Friday, January 18, 2008
What do the Republicans and Democrats who run the country really think about us, the people they work for? Follow the new debate, started today by President Bush's economic stimulus proposal, and all will be revealed. Bush proposes cutting taxes by up to $150 billion in an effort to shore up the U.S. economy, which many economists believe is sinking into a recession — consecutive quarters of declining economic output. The U.S. economy shrank in December. But like the tax cut of 2001, in which taxpayers received rebate checks from the federal government, Bush's plan returns most of the money to the richest taxpayers. Bush also wants temporary tax breaks to encourage business expansion. Plans proposed by Democrats would include increased spending on unemployment benefits and food stamps, in part because lower-income people are considerably more likely to spend the money faster. But years of mismanagement of the economy are bound to diminish the impact of any tax cuts. The administration has used the standard Republican tactic of covering up economic problems by lowering the value of the dollar against foreign currencies — part of the reason the price of oil is near $100 a barrel. That's why the president was forced last week to beg Saudi Arabia — unsuccessfully — to increase oil production. Somehow, the U.S. public consistently fails to make the connection between a Republican president and the counterproductive Republican economic strategies. The economy probably is in much worse shape than the government is letting on. The fact that the stock market went down today after Bush's plan was announced attests to that. But the 2008 election is approaching fast.