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Linda Chavez
Linda Chavez
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A Modest Proposal


House Democrats passed a nearly trillion-dollar so-called stimulus bill this week at the urging of President Obama, but the spending may do little or nothing to get this economy moving again. Not even the president can explain how giving more money to prevent sexually transmitted diseases or $50 million more to the National Endowment for the Arts will stimulate anything but a good laugh. Most of the money in the bill will take so much time to work its way into the real economy, it's unlikely it will shorten the current recession or keep people from losing their jobs. Much of it will simply fund the pork-barrel projects dear to the heart of members of Congress. And with Democrats in control of both Congress and the White House, there will be no check on profligate spending.

But if we're going to have a trillion-dollar stimulus, here's a modest proposal for a better way to do it. This approach would cost about the same as the Democrats' current plan, but it could put money into people's pockets in weeks, not years.

Why not give every man, woman, and child in the United States $3,000 to spend on pretty much anything they choose. The price tag would be about $900 billion, barely more than what is in the House package now. But unlike the Democrats' plan, which has government making the decision about how the money should be spent, people would get to decide for themselves.

There'd be no limits on who could receive the money — a rich man would get the same three grand that a poor woman or child received. The program isn't intended to redistribute wealth, but to infuse the economy with cash. The only rule that would apply is that the money would have to be spent within a certain period of time, say 18 months. In addition, most of the money would have to be spent on buying things: payment toward a new or used car, down payment on a home, some new appliances, home remodeling, clothes, electronics, or even a vacation. Hey, you could even use it to put solar panels on your roof or erect a windmill in your background if that's what you wanted.

But only a portion of the money could go to paying down credit card or current mortgage debt — say, a third — and then only if the person was already two months in arrears in their payments.

In order to keep this cash distribution about as simple as possible but still allow the money to be tracked so that we know that people are actually buying stuff not hording the money in their bank accounts, the government would disperse it in the form of debit cards linked to the individual's Social Security number. The government could surely subcontract this out to one of the large credit card companies for a small administrative fee charged to the cardholder, similar to what some companies charge now for gift cards. And recipients would receive a statement that they would have to submit with their tax return within the time period to ensure they played by the rules.

The virtue of this plan would be that the market would allocate the money far more efficiently than any scheme government bureaucrats could come up with. A young family of four would suddenly have $12,000 that they could use toward a down payment on a home or a new car. Imagine how quick the inventory in depressed housing would dry up if suddenly young families had that kind of cash to put down on a home. And automobiles would go racing off the car lots.

Now, of course, all this cash could be inflationary — government spending usually is. And we know all those debit cards would be paid for with borrowed money — but so is Nancy Pelosi's "stimulus package." Nonetheless, the beauty would be that consumer spending would bring the country out of recession, create new private sector jobs and protect existing ones, and the government would get back at least a portion of what it gave away in taxes from people who were suddenly working instead of drawing unemployment compensation.

Sure, this is a radical proposal. But no more so than the boondoggle House Democrats just passed. If we're going to borrow a trillion dollars, I'd rather ordinary people got to make the decisions about where it's going to go, not Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid.

Linda Chavez is the author of "An Unlikely Conservative: The Transformation of an Ex-Liberal." To find out more about Linda Chavez, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at



6 Comments | Post Comment
Ma'am;....What does that little trillion tell you??? Why would anyone believe that a piddley little trillion dollars is going to make a dent is an 18 trillion dollar economy???I think, whether they want to admit it or not, that those people in government recognize what Marx said: That high profits are synonymous with glut; that is, Depression...WE have had high profits, and we deal in credit for everything, which means that without credit, our money would have run into profits long ago, and been done... They have all our money... If the government cannot manufacture the courage to tax the rich, it will have to find some will to print up more money, which robs from all, most certainly from the poor it is meant to help... But I like your words: So called Stimulus Package...We wouldn't want to prevent sexually transmitted diseases for example because we might save a dollar or a hundred for every dime we invest now... Let's just invest in giving money to the rich... No one ever has enough money, but if you give it to the poor they will just spend it, and certainly not wisely, like a Madoff invester: in the stuff that dreams are made of...So what is your worry??? Is it that the stimulus will work over your dead body, or that it will not...I am betting on not, myself...But then, we will all have to get ready for a new world...For me, there is little to lose, and nothing to gain by this stimulus... But You and Your class might find that if things get bad enough for long enough that no one is going to put up with the government, or the economy that makes so many poor out of formerly productive people...Lots of people have lost everything, some losing all their hopes and dreams, stuff they have put their backs behind for years, some times, their life's capital.... Some one walked away with all they lost, and they may figure that fact out, and go looking for their lives back... My bet is that they won't  find them by looking... They might find what they've lost if they rearrange society.... Perhaps it will never happen; but do you want to make sure it happens by doing nothing, or by giving even more public money to people who don't need it, and won't spend it???The problem is, that the rich have all the money and the poor can't afford afford even the best of products at any price... Give them credit, and they can't pay it...Give them money, and it is already spent... There really is no solution to the fact that a handful have cornered all the wealth of this vast country... When one has all the goods and all the money that might buy the goods, what is the cure???It surely is not more of the disease...Thanks...Sweeney
Comment: #1
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Fri Jan 30, 2009 11:16 AM
Excellent proposal! I suggested a similar argument a month ago. I would add two provisions; that the products
be Made in America and NO REFUNDS.
Thank You Ms. Chavez, for some clear minded thinking that would truly jump start the economy, grow business
and jobs, and really punch up the Dow.

