The economic stimulus package put together by the Obama Administration is attacked daily by the right as being failure. They claim it hasn’t really helped with jobs as unemployment remains high. Ranters like Beck and Limbaugh and Hannity scream about the stimulus being a waste of money.
They don’t think any money should be spent on economic “bottom up” stimulus, yet have no problem at all demanding more troops be sent to Afghanistan immediately. I wonder if they would support tax increases to fund additional troop levels. Gotta pay as we go, right guys? No of they wouldn’t favor that – any amount of spending at all is OK if it’s going to the Pentagon or military contractors.
What about spending some money to do things that actually do give real economic stimulus? If you build bombs, you employ some people, sure. But a bomb dropped does nothing but blow up. A bridge built or a high speed train or an alternative power source will give and give. That can be looked on not just as spending, but as an investment in the future too.As to the question “is the stimulus working?” Here are a couple of concrete examples.
I have a friend with two dump trucks. Back in midsummer, when he should have been going gonzo, both trucks were idle. He was close to losing at least one of them. Now both trucks are working on economic stimulus package funded road projects.
On an even closer level, the stimulus package contained provisions for Oregon to hire additional state employees to work at the Department of Human Services. My wife applied for and got one of those jobs. It’s a permanent position, too. Once stimulus money is gone, the positions will be worked into the state system. Some jobs will go, but through attrition.
My wife is returning to the work force after spending time at home with our son, who is now 2 and a half. We came to the decision in late summer and she started working October 12th. Perfect timing, it turns out, as I was laid off two days ago. I have been in the cable utility business and it has been a roller coaster ride, going mostly down.
What does the stimulus mean to us? Well, we can keep our house, for starters. And for transportation, my wife is driving the car we got under the “Cash for Clunkers” plan. More evidence of economic stimulus working on the personal level.
And in another side event that would thrill Glenn Beck, my mostly non-political wife now is a member of SEIU. And yes, we did our health care enrollment online, and we now have a “Cadillac” health plan. And yes, just in case you’re asking, I’m still in favor of universal health care for all.
What should we do with the economic stimulus plan? Increase it, but smartly. Make investments in infrastructure. Big projects that will yield dividends for decades. That’s not robbing from our children, that’s investing in their future.
And pay for it by rolling back not just the Bush tax cuts, but also the Reagan giveaways to the rich. Conservatives like to rant about so-called wealth redistribution. Truth is, it’s been going on massively for years, from the bottom up. The recent bank crisis is a direct result of rules set about to encourage massive wealth transfer to the already rich. The money was taken from the bottom up, and that’s where the economic stimulus needs to go to remedy the problem.