Empire?

    I wish they’d just get it over with already, this masquerade is getting tiresome…

  14. “Barack Obama will leave it for our great-grandchildren, too.”

    What an idiot. This debt is NOT gonna be left to our great grandchildren. It’s gonna lead to a dollar crash and massive inflation for… us! If the kids are really lucky, they will arrive into the nation a few decades after it’s been forced to forego worldwide hegemony thanks to disastrous economics, and is settling into a quiet role it was supposed to have: that sweet lil’ country across the ocean that keeps to itself and just happens to be the free-est, coolest, best damn place to live in.

  15. You guys don’t get it. Just last night, somebody was telling me tax rates are too low. In fact, he was pissing and moaning about how Kennedy lowered the top rate from 90% to 70%. And, whatever you do, don’t let him get going about that fiend Reagan.

    Because why should anybody be allowed to take their own money and put it in the stock market, when the government could be giving it to Archer Daniels Midland, and the American Association of Concrete Contractors?

  16. Hey, are you under investigation for widespread voter fraud? No problem. Like ACORN, you too might be in for billions in “stimulus” aid.

    THAT’S the Chicago way!

  17. George Harrison said it (or, more appropriately, sang it) best:

    “Taxman” Lyrics*

    Let me tell you how it will be;
    There’s one for you, nineteen for me.
    ‘Cause I’m the taxman,
    Yeah, I’m the taxman.

    Should five per cent appear too small,
    Be thankful I don’t take it all.
    ‘Cause I’m the taxman,
    Yeah, I’m the taxman.

    (if you drive a car, car) – I’ll tax the street;
    (if you try to sit, sit) – I’ll tax your seat;
    (if you get too cold, cold) – I’ll tax the heat;
    (if you take a walk, walk) – I’ll tax your feet.

    Taxman!

    ‘Cause I’m the taxman,
    Yeah, I’m the taxman.

    Don’t ask me what I want it for, (ah-ah, Mr. Shulman);
    If you don’t want to pay some more. (ah-ah, Mr. Obama).
    ‘Cause I’m the taxman,
    Yeah, I’m the taxman.

    Now my advice for those who die (taxman);
    Declare the pennies on your eyes (taxman).
    ‘Cause I’m the taxman,
    Yeah, I’m the taxman.

    And you’re working for no one but me.

    Taxman!

    * With a couple of name changes to make it an all-American song.

  18. That actually would be a solution. But that’s not what we’re going to do. We’re going to print more money and raise our limit on the credit card.

    Remember that debate where Fred Thompson rolled his eyes at Ron Paul’s suggestion that the Fed was going to start firing up the printing presses in response to the economic crisis? Those were heady times, weren’t they.

  19. F*** me sideways, I agree with the privacy bot.

  20. I have a modest little proposal: why not give Chapman and Ron White (or whoever that bozo is) their walking papers, and run Harsanyi every week.

    And you can stick Peanuts in the Friday Funnies slot. At least Schulz had a teensy bit of insight.

  21. “How does another $650 million for digital TV coupons spur economic growth? (Why don’t we just buy a million new HD televisions and hand them out?)”

    How much do those things cost? How many households are still using rabbit ears? How many of them have not already converted?

  22. I like how Harsanyi manages to knit every cranky talk-radio meme into one big argument, from ACORN to Reagan nostalgia. Do you think he does it himself, or does he have a Java script that helps?

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