Tax rebate is not a good solution

Opposing a tax rebate probably isn't going to be a popular notion, but here goes. Someone needs to point out the obvious: Adding more than $160 billion to an already bloated federal budget deficit is like using an anabolic steroid. Maybe it will pump us up in the short term, but it will have long-term negative effects.

At first blush, the economic stimulus package approved by Congress and signed by President Bush appears to follow classic Keynesian economic principles by using government spending to "prime the pump" of a weak economy. Unfortunately, the rest of the Keynesian formula, which involves paying down the debt during good times, is largely ignored. We had budget surpluses for a few years during the 1990s, which allowed us to trim the national debt a little, but those surpluses were short-lived.

No politician wants to be the one to stand up in opposition to mailing checks to voters during an election year. But the stimulus package is expected to contribute significantly to a projected 2008 deficit of more than $400 billion. This intimidating figure doesn't include appropriations for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which are not considered part of the regular budget and, therefore, are not included in published deficit figures. The deficit is projected at more than $400 billion in 2009, too.

The stimulus package is a done deal, so complaining about it here means little. But in the future, we need to take a closer look at how we do business. Running up deficits will lead to increased interest payments on the national debt. That will suck money out of the budget that could have been better used. Those payments will continue year after year, long after this stimulus package is forgotten.

For the past five years, we've been told we can fight a war on two fronts overseas and yet sacrifice virtually nothing on the home front. With the stimulus package, we are being told it is our patriotic duty to accept money from a government that is already deeply in debt.

The day of reckoning may be years or decades away, but it is not imaginary. This debt will one day need to be repaid. There is no other conclusion that can be drawn: Our elected officials are stealing from our grandchildren so our economy can get a short-term jolt. And we let them get away with it, because they're sending us enough money for that new flat-screen TV we've had our eyes on.

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