President Obama, if his recent comments are to be credited, would have us believe that any government spending at all can be called "stimulus" providing only that it is sufficiently large.
And so when I hear people just saying we don't need to do anything; this is a spending bill, not a stimulus bill, without acknowledging that by definition part of any stimulus package would include spending -- that's the point -- then what I get a sense of is that there is some ideological blockage there that needs to be cleared up.
Spending is most certainly not, as Obama says, "the point." Random spending, culled from decades of frustrated liberal wish-lists, won't accomplish anything but gargantuan debt. I don't "hear people just saying we don't need to do anything," I hear people saying that we need to do something, but doing nothing would be preferable to doing what the Democrats have planned.
Let's say that every week you are required to give me ten dollars. I use it to buy some ice cream cones for my kids and go see a movie with my wife. Then—because I desperately want to stimulate our economy—I want to give you one dollar back. Well, the cones and the movie cost fifteen dollars so I'm going to have to borrow the dollar (not to mention the five dollars extra that my irresponsible spending cost), and I don't have any way of earning money for myself so I use your credit to get it. Now I give you the dollar. Are you ahead or behind? Don't forget that you have to repay the loan I took out for you.
That, in a nutshell, is the Democrat plan. Except that they aren't going to give you the dollar. They're going to give the dollar to someone else, who probably doesn't pay taxes to begin with, or to a pet project involving condoms in some way, and they are going to hope (there's that word again) that some of it trickles down to you. Or tinkles down to you.
Government cannot spend us out of a recession. Any money the Government gets, it gets from us. It then takes out enough to finance itself and all of the extra-Constitutional projects enacted by the majority party of the moment, and takes out loans to cover shortfalls. So when it finally gets around to giving us back our money, do you think it's a net gain? Not on your life.
Now let's say that instead of having to give me ten dollars every week—because I desperately want to stimulate our economy—that for the next year you only have to give me five dollars a week. I still take my wife to the movies, but I don't buy ice cream cones for the kids and I don't have to take out a loan with your credit. Are you money ahead? Without a doubt. And that is how tax cuts and responsible spending stimulate the economy.
Yes, we are going to have to do some spending (and just for the record tax cuts are not spending), but it should be focused on actually creating revenue and jobs, not on every Democrat's Christmas list. The yellow rain of tinkle-down economics won't get us anything but a huge bill that our children are going to have to pay.
Update: Ed Morrissey points out a plan to spend $800 million on golf carts.
Update: Ed Whelan at The Corner.
Many of the president's fiercest congressional critics support a stimulus package of similar size but think it should be built around a much higher proportion of tax cuts than new spending. Others have called for a plan that is half the size of the one headed for a House-Senate conference — still massive by historical standards.
Even those who think that no new government spending is necessary do not advocate a stand-still approach. A newspaper ad by the Cato Institute, signed by 250 economists, argued for removing "impediments to work, saving, investment and production" and said that "lower tax rates and a reduction in the burden of government are the best ways of using fiscal policy to boost growth."
"I don't know of a single Republican in the House or Senate who thinks Congress should do nothing in the wake of this recession," Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) said Tuesday. "We want to do something that will work."
Too bad the article is buried on page A6, bears the unhelpful title “Obama Paints America’s Choice as His Plan or Nothing”, and unconvincingly contends that President Bush set up similarly empty straw-man arguments.
Update: Patterico has a photo of Hillary in one of the NEV golf carts. Looking silly.