01/27/08 — Windfall for all? Rebates will help economy only if implemented wisely

View Archive

Windfall for all? Rebates will help economy only if implemented wisely

The idea of an economic stimulus package is a good one — even if all it really accomplishes in the end is giving American families a reassuring feeling that there is no reason to panic.

And accomplishing that act quickly is an even better idea.

But as we think about what the next steps should be to shore up the economy, we have to pay attention to make sure no one is giving away the store in an attempt to keep the bears at bay.

Rebates to families who pay taxes make sense.

For many, getting to keep a few hundred extra dollars would be a way to offset some of the rising gas price bite.

And, after all, it is their money.

But what about those who are not paying income taxes and will still get some kind of rebate? Should that be part of the economic stimulus package currently being considered by Congress?

And why should you care who gets money, you might ask?

The answer is simple — because it really is your money and it is now more important than ever to keep an eye on where it is spent.

There are a lot of touchy, feely proposals that will be bandied about in Congress as both parties struggle to look like the heroes as they react to this economic malaise. There will be lots of speeches about caring for those who cannot help themselves and sharing the wealth with people of all income levels.

And it will all sound noble and thoughtful. Some of it might even be a good idea.

But beware — what sounds good might not be the best news for your pocketbook.

There is no question something needs to be done — and that it should touch as many lives as possible. But first priority should be to relieve those who are paying the bills — and those who truly cannot help themselves.

There are still too many people in this country who do not want to pursue the education, training or other hard work necessary to get the skills to find jobs that will allow them to support their families.

And if we don’t give them an incentive, they never will.

Stimulate their economies not with a free check to spend on anything, but free training or childcare benefit — and a time limit to get the skills necessary to earn a paycheck.

Or, even better, give them a double rebate if they will use their check to get more education or training.

At the very least, make sure the money can be used only for necessities, not frivolous purchases or wasted in other ways.

You don’t get out of an economic mudslide by throwing more money away.

Stimulating this economy should not result in even more bills in the future for taxpayers — or pretty soon, there won’t be enough left to carry the burden.

Published in Editorials on January 27, 2008 1:46 AM