Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Stimulus is not a bailout

If I hear one more person say, “I’m against the stimulus because they screwed up last fall’s bailout” I am going to scream. A lot and very loudly – right in that stupid person’s ear. The two are not the same thing – they are not even close. The bailout was just that – a handout (welfare if you will) to the banks so that (in theory) markets would still function. It was rushed through and now we are stuck with no oversight and little transparency as to how the banks are using the money. Questionable policy that was dismally executed.

But the plan under consideration now is not another bailout. It is a completely different beast that President Obama is desperately trying to get through Congress. And there are plenty of reasons not to like it. Will it create anything close to the 4 million jobs lost over the past couple of years? And will those be good-paying jobs that will last longer than the six months it takes to complete a construction project? No way to say for sure. Too expensive, too many tax cuts, not enough tax cuts, too much spending, earmarks that belong in annual appropriations bills not a stimulus package…the list of criticisms is long. But opposing the stimulus package because of what happened with last fall’s bailout is simple ignorance.

Stimulus comes with strings (in theory). The money handed out to states and municipalities would get projects moving quickly, putting people to work and pushing money around. This is money that would eventually land in the hands of actual working people. It would create jobs and provide services. It would mean fewer layoffs in the government sector and more jobs in the private sector as companies bid on service and construction projects. There is no bailout. Consider that Nevada will have difficulty accessing some of the money available in the stimulus package because existing state services don’t meet requirements for a bigger federal check.

Will the Stimulus plan stop the economic freefall of the past few months? No one knows. More probably needs to be done to deal with the foreclosure epidemic. Still, economists warn of the dire consequences of doing nothing. And though a few disagree, most economists are saying the government must do something. Doing nothing would be disastrous.

This is also what we elected Barack Obama to do. We elected him to implement a vision. And we need to trust that he will not let us down. It’s arguable that he has more to lose than just about anyone if this effort fails. Hard working Americans can climb out of whatever hole is dug and start anew. We’ve done it before. Not so much for President Obama – if this thing fails, so does his presidency.

So go ahead and oppose the Stimulus plan. Just be clear about what it is that you’re against.