Thursday, January 29, 2009

Alexander: Obama’s $825 Billion Stimulus Plan offers too little, too late

by: Stewart A. Alexander January 28, 2009 Within the past two years, Democrats in Washington DC have spent more than $1.5 trillion to help rescue the struggling U.S. economy out of the worst recession since the Great Depression; now, both Houses of Congress are fast-tracking a stimulus package for President Barack Obama that will likely cost the nation more than $1 trillion. Socialists nationwide are rejecting this new call for deficit spending and are calling for programs that will meet the short and long term needs of the nation and create immediate employment for the millions of working people that are unemployed or under-employed. The massive spending proposals that are now in the Senate and House will cut taxes while offering limited benefits to veterans, seniors and colleges students; and the proposals will offer some relief for the millions that are now unemployed. Millions of seniors that are Social Security beneficiaries would receive a one time $300 payment under the Senate’s version of the economic recovery plan. Veterans receiving disability or pension payments would also receive a one time cash bonus of $300. In addition to the cash bonus, the Senate’s stimulus plan would provide tax relief for individuals and couples. According to the Associated Press, individuals would receive “$500 per-worker, $1,000 per-couple tax cut for two years, costing about $142 billion.” The plan would also include tax benefits for businesses to claim tax credits on past profits; the plan would also include tax credits totaling $31 billion to boost renewable energy production. Other provisions in the stimulus plan would provide limited aid to the poor and unemployed. The Associated Press reports the Senate plan has “$40 billion to provide extended unemployment benefits through Dec. 31, increase them by $25 a week and provide them to part-time and other workers.” Presently, unemployment nationwide has climbed above 7 percent and many economists believe unemployment may reach double digits before the end of 2009; in some regions of the U.S., unemployment is now above 15 percent. At a time when hundred of thousands are joining the ranks of the unemployed monthly, much more will be needed by Congress to put the nation back to work. Within the past year, Congress approved a $168 billion stimulus package that failed to jump start the U.S. economy. That program provided more than 135 million Americans a one time payment of $300 to $600 to help boost the U.S. economy by energizing consumer spending; the program failed to produce any positive results while increasing the national debt. Also, within the past year, Congress has invested more than $1.5 trillion to help rescue wealthy billionaires, troubled banks and Wall Street. During the final weeks of the Bush administration, Congress approved a massive $700 billion bank bailout that has failed to free up credit for the banks that were burdened with troubled assets. Just last week, Congress release the addition $350 billion of the $700 billion Wall Street bailout package, the Trouble Assets Relief Program (TARP), to the Obama administration. Now President Obama and Congress are preparing to take a gamble with $825 billion on another trial-and-error approach that will likely produce minimal results and will not create jobs for the millions of working people that are now unemployed. With less than 10 days in office, President Barack Obama has indicated that his $825 billion economic stimulus package will energize the U.S. economy and create future jobs for more than three million Americans; socialists believe millions of jobs can be created by the end of 2010 by addressing the critical needs that are now being faced by working people everywhere. Addressing the health care needs of 49 million working people, that are now uninsured, and more than 120 million Americans that find health insurance unaffordable, is an item at the top of the socialist agenda. Socialists are calling for a single-payer health care system that will provide coverage for everyone; a system that will provide useful, long term employment for working people. President Obama has introduced various programs that will possibly produce long term results for the capitalists ruling elite; however, these programs will not put food on the table for the millions of working people that are now unemployed or under-employed today. Those program include building and repairing bridges, increasing the production of alternative energy, modernizing federal buildings, computerizing medical recording within the next five years, and investing in science, research and technology. Socialists believe the current “financial crisis” is not just a temporary setback or because of the lack of regulation in the financial sector; the collapse of the financial sector is indicative of the total failure of the capitalist economy. Socialist Party USA recently stated, “As socialist, we understand that there can no longer be any rational debate on the question of pursuing the “free market” as an alternative to the compelling urgency for a socialist transformation of society. The need of the largest capitalist firms to wipe out competition has already led to the centralization of economic power, but in the form of private ownership of an unaccountable ruling class of professional speculators, not of working people.” It is unlikely the proposed $825 billion stimulus package will have a measurable impact on a national recession that is moving like a category five hurricane. The U.S. recession is deeply related to the expanding global recession; it is likely the U.S. government would need to invest more than $10 trillion dollars into the economy to accomplish any measurable results. Even if such funding were available, socialists believe a socialist transformation of society is necessary; this will require radical demands on the existing system, demands that challenge the basic assumption of a capitalist market economy while pointing the way to a new society. For more information search the Web for: Stewart A. Alexander

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