A psychological boost is better than a kick in the head.
Freezing current tax rates for two years, as Congress and the president just did, can't be claimed to directly stimulate the economy. Except for a small payroll tax cut, they largely extended the status quo.
But maybe, even coming belatedly, it will stimulate a little confidence -- and the magic of the private sector can take over from there.
Thank goodness, too, that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., retreated from horrifying plans to pass a larded-up $1 trillion spending bill that included more than 6,600 wasteful pet projects -- which would've been a landmark slap in the face to voters who are nearly ready to revolt over Washington spending.
Reid's "Son of Porkulus," a bookmark to Congress' failed porked-up $1 trillion "stimulus" of 2009, would have been a fitting memorial to a Congress many believe is the worst in living memory, if ever. But thank the heavens Mr. Reid fell short of the votes to build it on our backs.
We can thank, in large part, South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint -- a stalwart representative of the people who had the courage to endure the wrath of his colleagues to promise that he would require the entire spending bill be read aloud, all 1,900-plus pages. It would've taken days.
DeMint's Mr. Smith Goes to Washington moment likely saved taxpayers billions -- and no doubt staved off a steep deterioration of the country's financial condition. Who knows what might have happened to the fragile economy if Harry Reid had gotten his way.
Sadly enough, it's clear Mr. Reid and his free-spending cronies -- even after the Nov. 2 shellacking -- didn't get religion so much as just show up in the back of church: They only gave up on the spending bill out of a lack of votes, not any epiphany about the country's condition.
What does it take with these people?
Economic reports this week provided a glimmer of hope on the horizon, with favorable snapshots of layoffs, manufacturing and consumer spending. Congress may have helped that optimism along, despite itself, with the extension of the current tax rates and the extinguishing of Reid's spending bill.
The result, hopefully, will be an improving psychological outlook -- as well as a politics-free zone this Christmas.
A word of caution, though: It seems many of our leaders in Washington are still oblivious to the state of both the country's finances and public opinion -- and that they agreed to the lower tax rates and to trash can the spending behemoth only because of unrelenting pressure from voters and conservatives in Congress and the media. We'll need to keep the pressure on, even as the wave of Tea Party-era leaders arrives next month.
Reid & Co. still don't get it.
We need to keep sending it.