Click here to listen to the broadcast of You Tell Me on KTBB AM & FM, Friday, July 23, 2010.
When you were a kid, did you ever get caught red-handed by your parents and yet try to convince them to ignore their lying eyes? Vice president Joe Biden did that in an exclusive interview on ABC’s This Week with Jake Tapper. In response to questions regarding the effectiveness of the $787 billion stimulus bill, he said this: (Click here to listen.)
“The recovery package – everybody’s talking about it having – it’s over. The truth is, now, we’re spending more now, this summer, than we, – I’m calling this the recovery – the summer of recovery.”
Do you remember the stimulus bill? It went from a blank sheet of paper to over 2,000 sheets of paper at a cost of over a trillion dollars, when you count interest, in just over three weeks in the opening months of 2009. The largest spending bill in U.S. history was crammed through Congress, in what would become a new tradition, with almost no debate and with no member of Congress having read the entire bill. When questioned, Democrats in Congress and the administration said that there wasn’t a second to waste and that any delay was simply intolerable.
A year and a half later, we’re now told by the vice president that only now can we reasonably expect to see any result. So what exactly was the big hurry?
This is the summer of recovery, according to the vice president. Well, the summer’s not over yet, but the back-to-school sales have started. If it’s going to be the summer of recovery, it’s going to have to hurry.
If you go to the website that was set up as a result of the stimulus bill, recovery.gov, you’ll see a graphic telling you that for the first quarter of this year, 682,000 jobs were funded by the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act. Note the language, “funded” rather than “created.” Handing out money to pay workers that were already working isn’t the same as getting unemployed workers back to work. You won’t find any data on the recovery.gov website that tells you anything about the number of jobs created. That’s because they can’t document that any have been.
Nothing that is said or written in defense of the stimulus bill convinces. That’s why over 90 percent of Americans according to some polls believe that it was all a grand waste of time and money.
The reason no one believes that the stimulus did any good is because there was never any chance that it could do more than nibble at the edges. And that’s because the stimulus bill sprang from the fatally flawed premise that massive amounts of government spending leads to job and wealth creation. Just the opposite has happened.
Do you want a true stimulus package? Here goes. The top 400 taxpayers in 2007 paid an average of $45 million each in personal income taxes. Instead of raising their taxes to pay for all of this useless spending, cap their taxes at $5 million and let them keep the other $40 million. That comes to $16 billion in the hands of people that are apparently good with money.
But Paul, they’ll just go out and spend the money on airplanes and fast cars and big houses and fancy boats.
And someone will be getting paid to build airplanes and cars and houses and boats.
It’s an over simple illustration but it asks a profound question. Who can push billions of dollars of wealth through the economy to better effect, the government or the people who created the wealth in the first place?