Friday, November 28, 2008

America’s Hefty Stimulus Packages: Money Just Might Grow on Trees!

Think back to speeches President Bush gave during spring of 2008 assuring Americans and the rest of the world that the fiscal stimulus package, which gave checks to a select group of taxpayers (lower income people who pay little, if any tax), would keep America out of a recession. We saw the results of this effort in the latter part of the summer – a hemorrhaging Dow Jones Industrial Average and negative third-quarter GDP growth. Remember Bear Stearns, and the assurance to taxpayers that if they bailed them out, it would stop a domino effect of collapsing banks and investment houses? Then came Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac (both partly owned by the government) AIG, Citigroup, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs and many others lining up for federal handouts. The line for free money has now expanded to the auto industry, possibly the airline industry and network television.

On one side, we have the federal government handing out money with little consequence; and on the other side, the recipients of said federal dollars have plenty to spend lobbying the government. These actions give merit to the old saying “money grows on trees.”

All of the financial institutions who received government assistance actively lobby the federal government. As a matter of fact all of these institutions have received a very nice return-on-investment (ROI)*:

While lobbying should not be banned, it is worth noting how much money these cash-flow deprived firms invest in their “best interests.” If America was still a capitalistic society, lobbying would not be an issue. However, when the government decides to bail out poorly run and irresponsible companies from an ROI standpoint, capitalism has given way to a mild form of extortion!

In spite of all that has happened, the spending that the Bush administration has enacted is only a drop in the bucket compared to what the Obama administration plans to spend. Hard to believe, isn’t it? After all, the Bush administration doubled the size of our national debt. Obama initially proposed a plan with a price tag of $175 billion during his campaign. The cost of his package could now easily exceed the Bush/Paulson $700 billion plan. We all know how these plans have their way of “porking up” as they move through Congress. This, of course, does not include the cost of all of the other promises Obama has made: tax cuts for many of whom do not pay federal income tax and healthcare reform, for example.

All through the campaign, Obama convinced voters that a vote for McCain is a vote for a third Bush term. If he represents change, then why does he plan to continue where Bush left off in terms of injecting billions of federal dollars into large corporations that are horribly run and fiscally irresponsible? None of these companies are required to restructure, change their business models, streamline their processes or obtain new leadership. One has to ask how this plan is nothing more than a band-aid. If the aid carries these companies through a recession, what will their position be when inflation sets in and interest rates rise? The absence of a long-term solution is eminent.

The Obama administration doesn’t seem to be too concerned with the fact that our federal deficit will be over $1 trillion after all of the “fiscal stimulus” is enacted. It makes one wonder if money really does grow on trees. This is the change America has elected. Haven’t we seen this before? Does the “New Deal” ring a bell? When has government-injected spending been successful in the past? The harsh reality is that America’s total debt could very well exceed 80% of the nation’s GDP in two years – its highest level in over 60 years.

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