COLUMBIA, South Carolina (CNN) 末 When a debate as important 末 both in terms of policy and politics 末 as the one currently rolling around our nation regarding the president's "stimulus" plan takes place, emotion often takes precedence over fact.
Words are ripped out of context, motives ascribed where none may exist, political strategies implemented with limited regard for actuality. This, then, is the playing field we step onto 末 as it has long been.
But, as those in South Carolina have often heard me say, it is important to disagree without being disagreeable. So let's take a clear-eyed look at Paul Begala's recent defense of the president, which happened to refer to me by name 末 because what I and others have suggested is far from "doing nothing."
First, dispense with the notion that there are simply two options here: Support the stimulus package or do nothing. The Washington Post debunked that idea quite convincingly earlier this week.
In truth, there are a variety of options outside a spending bill of unprecedented scope available in this time of considerable economic distress, including, but not limited to, cutting the payroll tax, opening foreign markets through an expansion of our trade agreements, and reducing our corporate tax, which is among the highest worldwide.
Second, we should all be skeptical of any argument centered on the idea of doing something for doing something's sake. We can't focus on the why and simply ignore the what. And what does this particular rendition of "doing something" actually do?
According to the Congressional Budget Office, the effects of the bill on job growth as early as 2011 would be miniscule. More distressingly, CBO's long-term projections estimate that due to "crowding out of private investment," the package will result in a reduction of our GDP as early as 2019.
As for the jobs created in the short-term, what's the cost? The Heritage Foundation crunched the president's own numbers and came up with this startling figure: for every single job the bill creates, American taxpayers will spend $223,000.
Examining the bill's contents makes clear just how foolhardy that is. What stimulant effect will we get from the $180 million of spending on "diplomatic and consular services?" Should taxpayers really be doling out $300 million for what one newspaper described as "streamlined golf carts?"
And, even though it didn't make it into the final version of the bill, why would anyone even consider letting the very investment bankers whose companies just pulled down a few hundred million dollars in TARP funds to be in line to receive a $15,000 government credit for buying a new Hamptons beach house?
Finally, history shows us quite clearly that a government cannot spend its way out of an economic downturn. It didn't work in Japan in the 1990s, when the 10 stimulus packages implemented over an eight year period failed to prevent the "lost decade." And the New Deal, which the president's supporters are so quick to point to?
Here are the thoughts of Henry Morgenthau, FDR's Treasury Secretary: "We have tried spending money. We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work. ... I say after eight years of this administration we have just as much unemployment as when we started ... And an enormous debt to boot!"
The president's stimulus represents the largest and most invasive economic action in our government's history. For a relatively small number of short-term jobs, this administration and this Congress are poised to mortgage the economic future of my four boys and the millions of young Americans just like them. To me, that's simply not a morally acceptable outcome.
02-13-2009 10:25 AM
It is way too late, but we really should do anything to keep the pressure on.
On a similar, possibly less focused note (file under why have we not seen this expressed sooner, I guess because we are talking about our parents.)
This group is all about letting the Baby Boomers know that there will be consequences to their two decades of massive overspending and borrowing from future generations. This is a Generational Contract for the Future. You're going to borrow from us to pay your bills? Then know there will be consequences.
Let me explain...
You know what really irks me about this whole financial crisis? It's basically generational theft. The Baby Boomers literally spent the last 25 years... spending their way into oblivion, running up their credit cards, massively increasing the national debt, sucking all the equity out of their houses and driving the national savings rate into the negative. Now its come time to pay the piper, but instead of the Boomers having to face the consequences, they are massively ballooning the national debt.
This is essentially a wealth transfer from future generations to the current generation. They are borrowing from the future to pay for the mistakes of the present.
Generation X'ers, Millenials, are we really going to sit back and let this happen? They're stealing from our future paychecks to pay their current bills.
How long have you been hearing that social security is going insolvent, yet nothing has been done? How many times have we been told that health care costs are exploding, and that entitlements are unsustainable? How many times did economists warn that Americans had too much debt?
How many warning signs were out there, and ignored by the 'adults' in charge?
This is generational warfare of the worst kind. Who steals from their kid's college fund to finance their BMW and a trip to Tahiti?
The Boomers, that's who.
Let this be a warning Boomers, you wont be in charge forever. The first of you started retiring last year, and the last wont retire until 2030. Know who will be taking over power during your golden years?
We will. The people you borrowed all that money from in order to pay off the excesses of the last 25 years.
And guess what? We wont forget the IOU. And when it comes due, social security, medicare and all your other entitlements will be on the table.
And it will be the mother of all paybacks.
Better clean up your mess now while you still have disposable income. Otherwise, you might want to get used to communal retirement housing, Saltine and multi-vitamin sandwiches and do-it-yourself heart bypass kits, because that's all we'll be able to afford as we pay off your old bills.
Or maybe grandma and grandpa can just go back to work at 7-Eleven and McDonalds. In a lovely intergenerational twist, their grandchildren can supervise them. But watch the cash register. Everyone knows they can't be trusted around money.
Get to work Boomers. Otherwise we'll make sure you never get to stop.