First, most people who receive a tax cut don't spend all of it. They use part of it to pay down their debts or they save it. Most of us did one or the other last spring with that tax rebate. From the standpoint of any particular individual, paying down debts or saving may be smart behavior -- even commendable. But what's intelligent for an individual does not necessarily translate into what's good for the economy as a whole. The only way to get businesses to create or preserve jobs is through additional spending. And unlike tax cuts used to pay down personal debt or add to savings, every dollar of government spending flows directly into the economy and adds to overall demand.Every cent of our last stimulus check went to paying bills and debt. Every cent of any new stimulus check we get will go in the same direction. We are glad for the money and sorry we won't be spending it to help the economy. But that is the reality of our economic situation. My guess is you can multiply that thinking by millions.
Second, even that portion of a tax cut we might actually spend doesn't necessarily go into the American economy. It goes all over the world. I have nothing against creating or preserving the jobs of Asians who assemble those flat-panel TVs you see at the mall, for example, but right now we're trying to create or preserve jobs here in America. Sure, the retail workers at the mall who sell the flat-panel TV's might benefit, but remember we're talking about how to get the biggest bang for every dollar. When government spends to repair a highway or build a school or help pay for medical services, the money and the jobs stay here in America.
Finally, those who say cutting taxes on businesses is the best way to create or preserve jobs forget about the demand side. Even with a tax cut, businesses won't hire workers unless there are customers to buy what those workers produce. A government stimulus that creates jobs is a necessary precondition.
Thursday, February 05, 2009
Why Tax Cuts Won't Cut It
Robert Reich talks some sense about why government spending is so much more effective than tax cuts at this moment: