House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Tuesday that Congress needs to "keep the door open" to a second stimulus package -- raising the question of how much the government could eventually spend on top of the $787 billion already allocated to rescue the country from dire economic straits.
"The word of the day is confidence. Confidence in our markets, confidence in lending, confidence in our financial institutions," Pelosi said before suggesting the need for a second rescue package during a press conference Tuesday following a meeting with top economists.
Mark Zandi, chief economist and founder of Moody's Economy, took a more definitive stance than Pelosi, telling reporters a second stimulus bill is necessary.
"We are going to need more taxpayer money ... I think another stimulus package is a reasonable assumption because of the way things are going," Zandi said.
The Obama administration has not ruled out a second stimulus package -- should the current bill prove insufficient -- but it has not indicated a second bill is currently in the making either.
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters on Feb. 17 that Obama "is going to do what's necessary to grow this economy." While "there are no particular plans at this point for a second stimulus package," he added, "I wouldn't foreclose it."
Wouldn't foreclose it? That's a pretty unfortunate turn of speech for a White House Press Secretary to employ, don't you think?
Panic is such a useful political tool. The economy is still soft, of course--and during the votes and debate (such as it was) over the first Obama stimulus package the average American was constantly reminded that it would be impossible to see quick results, that even if the economy seemed to be improving it might or might not be because of the stimulus, and that even with the stimulus the economy might not improve. But we couldn't do nothing. Oh, no, doing nothing was hardly an option, not when "doing something" meant spending billions of taxpayer dollars, most of them in small unmarked untraceable bills.
Surprise, surprise! There's still, a whole two months (more or less) after the passage of the Obama Plan, some economic struggling, some (dare we invoke the not-yet-dead ghost of Jimmy Carter?) malaise out there. And we can't have that, not with only a little over a year and a half left before the midterm Congressional elections, now can we?
So the "We may need a second one-time-only-emergency-billions-of-taxpayer-dollars-in-small-unmarked-bills-do-not-call-the-police-if-you-ever-want-to-see-your-beloved-economy-again-stimulus-package" trial balloon is already soaring to lofty heights, with many news reports picking up the chatter and reporting on it as if it's only a matter of time before a new plan is drafted and passed.
I think Americans need to say no, now, before this becomes a habit. You know the drill: first a bright-eyed Congress promises to get its act together if you'll only give it a little more cash, then the demands and whining for money start to become a regular thing, and pretty soon you're finding out that your Congress is so addicted to this lifestyle that it's out robbing convenience stores to keep the money coming, especially if you wise up and cut it off from your income as an act of tough love.
We need to put our feet down, and remind Congress that the way most people get money is by earning it, not by borrowing billions and billions of dollars from unborn Americans quite likely to be cannibalized for their stem cells long before they ever start paying any income tax. Oh, they'll probably protest, and raise the specter of a total economic meltdown, but since by their own admission they don't know if their stimulus packages will stop this or make it happen faster I don't really think they have a leg to stand on.