Friday, January 30, 2009

Putting your $2,730 to work

You’ve probably done the math.

$819,000,000,000 / 300,000,000


The nominator (the first number) is the amount of the Obama-backed stimulus package that passed the House with nary a Republican "yes" vote. A version of it is now before the Senate.

The second number, the denominator, is roughly the nation’s population.

And, unless I’ve lost a zero along the way, the result of the division is $2,730 for each man, woman and child in the country.

I don’t know about you, but it is an exceedingly small fraction of what our family lost in the stock market last year. For many more, it is a very small part of their personal debt — consumer debt and other debt.

Sure, the government could give that $2,730 back to us in tax cuts. That's what the Republicans want.

What would you do with it? I’d tuck it away in a very, very safe place. Like between the mattress and the box springs.

I could invest it in the stock market along with the money of others. There the Wall Street financial managers would rake off millions in bonuses even as they reduce our money to junk status.

Some might use part of the Republican tax cut to buy Chinese-made flat screen TVs or Japanese-made computer consoles. Some might pay down a portion of credit card debt, or part of school loans. Or the car insurance or the health insurance or the back rent. I doubt many would give it to charity, but we can hope.

No, the $2,730 tax cut would do little to stimulate the economy or to create jobs, at least not in this country. But it would continue to grow the government’s debt. (What was it that Republicans once stood for? Fiscal restraint?)

We need to spend the $819 billion so that it multiplies in our economy. It’s called social investment. Think education, health, research, bridges, railroads, clean energy, peaceful diplomacy.

Not bad for $2,730.

It's whole lot better than tucking a tax cut under the mattress or buying a flat screen TV.

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