Stimulus Package 2.0: The Sequel

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As Thanksgiving passes and Christmas nears, the spirit of giving should drain out all ears. Yeah, I’m not quite sure what that was supposed to mean, but what I do know is that we need money.

Unemployment at the start of November was 10.2 percent and the trend only seems to be looking up; that’s optimism for you. But it could be worse. Sure we had a tuition increase, and we probably won’t be getting what we want for the holidays, but at least we had a stimulus package.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 — aka the stimulus bill — passed in February and has actually helped. For example, the bill saved many education jobs. Emphasis on saved, however. So instead of creating four new jobs at a school, they only fired six when they could have let go 10. Thus, four jobs saved or something like that.

This sort of thing is important though, because it slows down the bleeding. What could have been an avalanche of unemployment actually turned out to be snowballs, a lot of snowballs.

What was disappointing about the stimulus bill was its size. It was too small. When the Democrats and President Obama were pushing the bill they said that this was the worst recession since the Great Depression and that the sky was falling. They were pretty close to being right. Thanks to a lot of government intervention the economy didn’t fall and the sky stayed in its place. However the prescription didn’t match the severity of the problem. It was frustrating to hear when Vice President Biden said of the growing unemployment that, “We misread how bad the economy was…”

How can you misread how bad the economy was when you were announcing that doom and gloom was upon us? That’s like saying there’s going to be a huge flood and then wondering why the sail boat you made didn’t cut it. It doesn’t make sense. Only in the world of politics can you diagnose a problem correctly, know how to treat it and say forget it, let’s pick option B. Well, politics and health care, but I digress.

A second stimulus bill is needed. While a new stimulus bill would still not end the recession, it would certainly help. The current stimulus bill is not even completely rolled out, but economists like Paul Krugman know that states need more help. It’s not that hard to realize why. States are bound by their budgets with very little wiggle room. In order to avoid going bankrupt, they have to slash programs and government jobs. This only worsens the problem, leaving each state with its own Governor Hoover at the helm.

Back when the first stimulus bill was passed, big state Republican Governors Crist and Schwarzenegger were happy to accept stimulus money, much to the chagrin of conservatives. While this is now hurting Crist in his bid for the senate with his conservative base, it has helped Florida save 29,000 jobs.

We have to do whatever works to get this country back into a state of prosperity. Some might say that we are wasting away our children’s future by spending so much money; they’ll have to pay it all back eventually at high tax rates. Well, to be blunt, they’re not going to have a future if we continue to have high unemployment. The argument from the right also seems pretty counterintuitive on another level. A lot of them say that if we are going to have a stimulus package, make it all tax cuts. But if they are worried about the debt and deficit, that will only make it much worse. Government spending tends to give you more bang for buck than tax cuts.

While I like politics as much as the next political science major, right now, it stands in the way of the country’s recovery. The great moral philosophers of our day, Mase and P.Diddy once said that “mo’ money” equals “mo’ problems”. While that may be true, not having any money is also a pretty big problem.

Jaye Estrada is a third-year biological sciences major. He can be reached at estradaj@uci.edu.

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