Best Regards,

Mack Flinspach
Comment: #2
Posted by: Mack Flinspach
Fri Jan 30, 2009 8:33 PM
I found your idea very intriguing. I agree that politicians have taken the current economic downturn and forged it into an excuse to expand their power.
However, I was a bit disappointed because when I saw the title of your article I assumed you would reference Mr. Swift's plan for economic stimulus. Sadly, you did not.
Comment: #3
Posted by: bohstedt1
Fri Jan 30, 2009 10:28 PM
I think comments directed at Linda Chavez are making it to Walter Williams' page. This comment is upon Mr. Williams thought that California could set up borders and insist that wealthy citizens remain in state: "Were California to take such measures and have a modicum of success, one wonders how many Americans would be offended by such an encroachment on personal liberty."

The NLRB already told Boeing Corp. they cannot build a plant outside of Washington. How's that for "freedom of choice?" Big government's corollary is always big bully.
Comment: #4
Posted by: Tom
Mon Oct 8, 2012 11:46 AM
He had me there for a second. When I got to the paragraph about his "proposal", I thought to myself "no, this can't be. Not from Walter". I quickly realized he was being sarcastic and that this was a bogus idea. But for a second there he had me. I think the true Walter solution would be for the California state government to back off people and bussineses and become less restrictive.
Comment: #5
Posted by: Chris McCoy
Tue Oct 9, 2012 9:34 AM
When politicians are over their heads with lies and deceit, don't have a
writer/teleprompter telling them what lies to tell, don't know anything about what
America needs (nor do they care), use Taxpayers money for extensive
trips/vacations around the world and come back empty handed, there's nothing
else for them to do but “Keep on interrupting, lying, deceiving and flashing those
pearly whites!!!”

Five (5) decades, politicians receive exhorbitant salaries, insurance, retirements,
etc. They've done nothing to earn it! They've sold Americans jobs and left
Americans with nothing. Do you think Taxpayers should be paying the bills?

Instead of ‘blowing smoke' and since you're lost as to how to re-create the textile
and furniture manufacturing jobs you sold to foreign countries,it's time for
Taxpayers to start cutting senators, congress people, and justices. The best thing
that ever happened to America would be send politicians back home with no
salary, insurance, and retirements! ! They've proven they're not needed! After all,
when arriving in DC, they didn't have anything. Now they're millionaires!
Something's wrong?

Put Governor of each state in charge and let them know it's a job, not a career
position. If they don't correct the problems, balance the budget, put trillions back
into savings and start working for the Taxpayers (as politicians were supposed to
do), then ‘YOU'RE FIRED' and Taxpayers will hire someone else. Our children and
grandchildren don't stand a chance if we don't start immediately fixing five (5)
decades of problems created by incompetent, corrupt, and greedy politicians.

If politicians cared about America/Taxpayers, they wouldn't have passed NAFTA,
CAFTA, FOREIGN Trade, just to name a few. In other words, the private
companies politicians bailed out knew they wouldn't make it, but they took
Taxpayers hard-earned money anyway because politicians gave it to them
without Taxpayers consent. Taxpayers are the losers! Incentives, bailouts and
handouts must stop immediately!

Folks, it's really quite simple!

Comment: #6
Posted by: Shirley deLong
Sun Oct 14, 2012 2:37 PM
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