'The case for doing nothing'

It's not that the honeymoon is over.

It's that the bride and groom never did agree.

Barack Obama and some in the media have put the arm on Republicans to go along with the massive "stimulus" bill that worked its way through the House on Wednesday.

We give the president great credit for his bipartisan gestures. That will go a long way toward bringing civility and statesmanship back to Washington.

But statesmen can disagree. And this stimulus bill is a hearty buffet of items to disagree with.

What's in it is one of those things to disagree with. Demo-crats have removed funding in the economic stimulus bill for contraception and other birth control services. Clearly, that had nothing to do with stimulating the economy, and everything with nurturing the Democratic base.

But now it comes out that the bill includes $335 million for education programs on sexually transmitted diseases.

What other silliness is in there that we don't know about?

This is one reason why conservatives are opposed to the bill.

Another bigger, and better, reason is that government spending is an exceedingly poor economic stimulus -- and many believe it's a drag on the economy.

In a devil's advocate article on Politico.com headlined "The case for doing nothing," the authors say, "In fact, government stimulus plans have a long history of failure." Some economists, Politico says, argue that "the government should simply allow the economic chips to fall where they may. Dramatic belt-tightening across the board is the only way, they say, to stop the endless cycle of borrowing."

Indeed, Here's what Andrew Schiff, an investment consultant at Euro Pacific Capital, told Politico: "The economy was too big. It was all phantom wealth borrowed from abroad. All this stimulus money is geared toward getting consumers spending and borrowing again. But spending and borrowing were the problem in the first place.

"Our standard of living needs to come down to the point where it can be supported by organic output. It's brutal, but it's called capitalism, and it works. The alternative is called socialism, and it doesn't work."

The Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank in Washington, planned to run full-page ads in The New York Times and Washington Post today with the names of 250 economists who oppose the stimulus bill.

Chris Edwards, director of tax policy studies at Cato, reminded Politico that the stimulus bill also will leave a gargantuan debt to our children and grandchildren.

"Is this morally proper?" asks Edwards, answering his own question: Policymakers are basically saying the heck with future generations.

What this stimulus bill is about, really, is political expedience. Washington elected officials want to be seen as doing something. More importantly, they want their fingerprints all over that something, so they can take credit for whatever projects are in the package.

If this were truly about stimulating the economy, Washington would pass a moratorium on collection of federal taxes, for six months or so. That would get money into Americans' pockets immediately.

The president says not to let politics get in the way. He probably means "partisanship." And on that, we'd agree.

But politics is another matter entirely. Politics is about what people believe. And many of us don't believe that government spending is the cure to what ails us; actually, we think it's another symptom.

Reaching out to the other party is one thing. Expecting someone to abandon his principles is another.

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Fri, 12/09/2016 - 23:31

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