Critics of President Obama's stimulus package (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) include many of his ardent supporters. There is growing concern that the package is inadequate to reverse the current economic meltdown and that sustainable remedies require a preponderance of non-traditional, innovative strategies. Progressive economists and others feel that the package misses the mark in key areas and that alternative approaches are needed.
Political commentator Gary Null's, "A Progressive Stimulus Package for America's Future Sustainability," is a thought-provoking critique of the stimulus plan. It has serious implications for all Americans, especially Blacks, others of color, and the poor, those most severely affected by the economic crisis. Excerpts from Null's commentary follow:
"There is no doubt that a stimulus package is urgently needed at this critical time of a global economic meltdown. However, the last thing a stimulus package should focus upon is injecting enormous tax dollars into the coffers of private Wall Street banks. These institutions' executive bonuses, investment and insurance firms and their heavily lobbied special interest groups do not benefit the public at-large.
An examination of the stimulus package shows clear signs of failure for the long term. Although it contains some valuable benefits and increases investment on Main Street, including setting a course for more progressive policies towards health care, energy and job creation, many economists are quick to criticize it for being too partial towards financial institutions and shorthanded in aiding average Americans. They argue that the plan continues to dump money into the system to reinvigorate loans and increase consumption, and is seriously flawed. Bailing out the banks to increase credit flow has no guarantee for restoring Americans' confidence in the current system. Their anger against Wall Street is a clear indicator of the growing lack of trust in our economic leaders.
Three other critical faults in the stimulus package are 1), it does not target the immediate personal needs and fiscal recovery of the average American citizen, 2) does not take into account the horrendous drain of American reserves and dollars now being spent in Iraq and Afghanistan; and 3), many politicians are being given numerous pork barrel benefits that have nothing to do with addressing the current economic crisis.
The stimulus package does not consider what might be saved from the existing budget that could lower spending and taxes, improve social services and actually make the nation run more efficiently. With some exceptions, redundancy, waste and profiteering remain intrinsic in the targeted spending. We should first try to better manage the existing economy that can be achieved with greater accountability, transparency and different ethics. Giving taxpayer money to bail out banks' liabilities is tantamount to fraud. Not once were the banks receiving a government bailout required to reveal actual and potential liability portfolios.
Americans voted for progressive change that would remove the United States from Iraq, roll back past administrations' favoritism towards the corporate and financial oligarchies, and a proactive reinvigoration of life on Main Street. The United Nations and multi-national forces-- with America's assistance-can deal with the Afghanistan crisis. Just by exiting these two war zones alone, American taxpayers will save between $5 and $20 billion per month.
The solution should not be solely an economic one, but also incorporate resource solutions; economists point out the inherent relationship between free market capitalism, abuse of our natural resources and the degradation of the environment. In part, we got into the present recession by shifting from a manufacturing to a consumer-based society.
(Gary Null says that although he supports the authentic change Obama set forth during his campaign, the selection of his Cabinet members does not bode well for the changes promised and so desperately need.)
A prevailing myth is that the major banks are "too big to fail." In fact, there are sound reasons for them to fail, or break up into smaller, manageable pieces that lessens larger risks, instead of getting billions to survive which puts all of society at greater risk. So far, the government's financial team is enabling banks and insurance firms to merge, buy up their rivals and become even larger, more dangerous and, potentially, more insolvent."
Larry Aubry can be contacted at e-mail