Congress, and state legislatures around the country, are working furiously to pass some sort of economic stimulus bills designed to kick the United States out of recession.
As usual, supporters of various tax credits, industry bailouts, and old-fashioned pork-barrel spending projects are trotting out their proposals, touting them for their ability to create or save jobs.
The stakes, in this case, are terribly high. Pundits have been whispering that this isn't a typical cyclical recession. They point to the dangers of deflation, a long-term — perhaps a decade — bearish stock market, and skittish consumer confidence that could plunge again if terrorists strike in America. Legislators feel like they have to do something. So they give us things like the Economic Security and Recovery Act of 2001, a House bill that would reduce government receipts by $69.7 billion and increase spending by $31.5 billion in 2002.
If you can forget for a minute that those are our dollars, one of the more comical elements of that exercise is how so many lawmakers are quick to embrace the Keynesian notions of government spending stimulating the economy. How many times must this strategy fail before we stop accepting this nonsense?