Economic stimulus…a far better idea

Last week, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D. Ca.) told us, with a straight face, no less, that unemployment benefits create jobs.  Anyone who frequents this blog knows that her comments make absolutely no sense.  But, in a marvelous article in Thursday’s Wall Street Journal, Arthur Laffer explains not only why Ms. Pelosi’s statement is completely wrong, but also explains, in basic English, what the Obama administration should have done.

First, there is absolutely no economic stimulus from unemployment benefits.  And, long term, it may actually harm economic growth.  To demonstrate this, Mr. Laffer asks you to imagine an economy with only 2 workers, one of whom is employed, and one of whom is unemployed, and receiving unemployment benefits.

From whom do you think the unemployment benefits are taken?  The other person obviously.  While the one person who is unemployed may ‘buy’ more as a result of unemployment benefits, the other person from whom the unemployment sums are taken will ‘buy’ less.  There is no stimulus for the economy.

Well, you may say, that example makes no sense because the money isn’t simultaneously taken out of the pocket of the employed, and, put in the pocket of the unemployed.  But, the psychological impact is the same.  The employed person knows that his taxes will have to rise to pay for the cost of the unemployment benefits, so, he spends less in order to be able to pay for the increased taxes down the road.

Let me add that I do not believe that we should have no unemployment benefits.  But, Ms. Pelosi seems to believe the benefits should be extended indefinitely because they will create jobs.  They will not.  At best, we are only holding our own.

A better way…

Mr. Laffer tells us that between 2007 and now, we have spent $3.6 trillion (between Stimulus Part I, Stimulus Part II, the parts of the 2009 budget Bush vetoed, (aka, the Porkapalooza), and assorted other unemployment benefits extension bills, presumably to save or stimulate the economy. 

Instead of spending that $3.6 trillion, Mr. Laffer says:

My suggestion would have been to take all $3.6 trillion and declare a federal tax holiday for 18 months. No income tax, no corporate profits tax, no capital gains tax, no estate tax, no payroll tax (FICA) either employee or employer, no Medicare or Medicaid taxes, no federal excise taxes, no tariffs, no federal taxes at all, which would have reduced federal revenues by $2.4 trillion annually. Can you imagine where employment would be today? 

Sounds like Reagan, doesn’t he?  Maybe now, you understand “Reaganomics”, and why lowering taxes, not increasing government spending, is the only way to truly stimulate the economy.

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The Sound Off Sister was an Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and special trial attorney for the Department of Justice, Criminal Division; a partner in the Florida law firm of Shutts & Bowen, and an adjunct professor at the University of Miami, School of Law. The Sound Off Sister offers frequent commentary concerning legislation making its way through Congress, including the health reform legislation passed in early 2010.


  1. Dimsdale on July 8, 2010 at 3:32 pm

    So, in Pelosispeak, the more unemployment we have, the less unemployment we will have!


    The emporer has no clothes.  None of them do.  Unfortunately, the press won't show the revealing pix.

  2. gillie28 on July 8, 2010 at 11:12 pm

    Man, Mr. Laffer makes a lot of sense.  It'll never happen no one with a brain and common sense is allowed to run for political office!

    According to Pelosi's theory, we should all be asking our employers to fire us and just have the whole country go on unemployment to fix the economic woes (see paragraph 1).

  3. Wind on July 9, 2010 at 5:55 am

    Art Laffer is one of the best Economists on the planet. Like Charles Krauthammer, he is a voice to listen to. I can not wait til we throw out the deadwood in Washington and get some fresh, positive, practical thinking and doing back at the helm.

  4. winnie888 on July 10, 2010 at 12:23 am

    Reagan…my hero…Now that was a president who could get kids & teenagers interested in politics, the economy, jobs, foreign affairs, etc.  I fear that there is not another one out there like him…no one has the courage to say or do the things he did or the conviction to follow through.  If the GOP could get us a candidate for president like HIM, I just might be able to think positively about our future as a country again.

    In the meantime, we have Pelosi blowing smoke and far too many gullible people out there willing to believe ANYthing that ANYone in this administration says.

    And by the way, has NO one pointed out to Ms. Pelosi that there isn't much of an economy to speak of to be stimulated by unemployment?

  5. Superman on July 10, 2010 at 12:12 pm

    I like to call these little situations…..DSD's.  "Double Standard Democrats"  If a statement like this was said under the rain of Bush (or any republication for that matter), then it would be all over the news, radio, and places like SNL as a joke.  But the media protects these bone heads.  What is this Country coming to?  Is there a way back?  We all really need to get involved here.

    • Dimsdale on July 10, 2010 at 5:36 pm

      They name streets after Democrats: ONE WAY.

  6. Superman on July 11, 2010 at 3:15 am

    Holy Crap!!  Dimsade!!  I love that!

    • Dimsdale on July 11, 2010 at 4:19 pm

      I wish I could claim authorship!  😉


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