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Thursday, December 18, 2008

A Cool Trillion

The front page of the Austin American Statesman sports this, in bold block letters:

A 1,000,000,000,000 plan?

I'll admit that I had a hard time parsing the digits at first. Turns out it's a cool trillion. A trillion dollar plan? Did I miss something? I know the unemployment rate is, what, 6.7%, but the breadline is hardly stretching around the city block. Maybe I suffer from a failure to predict the something economically-wicked that this way comes. Fine. But, a trillion dollars? (I love how it's a nice even number too, like the calculating master minds in the back gave up on more precision: "Hell, just make it a trillion. That oughta do it.") We're gonna break the freakin' printing press...

The only bright spot reading this trillion dollar plan scenario came, for me, when Speaker Pelosi went on record wanting something like 200 billion in tax cuts. We've got bipartisan consensus now (FWIW) that reducing tax burdens help stimulate the economy. Conservatives have been shouting this on a mountain for a very long time.


eneve said...

Damn I thought that we were 10 trillion dollars in debt. Where is all this money for the bailouts coming from? China? I think the appropriate phrase here is "when you are in a hole stop digging".

What keeps China from collecting on their debt? Is it fear of our military prowess? Is it fear of destroying their best customer? Maybe they are not in any hurry because they want to see exactly how deep of a hole we can dig ourselves? Maybe that hole will be so deep it will go straight through the Earth and (like in cartoons) we will pop out in China?

mijopo said...

I don't think that anyone ever denied that well targeted tax cuts can help stimulate the economy, but they'll be more effective in that role if given to people with less money. FWIW, I don't think the tax cut or "cheques to the taxpayer" route is the way to go now. In this environment people won't be inclined to spend that money on stimulating the economy, so as a strategy for economic stimulation it's not likely to be very effective.

In response to the first comment, what stops China from collecting on their debt is the fact that devaluing the USD is most certainly not in their interests. But, I agree that economic stimulus is all well and good, but given our level of indebtedness it's fair to wonder when foreign nations will stop lending to us. All the more reason for outrage with the Bush administration whose profligate spending may have left Obama's hands tied.

Erik said...

I think it's "fear of destroying their best customer". China's export driven, and much of their economy actually depends on our consumption. They don't consume internally much, having an aging population, and so have to sell their goods to other countries to keep the engine running. They need us, too!