Give only where it’s needed

America’s seniors won’t get a cost of living boost in their Social Security checks in January because prices haven’t risen in this down economy and have actually fallen in areas such as energy.
Anticipating disappointment that might turn into Republican votes in 2010, President Obama is urging Congress to send $250 checks to all Social Security pensioners as a sop. Those checks, he said, “would not only make a difference for them, but for the economy as a whole, and be especially important in the coming months, as countless seniors and others have seen their retirement accounts and home values decline as a result of this economic crisis.”
This is one of the least defensible ideas the administration has fielded in its recession-fighting program.
While $250 would make very little difference to any retiree, the cost of this political gesture would be about $14 billion, every penny of which would add to the deficit. And while $14 billion added to the national debt is substantial, in-jecting it into the U.S. economy would hardly make a ripple.
It is, in short, about nothing but politics.

WHETHER America’s poor, old and young alike, need additional assistance is an entirely different matter. Sending checks to everyone on Social Security is bad policy because it would give borrowed money to millions who don’t need it.
Extending unemployment benefits, on the other hand, sends help to those most in need while stimulating consumer purchasing. That’s win-win. All other additional federal assistance to families and individuals should satisfy similar criteria.

— Emerson Lynn, jr.