Samuelson is referring to the economic stimulus recipe that Congress and the Prez are whipping up for an election-year citizenry. In his opinion, the package is either political symbolism and/or not likely to have much effect on a $14 trillion economy.
Part of the package will involve accelerated capital investment depreciation for businesses. Chris House, co-author of a study of an earlier tax break, opines: "It's like subsidizing bananas in the supermarket and then looking to see if total supermarket sales changed." He believes that such measures offer slight benefit.
Syndicated columnist Marie Cocco notes that in every recession since 1958, Congress has enacted a temporary extension of unemployment benefits and that this has proven to be a surefire way of getting money to people who will spend it immediately. So why is this now "extraneous spending" and out of the present package?
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