Donald Lambro

WASHINGTON -- The Democrats love the anti-tax-cut attack line "trickle-down economics." Well, guess what? That big-spending, government-stimulus bill that passed the House fits that description perfectly.

Most of the $820 billion-plus bill, which will really cost more than $1 trillion when borrowing costs are factored in, will be spent on federal and state programs of one kind or another in the name of creating or preserving jobs. In many cases, government jobs.

What do ordinary taxpayers get? The bill provides a paltry $140 billion for President Obama's "making work pay" tax credit that will be paid out to most taxpayers by lowering the federal income-tax-withholding rate.

Economists who have crunched the numbers tell me that this part of the stimulus bill will put about $10 (for single taxpayers) to $20 (for couples) more in their weekly paychecks over the course of a year.

Few economists think $10 more a week is going to send cash-strapped consumers flocking to the stores on a spending spree, but this is what the Obama administration thinks will help low- to middle-income Americans cope with a fierce recession that's going to get worse before it gets better.

"It has virtually no bang for the buck because it doesn't affect incentives for working, investing and things that actually make the economy go," said economist J.D. Foster at the Heritage Foundation.

"Even if you get all of the money at once in a government check or over a quarter of the year, it will have the same effect on the economy -- zero," Foster told me.

While taxpayers will be getting the crumbs of the Obama rescue plan, hundreds of billions of dollars will go out to dozens of federal agencies to further fatten their budgets and to bail out debt-ridden state governments that in the good times overspent like there was no tomorrow.

Some $300 billion goes out in just aid to the states that have a long laundry list of public-works programs that have been on the back burner for years until Obama came along and offered them a deal they could not refuse.

A chunk of this money will go into needed safety-net and social-welfare programs for unemployment compensation, healthcare and food stamps. But budget analysts tell me the really big money will go into "a black hole" of government largesse that won't deliver the nearly 4 million jobs Obama says it will.

Democratic Sen. Kent Conrad, the Budget Committee chairman, says at best it may create half that, and even that is questionable.


Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.



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