Meanwhile, Congress and the Bush administration have reached agreement on a much-hyped stimulus package. But the package, while probably better than nothing, is unlikely to make a noticeable dent in the problem – in part because the insistence of the administration and Senate Republicans on blocking precisely the measures, such as expanded unemployment insurance and food stamps, that are most likely to be effective.
Still, by January the White House will have a new occupant. If the slump is still going on, which is likely, this will offer a chance to consider other, more effective measures.
In particular, now would be a good time to think about the possibility of going beyond tax cuts and rebate checks, and stimulating the economy with some much-needed public investment – say, in repairing the country’s crumbling infrastructure.
The usual rap against public spending as a form of economic stimulus is that it takes too long to get going – that by the time the money starts flowing, the recession is already over. But if this turns out to be a prolonged slump, which seems likely, that won’t be a problem.
But we won’t get any innovative action to help the economy unless the next president has a couple of key attributes.
First, he or she has to be free of the ideological blinders that make the current administration and its allies fiercely oppose the idea that the government can do anything positive aside from cutting taxes.
Second, he or she has to be knowledgeable about and interested in economic policy. Presidents don’t have to be their own chief economists, but they do need to know enough to take the right advice.
Will we have that kind of president? Stay tuned. Will we have that kind of president? Stay tuned. Truthout/posted by Bulatlat