On Thursday, President Obama unveiled his latest $450 Billion stimulus program to create jobs. Incidentally, he never used the word “stimulus” in his speech, presumably since his last $800B round of stimulus did nothing to budge unemployment. Instead, he called the plan a “jobs bill”, as if a change in semantics will improve the outcome. His Keynesian plan has been debunked in enough articles that I won’t rehash all the criticisms here. Just suffice it to say, the plan amounts to borrowing more money now to spend it on some temporary stimulus to the economy. While Mr. Obama promises that this $450B will not add to the national debt, he has yet to reveal where the money will come from to pay for it. Anyone want to wager that his plan won’t be financed with non-binding budget projection cuts five to ten years in the future?
Presidential candidate Ron Paul has proposed an economic stimulus plan of his own. It may seem antithetical to see the words Ron Paul and “stimulus plan” in the same sentence. After all, this is the man who has railed against government borrowing and spending in Congress for over thirty years. The man who has spent a lifetime preaching that the government’s role in the economy is to set simple rules, protect sound money, and enforce contracts and property rights; not to dole out money and favors while picking winners and losers with taxpayer money. But in this case, the word “stimulus” is a semantic distinction to show how Ron Paul’s policies would generate an immediate boost to the economy and jobs.
Unlike the typical stimulus plans which have been endorsed by both Republican and Democrat lawmakers in the past, Congressman Paul’s plan would not require any new borrowing or spending. It wouldn’t require a big bureaucracy of central planners to determine which projects and employers get the government loot, and to keep track of it all. It wouldn’t use accounting gimmicks (like transferring money to the Social Security fund from the general fund to offset payroll tax cuts, and then borrowing that money back into the general fund to pay for spending) to allow politicians to dole out goodies today to be paid for at a later date.
Ron Paul’s stimulus plan is simple; bring the troops home.
Today, 44,000 troops are in Iraq ensuring the region is safe for democracy (aka protecting our oil). Ron Paul says bring them home as quickly and safely as possible. There are currently 100,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan patrolling the streets and rooting out insurgents. Ron Paul notes that as more innocent civilians get killed in the crossfire and the longer we are seen as foreign occupiers, the more new terrorists we incite. Let’s bring them home and let them spend money on U.S. soil. In addition to Iraq and Afghanistan, as of December 31, 2010 there were over 290,000 U.S. troops stationed abroad according to the DoD. Ron Paul says bring them home and let Europe, Japan and South Korea pay for their own national defense. Switzerland doesn’t have troops in 150 countries and their national defense seems to be just fine.
On top of the active duty military personnel, there are roughly 155,000 contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan. You can rest assured the government (i.e. taxpayers) pays them a hefty premium to perform their work in a war zone. Ron Paul says bring them home and let them build the needed infrastructure here in America. Use the war zone premium we currently pay contractors to begin paying down the deficit.
Ending the wars and shrinking our empire would add nearly 600,000 people spending their salaries right here in America, protecting our boarders, helping clean up disasters like hurricane Irene, and rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure. (Not to mention, not pissing off people around the world.) Now that’s a stimulus plan I can support.
Of course the direct stimulus from troops and contractors spending their salaries back in America is just the tip of the iceberg of the economic benefits of Ron Paul’s policies. The real money saving would come from saving hundreds of billions of dollars every year by reducing our military empire around the world. Additional billions in savings would come from eliminating entire government departments that are not authorized in the constitution and who’s heavy handed bureaucracies gum up the economic system. The real economic growth would be generated by reducing government regulations, reforming the tax code, and lowering tax rates. The real sustainability for future generations would come by instituting sound money and reforming the entitlement system, while keeping our promises to those who paid into the system. Maybe it’s semantics, but I wouldn’t call that stimulus, just good economic policy.