Many Americans are skeptical of the economic stimulus bill as passed by Congress, and with good reason. We may debate the merits of the Keynesian principles of government stimulated economy versus supply side economics. Both the House and Senate versions of the stimulus package, however, did not embody the true intent of either theory. They are, rather, a dreadful example of social engineering and special interest spending that most Americans denounce. Despite calls to implement the best ideas from all to stimulate the economy and reach a true bipartisan compromise, this bill has been rammed through the legislative process without taking stock of legitimate concerns and proven stimulus techniques or the implications of massive debt on future generations.
Keynesian theory is an economic policy that believes you can stimulate the private sector through tax policies and funding of public projects. As the government spends money on infrastructure it creates jobs and makes America more competitive on the world market through the infrastructure improvements. Even though the stimulus package was presented as primarily Keynesian, both versions stimulus bill of 2009 spend more money on special interest projects and the type of wasteful, uncontrolled spending that is often blamed for our current economic troubles.
Supply side economists believe that the best way to get Americans back to work is to create tax structures that encourage businesses and people to invest capital and create jobs. The United States has the highest corporate tax rate of industrialized nations. I favor a reduction of corporate tax rates from 35 percent to 25 percent, which would directly inject capital into an economy that is sputtering. I also believe there are legitimate infrastructure, scientific and transportation projects that are practical only on a governmental scale that would also make us more efficient and effective.
President Barack Obama made three main promises about taxes, the economy and spending during his campaign. First, he promised that 95 percent of Americans would receive a tax cut. Second, businesses that created or transferred jobs from overseas would receive a $3,000 tax credit, per job. Third, he pledged to go line-by-line through the budget and remove wasteful spending and eliminate special interest pork. It is disappointing that two of three promises have not represented in the economic stimulus package. Although there are some tax cuts, they are nowhere near the extent to which he promised and unlikely to stimulate investment in businesses or create jobs. The Congressional Budget Office's (CBO's) assessment of the current stimulus bills states that the spending will probably result in an economic drag on the economy due to increased debt and insufficient stimulating activities. Further, the CBO analysis concludes there is not enough spending in 2009 to give the economy a jump start and, overall, most expenditures are not stimulating in nature.
I realize that through the art of legislation and politics, many campaign promises are often too difficult or impractical to implement. I believe that the President should have shown true leadership by putting a stop to the wasteful spending and taking the time for serious thought and negotiation. President Obama should have led this process, rather than leave the crafting of this critical legislation to the sausage mill process and divisive House and Senate leaders.
True bipartisanship in Washington would combine the best of both of Keynesian and supply side economic principles while being as fiscally responsible as possible. This is the type of change that Americans want and need. Americans' real hope was for our politicians to resist the temptation to load special interest spending in the stimulus and avoid taking out a second mortgage on our children's future.
Scott Starin works in industry, ran for Congress in 2008, and chairs the Boulder County Republicans. This is from his Sunday column in the Boulder Camera.