From Bushworld, Lazear had a similar take. The stimulus package would keep an economic slowdown from becoming a recession. Look at it, he argued, as an insurance policy to keep "a half million Americans working who otherwise would not have jobs."
As for my fears about deficit spending, Lazear countered, "The deficit right now is very low," -- 1.2 percent of gross domestic product -- "let's not get hysterical about it." The big problem looming over this country comes not so much from annual spending, but from unfunded Social Security and Medicare promises.
Once again, the easy thing -- spending money we don't have and sending voters checks as high as $800 -- can be seen as the right thing to do. It's an argument of bad short-term behavior for a good long-term gain. Meanwhile, the day of reckoning -- paying off the $35 trillion in unfunded mandates that amounts to $156,000 for every American man, woman and child -- awaits.
Stanford economics professor John Taylor, also a McCain adviser, noted that McCain's opposition to personal rebates in favor of permanent tax cuts is "quite courageous. Just to increase the budget deficit by $150 billion and have marginal impact is not good policy."
That's the other hitch in this stimulus package, whatever it might be: It better work.