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Conversation on the stimulus bill: Where does it go from here?

By Philip Anselmo

We were glad to see so many folks getting into the discussion yesterday about the national stimulus package that was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives earlier this week. That bill, already proving quite controversial, will go to the Senate next week for round two.

There were some clear divisions among opinion, yet both sides made strong cases. Some of you expressed a general yet cautious support for the stimulus bill on the grounds that it would "right the ship of state," as Russ Stresing put it so eloquently. Others among you decried the attempt to try to "buy our way out of debt," and called for a reining in of spending.

What is the next step in the conversation when both sides of the argument—because, for now at least, this argument is restricted to only two sides (the classic: for and against)—make valid claims? Neither is wrong. Surely, the nation will have to make "strategic investments" at some point to dress our wounds. It's not unlike a fellow who finds himself unemployed and unable to secure a new job. Perhaps an investment in a new suit, a new haircut or even a credited business course at a local community college could give him that edge. On the other hand, any such investments are based on hypothetical situations: 'If I make this happen, then this could happen...' And funds that could have went toward the perennial costs of food and shelter will have been wasted on a hoped for conclusion that may never come to pass.

Furthermore, accusations that this or that side is playing politics are also all true. One of our readers yesterday commented that the president sought the votes of the House Republicans on the stimulus bill so that said Republicans—none of whom voted in favor of the bill—could not use their unified dissent as a political weapon in the future. Well, doesn't that indict both sides? Democrats are threatening to push through the bill to flex their majority muscle. While Republicans are all too content in playing the foil.

President Barack Obama spoke a lot about "change" during the campaign, but if you ask me, this seems to be a whole lot of politics as usual. In the meantime, while we're trying to figure all that out, Howard passed along this article from a site called Good, that pieces together some of the arguments against a stimulus. Very informative. The author sums up his stance, in this way:

And there you have it. In my mind, economics seems to be a mostly made-up “science,” and I am pretty sure nothing the government does will have as much effect as other events (see: Great Depression and World War II, for instance). That said, doing nothing (or just lowering taxes) does not really seem like a viable move for a government, politically if not also economically. So, if we can get another round of the equivalent of WPA posters and CCC National Park trails out of this, maybe that’s all we need until whatever is really going to cure the recession comes along. But, in the meantime, it’s important to look at all sides.

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