Les Roberts on Tracking Deaths in Iraq
Happy Iraq "Surge" Anniversary!

Let Me Line Up with Alex Tabarrok Against Congressional Fiscal Stimulus

At this time, let me line up alongside Alex Tabarrok, who writes:

Marginal Revolution: Against Fiscal Stimulus: As the economy slows many people from Larry Summers to Martin Feldstein are calling for a fiscal stimulus.  I am not convinced.... [B]y the time the new spending or tax cut gets through the political process the economy has moved on and the stimulus is no longer relevant except by accident.... [I]n their desperation to "do something" politicians will often do something foolish.  If a spending increase or tax cut isn't worthwhile on its own merits then it's highly unlikely to be worthwhile once we add in the benefits of "stimulus."... Economists may call for "temporary," "conditional," and "targeted" stimulus but they won't be the ones designing the plan.  Spending increases and tax cuts are policies with long term consequences that we need to think about carefully. 

And Stan Collender writes:

Christmas 2008 May Be Coming Early For Lobbyists | Capital Gains and Games: A tax lobbyist friend told me yesterday that he's gone into the economic stimulus business. In response to my inquiring look that begged for more information, he said that I'd be surprised how many industries and professions have tax reductions that they want in any economic stimulus package that is considered this year and are looking to him to come up with arguments that confirm they will, indeed, be stimulative.

In other words, even though it hasn't yet been introduced, the economic stimulus that has become all the rage in Washington these days has already become a Christmas tree with everyone and anyone who has something they want to do trying to reframe that proposal in terms of its positive impact on the economy.

In case anyone hasn't noticed, this includes the White House, with the president all but saying that the reason the economy may be slowing is because of uncertainty about whether the tax cuts enacted during his administration will be extended when they expire in 2010.

None of this is suprising. Even though its chances of being enacted are small, an economic stimulus bill may be the only thing that actually moves through the legislative process this year. In lobbyist parlance: it may be the only train leaving the station in 2008...

20071208_delong_micro.jpg I reserve the right to change my mind, but at the moment I am with Alex: stabilization policy is typically the Fed's business, and right now I see no reason why it should not be left to Fed.