mad anthony

Rants, politics, and thoughts on politics, technology, life,
and stuff from a generally politically conservative Baltimoron.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

What does the stimulus bill mean for madanthony? Nothing...

Consumerist has an interesting article about what the stimulus bill means to everyday Americans. As an everyday American, I found it interesting - and painful, and depressing.

Basically, what it means to me is pretty much nothing. There is a slight tax decrease, which will manifest itself as ~$13 a week extra for the average person. That works out to about half an hour of overtime for me. I don't think I would notice, or change my spending habits, if I got an extra half hour of OT in a paycheck. That is, if I get any reduction at all - it caps at 75k for singles. I was around that last year thanks to a ton of OT, although our CIO has made some comments about cutting OT this year, so who knows.

Then there is a large category of welfare and entitlement stuff - more food stamps, more Medicare, COBRA subsidies for insurance for the unemployed, more and tax-free unemployment, a one-time Social Security payment. Some of these probably have merit, but it's hard to imagine too many of them will provide much int he way of economic stimulus. I'm generally not a fan of transfer/entitlement payments, but I can see a certain amount of merit in, say, increasing unemployment benefits during a period where there is a high unemployment rate and it's harder for people to get jobs. But I doubt the spending by those people is going to make much of a difference.

The third major category is "tax breaks for people who happen to be in the right place at the right time". This includes an up to $8000 tax break for first-time homebuyers in 2009, being able to write off sales tax on the purchase of a new vehicle purchased in 2009, 30% back on the install of energy-efficient windows, furnaces, or AC, as well as some education breaks.

Of course, I'm not in the right place for any of these - my windows are only a few years old, my heat pump was replaced 2 years ago, and I'm not planning on trading in my paid-off, perfectly good 3 year old pickup for another couple years, tax break or not.

I don't think this third catagory is going to make much difference - most of it is going to go to people who were going to do those things anyway. It might make a difference at the margin - someone who was going to replace their windows or car next year might do it this year instead - but all that does is mean that people are moving up purchases - meaning that sales in those catagories in 2010 will be weaker.

The tax break for first-time homebuyers really kind of irks me - not only do they get to take advantage of lower prices, but my tax dollars get to go to making them get an even better deal.

I don't hold a lot of hope for this bill - I don't think it's going to make a difference in the economy, and it's going to cost a shitload of money that we will be paying for for generations.


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