Obama Considering Another Round of Stimulus
With unemployment continuing to climb and the economy struggling along, some lawmakers and pundits are raising the possibility of a second stimulus package at some point in the future. The Cato Institute was strongly opposed to the $787 billion package passed earlier this year, and would oppose additional stimulus packages on the same grounds.
“Once government expands beyond the level of providing core public goods such as the rule of law, there tends to be an inverse relationship between the size of government and economic growth,” argues Cato scholar Daniel J. Mitchell. “Doing more of a bad thing is not a recipe for growth.”
Mitchell narrated a video in January that punctures the myth that bigger government “stimulates” the economy. In short, the stimulus, and all big-spending programs are good for government, but will have negative effects on the economy.
Writing in Forbes, Cato scholar Alan Reynolds weighs in on the failures of stimulus packages at home and abroad:
In reality, the so-called stimulus package was actually just a deferred tax increase of $787 billion plus interest.
Whether we are talking about India, Japan or the U.S., all such unaffordable spending packages have repeatedly been shown to be effective only in severely depressing the value of stocks and bonds (private wealth). To call that result a “stimulus” is semantic double talk, and would be merely silly were it not so dangerous.
For more of Cato’s research on government spending, visit Cato.org/FiscalReality.
Sarah Palin Resigns as Governor of Alaska
Alaska Governor Sarah Palin resigned from office last week with 18 months left in her term, setting off weeklong speculation by pundits.
Cato Vice President Gene Healy comments:
Palin’s future remains uncertain, but it’s hard to see how her cryptic and poorly drafted resignation speech positions her for a presidential run. Nonetheless, her departure presents a good opportunity to reflect on the Right’s affinity for presidential contenders who - how to put this? - don’t exactly overwhelm you with their intellectual depth.
It’s one thing to reject liberal elitism. It’s another thing to become so consumed with annoying liberals that you cleave to anyone they mock, and make presidential virtues out of shallow policy knowledge and lack of intellectual curiosity.
Writing at Politico, Cato scholars David Boaz and Roger Pilon weigh in on what her resignation means for the former Vice-Presidential candidate’s political future:
Will we one day say that her presidency was ‘born on the Fourth of July’? I doubt it. This appears to be just the latest evidence that Sarah Palin is not ready for prime time. The day McCain chose her, I compared her unfavorably to Mark Sanford. Despite everything, I’d still stand by that analysis. At the time I noted that devout conservative Ramesh Ponnuru said ‘Palin has been governor for about two minutes.’ Now it’s three minutes.
Running for president after a single term as governor is a gamble. Running after quitting in the middle of your first term is something else again. If this is indeed a political move to clear the decks for a national campaign, then she needs adult supervision soon. But I can’t really believe that’s what’s going on here. I suspect we’re going to hear soon about a yet-unknown scandal that was about to make continuing in office untenable.
It seems that since her return to the state following the campaign, activist opponents and bloggers have bombarded the governor’s office with endless document requests. And she’s faced 16 ethics inquiries, with no end in sight. All but one have since been resolved, but the politics of personal destruction has cost the state millions, as Palin noted. Add to that the unrelenting, often vicious and gratuitous attacks on her and even on her family, and it’s no wonder that she would say ‘Enough.’ It has nothing to do with ‘quitting’ or with being ‘unable to take the heat.’ It has everything to do with stepping back and saying you’re not willing to put your family and your state through any more. She seems confident that history will judge her more thoughtless critics for what they are. I hope she’s right.
Honduras’ President Is Removed from Office
In reaction to Honduran President Manuel Zelaya’s attempt to stay in power despite term limits set by the nation’s Constitution, armed forces removed him, sending the Latin American nation into political turmoil.
Juan Carlos Hidalgo, an expert on Latin American affairs, comments:
The removal from office of Zelaya on Sunday by the armed forces is the result of his continuous attempts to promote a referendum that would allow for his reelection, a move that had been declared illegal by the Supreme Court and the Electoral Tribunal and condemned by the Honduran Congress and the attorney general. Unfortunately, the Honduran constitution does not provide an effective civilian mechanism for removing a president from office after repeated violations of the law, such as impeachment in the U.S. Constitution. Nonetheless, the armed forces acted under the order of the country’s Supreme Court, and the presidency has been promptly bestowed on the civilian figure — the president of Congress — specified by the constitution.
To be sure, Hidalgo writes, the military action in Honduras was not a coup:
What happened in Honduras on June 28 was not a military coup. It was the constitutional removal of a president who abused his powers and tried to subvert the country’s democratic institutions in order to stay in office.
The extent to which this episode has been misreported is truly remarkable.