The U.S. Congress on Thursday approved a $168-billion “economic stimulus” plan that will issue tax rebate checks to millions of taxpayers. The plan, which exceeded original expectations of $145 billion, provided the media with another opportunity to question – not whether the stimulus would do any good, but whether it was big enough.
“Some people might say it’s too little, too late,” CNBC’s Erin Burnett said on the NBC “Today” show February 8. She didn’t clarify who “some people” are, but the media have questioned why the stimulus proposal was so “small.”
But economic analysts aren’t sure an economic stimulus package – big or small – will help boost the economy. Cato Institute senior fellow and BMI adviser Dan Mitchell said January 18 that the proposed stimulus “will not work.”
“Rebates are particularly disappointing because they resuscitate the discredited Keynesian notion that an economy benefits when the government borrows money from people in one sector of the economy and distributes it back to people in another sector of the economy,” Mitchell said.
Burnett said, however, that “at a time when the American economy has been under attack, it is better to get something than nothing.”
“The U.S. dollar and the U.S. economy have been taking a beating. It is the right word to use,” Burnett said. “So will the interest rate cuts that we’ve been getting and the rebate checks help the economy and the U.S. dollar? Well, watch CNBC all day; you’ll certainly find out.”
Burnett also praised the government’s expected “efficiency” in distributing the checks. Reports have suggested checks will be mailed beginning in May.
“But the bottom line here, Ann, is we’d like to get them tomorrow. Sixty days, though, is lightening speed when it comes to government work,” she said.