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The Opposite of Stimulus


Remember Cash for Clunkers? Here’s another government program that is costing more than the government budgeted for — twice as much:

DALLAS — When Congress passed an $8,000 tax credit for first-time home buyers last winter, it was intended as a dose of shock therapy during a crisis. Now the question is becoming whether the housing market can function without it.

As many as 40 percent of all home buyers this year will qualify for the credit. It is on track to cost the government $15 billion, more than twice the amount that was projected when Congress passed the stimulus bill in February. [...]

Joseph and Chassity Myers are among the two million buyers eligible for the credit this year. The newlyweds heard they could get money from the government for something they were tempted to do anyway.

“It was a no-brainer,” said Mr. Myers, a commercial underwriter. “Owning something is the American family dream.”

The couple bought a two-bedroom condominium here in the spring for $171,000 and amended their 2008 taxes immediately, receiving their windfall by direct deposit a few weeks later.

Their home is now a monument to the government’s generosity. They bought a leather couch, a kitchen table, a bed, television stand, china cabinet, kitchen table, coffee table, grill and patio set.

“We did exactly what the government wanted us to do,” said Ms. Myers, a third grade teacher. “We stimulated the economy.”

Sorry, but no. All of these Cash for ________ programs do not “stimulate the economy.” They encourage people to spend instead of save and buy this instead of that. Tax rate cuts, on the other hand, encourage people to work harder, increase productivity and grow the economy. Under Obama, we’re getting more redistribution and higher tax rates — exactly the opposite of economic stimulus.


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