Finally, with the political landscape changing on Capitol Hill, there is hope for a real economic stimulus package.
By the time President Bush took office in 2001, the economy had already been in decline for almost a year. He quickly pushed through a tax relief package that, unfortunately, phased in most of the benefits over several years.
As the economy continued to tank, it became increasingly obvious that something more substantial was needed.
The conventional way for government to jump-start the economy is to cut taxes. Democratic presidents, as well as Republicans, have done it successfully in the past. When American families are allowed to keep more of their earnings, they have to either spend it or invest it. There are no other options. Either way, that creates jobs.
Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, the great obstructionist, was able to block several GOP tax packages. Now that the Republicans control the upper chamber again, however, that has changed.
The administration says it already is working on a stimulus package that probably will involve implementing the 2001 tax bill more quickly. That would mean lower tax rates, a reduction in the marriage penalty and higher child tax credits -- all designed to help working families.
If the economy had already recovered, no stimulus package would be necessary. However, despite a recent uptick in the stock market, the economy has slowed during the last quarter. Also, there is a chance of war or a new terrorist act -- or perhaps even both -- in the next few months. If past is prelude, either would devastate the market, at least in the short term. A tax cut may be needed to shorten the effects of such a downturn.
The time for political games is over. Now that it can, government needs to starting fighting the recession.
-- Florida Times-Union, Jacksonville
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