Monday, January 5, 2009

We Need a New Deal, Not Another Refund Check

NEW YORK, New York -- After reading in various media (here, here and here, for starters) that the estimated $500 billion to $800 billion stimulus package being prepared is rumored to include -- perhaps as a carrot to get intransigent, knuckle-dragging Republican congressmen like Mitch McConnell and John Boehner on board -- up to $310 billion in tax refunds, I want to send a quick note to the Obama economic team. Maybe, though, they'd be better if they read (or re-read) these thoughts first, from the CEO of IBM.

Jan. 4, 2009

To the Obama team:

Sirs, please do not let fear of the McConnell-Boehner Roller Derby push you into the tax-cut corner. That will not give our economy the help even Reagan's economists say it needs, either in the short term or the long term.

This is a George Bush way of stimulating the economy -- in fact, he tried it; and it didn't work.

I can only speak for myself. I am an American who makes a salary above the national median, but not that much. And, since I live in New York City, I have expenses well above the median.

I do not need a tax refund. I'll do with it exactly what I did with Bush's tax cut -- put it in my bank account. My neighbors might pay down their mortgages with theirs; or buy a new flat-screen TV, fresh off the Shenzhen, China, assembly line.

For the love of God, invest the once-in-a-lifetime amount of money you'll have wisely. We need to bring our country into the 21st century. Invest in basic research centers for Midwestern cities, so that they might create advanced manufacturing techniques that will allow us to actually produce goods rather than send trillions to China for everything we need. Build worker re-training programs to give those Midwesterners (and South Carolinians and Rhode Islanders) the flexibility to get a job in a new, growing industry. Invest in high-speed trains to link those Midwestern cities with the coasts, and with one another. Help cut transport costs to get American goods to American cities without any logistics costs -- or problems. Invest in a smart grid. In broadband. In medical research. In healthcare and education -- removing huge health costs from the shoulders of employers and preparing a new generation of people to re-energize their companies. That's what will create jobs in the short term and put our economy on better footing for the long term.

Or you could give me another $500 to put in the bank; or give my co-workers $500 to buy a new made-in-China flat-screener. But having a new 31-inch TV won't bring our nation forward, give us job security today, or prepare US students to compete with, as Candidate Obama liked to say, Berlin, Beijing and Bangalore tomorrow.

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