The checks from the first stimulus package have not even been mailed yet and already the Senate is contemplating another $75 to $95 billion deficit spending spree. This time they want to give away more federal dollars in jobless benefits, food stamps, heating bills, and new infrastructure. Before Congress breaks out the checkbook again, maybe they should take a look at how their own policies are putting the squeeze on the vary families they are trying to help.
For starters, the House energy bill passed Wednesday can only harm the economy and middle class families. Sure sopping evil oil companies with $17 billion in higher taxes feels good politically, but any honest economist will tell you those corporations will act like corporations always do. They will pass the higher costs onto consumers in the form of higher fuel prices today and curtail domestic production which will add to fuel costs tomorrow. Ethanol mandates in current energy policy also hurt middle class families by driving up the cost of corn which then raises prices across the agricultural sector.
If only Congress could find the political will to use it, they already have the ability to quickly stimulate the economy without adding a single dollar to the deficit: pass the pending free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea. Expanding trade is one of the fastest routes to economic expansion. U.S. Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez recently noted that in 2007, “U.S. exports…increased 12.7 percent to $1.4 trillion, an all-time record. We’re on track to beat that this year with continued, double-digit growth.” Much of the growth in gross domestic product (GDP) was a result of free trade agreements that the United States has negotiated with 14 countries.
- Congressional Democrats are meeting behind closed doors to develop plans for $10 billion in extra money for farm commodity programs which would help big corn, wheat and soybean growers.
- A drop in wind generation late on Tuesday, coupled with colder weather, triggered an electric emergency that caused the Texas grid operator to cut service to some large customers.
- Thousands of foreign student pilots have been able to enroll and obtain pilot licenses from U.S. flight schools, despite tough laws passed in the wake of the 9/ll attack thanks to lax TSA enforcement.
- Treatment with adult stem cells harvested from blood or bone marrow may benefit some patients with certain kinds of cardiovascular disorders and autoimmune diseases, a new U.S. analysis shows.
- Just 24% of American voters have a favorable opinion of the New York Times. Forty-four percent (44%) have an unfavorable opinion and 31% are not sure. The paper’s ratings are much like a candidate’s and divide sharply along partisan and ideological lines.