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by Michael D. Tanner
When it comes to government spending, "stimulus" apparently means never having to say "enough."
You may not realize it to listen to, say, Paul Krugman, but Congress has already passed three separate stimulus bills, at a total cost of roughly $1 trillion.
The first of these came back in February 2008 under the Bush administration: a $152 billion measure, featuring a $600 tax rebate, several incentives for businesses, and loan guarantees for the housing industry At the time the economic downturn was just beginning and unemployment was 4.9 percent.
Then, as the recession picked up steam in September 2008, Congress passed the $61 billion "Job Creation and Unemployment Relief Act of 2008." This bill pumped money into federal "infrastructure projects" and extended unemployment insurance. One month later, unemployment reached 6.5 percent.
Every dollar that government spends is a dollar that is siphoned from American workers regardless of whether it is raised through debt or taxes.
And of course, last year President Obama pushed through the giant $787 billion stimulus bill that was the hallmark of his first year in office. When the bill passed, the unemployment rate was 8.1 percent.
Today, unemployment is 9.5 percent and Congress is again debating a stimulus bill, this time a $34 billion measure in the Senate (The House-passed version cost $60 billion) to provide grants for state and local governments, extend unemployment benefits again, and provide for more targeted business tax breaks.
All of this does not even include TARP I or II, or last year's budget which hiked spending for all sorts of "job creating" programs.