Ft. Lauderdale, Fl USA
Irwin Stelzer is a business adviser and director of economic policy studies at the Hudson Institute
If, like John Maynard Keynes, you believe that spending, any spending, will revive a flagging economy, the freshly minted, 1,000-page American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, calling for $504 billion in deficit-financed spending, is for you. Well, not quite. It seems that most of the money will not be spent very soon. About 30% won't hit the economy until 2011, and the balance is likely to be tied up in the procurement processes of the federal and state governments until well into 2010, and beyond. Besides, much of the spending will end up boosting other economies ó subsidies for wind machines will benefit workers in the other countries in which such machines are manufactured, not our very own horny-handed toilers. And much of the spending will not create jobs for the unemployed: laid-off car workers do not have the skills to design the software to manage the "smart grid" that is the apple of the greens' eye.
If you have not jumped onto the new Keynesian spending bandwagon, but believe with Christina Romer, chairman of Barack Obama's Council of Economic Advisers, that tax cuts are more certain than spending to turn the economy round, you should love this bill, with its $286 billion in tax cuts and credits. Well, not quite. True, individuals earning less than $75,000 a year and families earning less than $150,000 will receive credits of $400 and $800, the earned income-tax credit for working families with three or more children is increased, and there is something for pensioners, disabled veterans, families of college students and a host of others.
Reflection suggests, however, the tax-cut contingent is doomed to disappointment. Much of the money will be saved or used to pay down credit-card balances, not bad things, but not very stimulative. Much will be spent in Wal-Mart, earning Congress the applause of Chinese trainer and t-shirt manufacturers. And much will never be claimed: the specific subsidies for college education are simply too small to have much effect on college enrolments.
The explanation for these omissions was simply stated by the president, responding to those who want even more tax cuts and some supply-side stimulus, "We won." Not very satisfying intellectually, but who needs intellectually satisfying arguments when his party controls the White House, the Senate, and the House of Representatives? http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/columnists/article5734337.ece