Saturday, July 23, 2011

Taxing and Spending, in Balance

THE fight over the debt ceiling has deflected attention from the serious problems of fixing the economy and finding jobs for the 14 million unemployed. Worse, it has created strong negative feelings about fiscal policy, just when other policy measures seem incapable of restoring economic health.

The very term “fiscal stimulus” has become tainted. John Boehner, the House speaker, refers to a “misguided ‘stimulus’ spending binge.” It’s a label that reflects how many people have come to think of government expenditures to stimulate the economy — as a binge, maybe like an overdose of amphetamines. For amphetamines, the aftereffects are mental fatigue and depression. For fiscal stimulus, it is the headache of national debt — or at least that is the all-too-common view.

Fiscal stimulus is actually very useful and appropriate in the current circumstances. But rather than despair, we should at least consider what more we should be doing to deal with the pressing issue of unemployment. Let’s never give up proposing sensible economic policies.

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