An unspoken tenet of good sense suggests that one not butcher the cow that yields the milk. Several meals can never compensate for many years of sustained cheese and dairy products. Such is a common-sensical maxim with which we can all agree, or at least the calculating lot of us. Yet, many of our elected Congressional leaders seem unable to abide by such basic rationality.
In an outstandingly obtuse, interest-driven and deplorable move, the House of Representatives defied such logic last Thursday, Oct. 25, and passed HR 3090, the alleged economic stimulus package. The bill, which included a 25 billion dollar immediate corporate tax repeal, passed by a lamentably slim 214 to 216 margin and split along democrat-republican lines almost precisely.
According to articles in the Washington Post, the House tax cut could cost upwards of $210 billion over the next few years. The bill calls for permanent removal of a minimum corporate tax established in 1986, reduces capital gains, and is generally backboned in Reaganist/Conservative economic reasoning.
Such logic asserts that in an economic recession, and in general, cutting taxes on corporations and the pinnacle 1-5 percent of the wealthiest promotes investment that creates jobs. According to the Post, majority leader Dick Armey declared, “Investment is the driving engine in the economy … This bill provides a reward for the risk-takers who create jobs in America.”
Such reasoning is ultimately very harmful, and dissolves, like so many Reaganist tenets, under careful scrutiny. Were our current economic recession caused by a lack of investment (supply side) and speculation, Mr. Armey might appear sensible.
Our current recession, however, is largely a problem of deficient demand. When there is an abundance of layoffs, handing out a few billion dollars to employers is not going to cause them to reinstate the workers who’ve lost their jobs. This is only going to happen when doing so becomes profitable and rational (e.g. when demand begins to increase again and those positions are recreated by necessity). When people stop flying planes, for instance, giving tax cuts to Boeing executives simply doesn’t address the problem. Many opponents were quick to point this out.
House democrats offered a mirror bill that placed greater emphasis on a more popular tax rebate system and set aside more funds for compensation and programs to address the increasing number of national layoffs, according to the Post. All Oregon Democratic representatives Earl Blumenauer, David Wu, Peter DeFazio and Darlene Hooley voted against the bill, while the sole Republican, Greg Walden, voted in favor.
In addition, the economic “stimulus” was railroaded through House proceedings, infuriating many Democrats, moderate and otherwise. Even the Bush administration seemed to have reservations about the bill. The Washington Post quoted treasury Security Paul O’Neill referring to portions of it as “show business” aimed at appeasing interests.
In the Post’s calculations, the bill would grant Ford Motor Co. over $2 billion, IBM almost $1.5 billion, and GM slightly less than $1 billion. Like GM, many of the corporations included in the cuts have their principal operations abroad, making for a difficult argument that such cuts benefit Americans suffering from downturn.
Further, such Reaganist/Conservative reasoning begins to appear even more rabid and misplaced given the current war in Afghanistan and the soaring costs of national security. By repealing the corporate minimum tax (ATM), the House has cast us deeper into an economic bind. They have effectively begun to butcher the stock that we shall need to see us through the present calamities in economy and world affairs.
It doesn’t take a modern-day Einstein to point a shameful finger at republicans in the House of Representatives. When the billions of dollars that this bill has lavishly handed out to the uppermost economic brackets returns to haunt us in the future, the same people who voted for it will probably blame the problems on government spending and inefficiency. It is my hope that the Senate, which is currently considering a parallel bill, will have the good judgment to completely gut and redesign this legislation.
Reaganist economic policies are little more than problematic as the bulk of them simply do not address consumer concerns.
The wisdom of history leads the sensible observer to condemn interest-driven and myopic legislation such as this in exchange for what, especially now, is demanded by the U.S. economy and public.