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Yes, We Can Make the Stimulus More Stimulating

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Hannah Bell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 02:21 AM
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Yes, We Can Make the Stimulus More Stimulating
By Dean Baker
January 12, 2009, Truthout

In response to his request for ideas on how to make his economic recovery package more effective, I have put together the following list of 7 proposals...

1) Extend health insurance

Offer a $2,000 tax credit for any firm that gives health insurance to employees not currently covered...

2) Publicly funded clinical trials

The point would be to take the conduct of trials out of the control of the drug industry...As a quid pro quo...the government would get control of the licensing of the patent...

3) Cash for clunkers

Princeton economist Alan Blinder recently argued in the NYT for a program of buying back older, more polluting cars at a premium over their book value. This would get the most polluting cars off the road (raising average full efficiency) and put some money into the pockets of the people who own them...

4) Subsidies for public transportation

People in the United States take more than 10 billion trips on public transportation each year...

5) Funding for writers/artists/creative workers

In the New Deal there was both a federal arts project and a federal writers project. These programs employed thousands of young artists and writers. A creative stimulus package can extend this idea for the Internet Age...

6) Funding for the development of open software

In the same vein, the government can spend $2 billion a year to develop open source software...

7) Pay for shorter workweeks and more vacations

The United States lags the rest of world in that its workers are not guaranteed any vacation time, sick leave, or family and parental leave. In Europe, five or six weeks a year of paid vacation is standard. Also, all Western European countries guarantee their workers some amount of paid sick leave and paid parental leave. The stimulus gives us a great chance to catch up with the rest of the world...

There are undoubtedly other items that should be added to this list...The real question is whether the country can do better than the modest stimulus package that has been laid out thus far. President Obama knows that we can. /

Dean Baker is the co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR). He is the author of Plunder and Blunder: The Rise and Fall of the Bubble Economy. He also has a blog on the American Prospect, "Beat the Press," where he discusses the media's coverage of economic issues.
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