House Republicans today unveiled their own economic stimulus program in response to what President Barack Obama is pushing. There are some good ideas in the GOP's plans and some not-so-good ideas.
Among the good ideas is an across-the-board cuts in the two lowest income tax brackets, placing unemployment benefits off-limits to taxation, and a tax cut for small businesses. Since so much of our economy is fueled by consumption a tax cut for lower income families makes sense to me and I've never understood the point of taxing unemployment benefits (or student loans, for that matter). And since the majority of new jobs created in this country come from small businesses, I can also get behind a tax cut for those companies to encourage growth and capital investment, which will result in jobs and not dividends as you might find with similar cuts for large corporations.
What I find odd is their proposing a new $7,500 break for home buyers who make a minimum down payment of 5 percent. My problem with this is there's a very similar program already on the books (and which runs out this summer so if you CAN buy a house, now's a good time), plus the reason housing is stalled right now is because nobody has cash and the banks have tightened credit so even if you could save 5% there's no guarantee that you'll find a mortgage.
Those are relatively minor beefs I have though. Where we really part ways is on reigning in of federal spending, something that was missing from Republican concerns during eight years of Bush but is now suddenly critical to saving us from disaster now that a Democrat is in office.
"Rather than spending too much, too late as the congressional proposal does, our proposals let the American people keep more of what they earn to spur investment, encourage savings and create more private sector jobs," John Boehner, the GOP's House leader, said in a statement.
Of course, most Americans don't own their own business so saving is maybe not what we really want now anyway and the spending programs Obama is proposing largely include infrastructure improvement programs the country needs anyways (see: falling bridges, water main breaks, and crumbling highways). While the GOP seems to have no problem dumpings billions a month into rebuilding Iraq's infrastructure (with no bid private contracts, mind you), they seem dead set against ensuring your own country's foundation meets at least third-world standards.
Someone give the Republicans shovels, they seem intent on digging!