Ready for my stimulus check

Published 5:03 pm Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Only in Washington, D.C., could the following happen: The House of Representatives sent a bill to the Senate. It was an $819 billion so-called stimulus bill. The Senate received the bill and, immediately, the Republicans sought face time before the television cameras decrying the size and scattered approach of the bill.

They wrangled a week and a few Republicans got behind closed doors to meet with the Democrats and hammer out some kind of compromise. Hallelujah, they said on Friday.

“We’ve got a bill!” Harry Reid declared.

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The bill that they worked so hard on to eliminate the wasteful spending of the House bill came out actually costing $837 billion, according to the Office of Management and Budget. Only in Washington could one bill that was too big and costly go from one legislative body to the other and come out even larger and, then, be called a victory. How farcical.

Farcical means ludicrous, ridiculously clumsy, absurd. All of those adjectives apply to the back and forth of our Congress. The only thing missing is the humor.

I’ve been thinking. A mind is a terrible thing to waste and with all these numbers in the hundreds of billions and even trillions being thrown around, I’ve been “ciphering” as ole Jed Clampett used to say to Jethro.

If Congress really wants to spend a trillion dollars and, at the same time, stimulate the economy, I’ve got an idea.

A trillion dollars is a lot of dough. It reminds me of a quote I have used in this space before. During the LBJ days of financing his Great Society experiment, a new figure of finance, the billion, was being thrown around as if it was a $10 bill.

The white-haired, gravelly voiced senator from Illinois, Everett Dirkson famously said, “A billion here, a billion there—pretty soon you’re talking about real money.” Our current Congress seems to feel the same way about a trillion.

By now you have probably had someone explain just how much a trillion is, but just in case you haven’t consider this. Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky put the figure in this context. He said, “If you started spending the day Jesus was born and you spend a million dollars every single day, you still wouldn’t have spent a trillion dollars. This is a lot of money.”

I wanted to see just how much money a trillion might mean to the average American. I figured that there were about 300 million of us. Just how much would each American get if they simply divided up a trillion and gave a little of it to each.

It’s tough dividing 300 million into a trillion. There’s a whole lot of zeros. My calculator wouldn’t let me put that many zeros in so I had to do it by pencil and paper. I had not “long divided” in a while so I had to work at it pretty hard, but I came up with an interesting figure.

If Congress really wants to give away a trillion dollars, they could write 300 million stimulus checks for $3,333.33 each. That’s a check for every man, woman and child. The woman in California who just had the eight children could add her other six children in, plus herself, and she would get almost $50,000. I figure her money would last about two weeks.

Our president said just last night that only the federal government could jolt our economy back to life. He also said that failure to act swiftly and boldly could turn a crisis into a catastrophe. Mr. Obama declared, “The party now is over.”

Phooey, I say. Just send me my portion of the stimulus package now and I will show you a resumption of the party. Every corner I know would be whooping and hollering, grilling steaks, playing cards, telling jokes and spending $3,333.33. Our economy would be jolted back to life in just a matter of weeks.

Opponents of my idea are simply stick-in-the-muds. They are resorting to the old politics of the past, looking for some kind of responsible action and even accountability. I say, forget the responsibility. Forget the national debt. Start up the printing presses. A trillion dollars, after all, will take a while to print. Let us act swiftly and boldly as the president suggested. I’m already thinking of just how I want to spend my $3,333.33.

I tell you one thing I won’t be doing with my stimulus money. I’m not going to fall into that trap of paying down any old debt. That’s for the birds. If the United States government can forget paying their bills, so can I. Uncle Sam will be my example.

I’m also not going to worry about saving any of it for a rainy day. This is just the beginning. I’m thinking that when this $3,333.33 runs out, we’ll just print some more. Once I get used to being stimulated, I don’t ever want it to stop. Happy days are here again.

So, what do you think about my idea? If you think there is merit in it, call or e-mail your congressman. Don’t write him or her. That takes too long. Just let them know that you’ve decided that now is not the time for thinking. It’s not the time for acting responsibly. It’s not the time for reducing the size of any bill. It’s stimulus time and I want my $3,333.33! Now!