Their View: The $168B will be from a future generation
With the passage of the economic stimulus bill, Congress proved it can act quickly and in bipartisan fashion when it's clear the public will blame the lawmakers if they don't. Not everything needs to end in stalemate even with the balance of power so narrow.
The package and the bipartisan support largely were the work of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who, if the Democrats get any kind of working majority in Congress next year, likely will prove a formidable legislator like the speakers of yore. She worked with House GOP leader John Boehner, enlisted Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and the White House and finally even got the U.S. Senate to go along.
Senate Democrats tried to load up the bill with another $37 billion in benefits - such as extended jobless pay, heating assistance - and to force the Republicans into politically embarrassing votes against them, but came one vote short of breaking the GOP filibuster. Finally, Pelosi said enough, just pass the House version, and the Senate quickly did in a lopsided vote.
President Bush praised the package as robust, broad-based, timely and effective. We'll see.
Tax rebates are the meat of the bill, $600 for individuals earning up to $75,000 and $1,200 for couples earning up to $150,000, and $300 for those earning too little to pay taxes. But the checks don't start going out until May, by which time the economic picture may have changed, one hopes for the better.
The point of a stimulus package is largely psychological. It shows the government shares the worries of workers spooked by reports of foreclosures and job losses. Ideally, it will sustain consumer morale till the economy works itself out of the slowdown.
A one-time infusion of $168 billion is not going to move a $14 trillion economy. While the package might not do much in the macro sense, for a family with several kids a check for $1,200 plus a $300-per-child bonus is nothing to sneer at.
In the congratulatory mood following passage of the package, only a few Republicans were rude enough to point out all of those $168 billion are being borrowed from a future generation.
- Scripps Howard News Service