29 Jan 2009

Martin Feldstein Opposes This Stimulus

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This article by Feldstein–who calls himself a conservative economist–is breathtaking. I am not kidding, I don’t see how someone could have written an op ed opposing the current stimulus bill, that would have annoyed me more. I truly think by the end of it, my jaw had dropped. (HT2MR) Here’s the part where he shows we’re all Keynesians now; but you must read the whole thing to see just how awful it is. (“Awful” if you aren’t a fan of the government, I should clarify.)

Start with the tax side. The plan is to give a tax cut of $500 a year for two years to each employed person. That’s not a good way to increase consumer spending. Experience shows that the money from such temporary, lump-sum tax cuts is largely saved or used to pay down debt. Only about 15 percent of last year’s tax rebates led to additional spending.

Instead, the tax changes should focus on providing incentives to households and businesses to increase current spending. Why not a temporary refundable tax credit to households that purchase cars or other major consumer durables, analogous to the investment tax credit for businesses? Or a temporary tax credit for home improvements? In that way, the same total tax reduction could produce much more spending and employment.

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