I agree with President Obama that we need to get this bill urgently approved by Congress, signed into law, and begun to be implemented as soon as possible, no later than the middle of next week. That obviously doesn't mean any bill will do. However, given the staggering and growing layoffs and unemployment numbers reported almost daily, a "better" bill in 30 days may not be as effective as the final compromise bill Senate and House representatives should be able to come up with and voted favorably on by Friday or Saturday this week.
I also agree with most of what long-time "MoneyTalk" host Bob Brinker said about the final bill on his radio show yesterday:
1. No pork projects must be allowed to creep into the bill, just because a legislator wants to satisfy lobbyists, constituents or campaign contributors, or any personal ideological view.
2. Infrastructure projects that are not "shovel ready" to stimulate the economy in the short term should preferably not be incorporated, even though they are good projects that are beneficial and appropriate over the medium or longer term. That said, I'm certain there are many needed public infrastructure projects that can be made "shovel ready" on a very fast track to stimulate the economy with tens of thousands of new jobs within a short 3-6 months time frame.
3. Even though it's apparently not being considered in the Congress so far, a temporary reduction in the payroll tax would be a prudent tool because it puts more money in the the hands of both employers and employees, and it would be easy and quick to implement. I'm talking primarily about the 6.2% currently withheld from an employee's pay and equally contributed by the employer for Social Security and the current 1.45% for Medicare .
4. To help stabilize the housing market, I like the idea of a temporary 10% tax credit of up to $15,000 for the purchase of foreclosed properties as a primary residence for, say, the next six months, with the possibility of an extension for the remainder of 2009.
5. Keeping in mind that the U. S. has about the highest corporate income tax rates among the major developed countries, and that this has induced many companies to move headquarters and operating units to lower tax jurisdictions abroad, I think lower corporate tax rates could stimulate near-term investments in new machinery and equipment and reduce pressure for more layoffs.
To the Congress members working on reconciling the respective House and Senate bills in the next several days, I say that the American people expect you to work expeditiously on a bipartisan basis to do what's in the country's best interest. No more politics as usual. Earn your generous pay and benefits! Get it done!