The US financial crisis has become so severe -- domestic stock markets have plunged nearly ten percent since the start of the year -- that the president seems to have taken notice. So, after spending $4,100 per household so far on the invasion and occupation of Iraq, he is on the verge of giving over one-third of it back. How beneficent.
But where will this money come from? After all, the US government already owes $9.2 trillion, up from $5.7 trillion in 2000 -- a rise of 61% in just over seven years. The proportion of this debt held by foreigners is approaching fifty percent, with nearly half of that held by two countries: Japan and China. If these countries overcome their increasing reluctance to accept Treasury paper denominated in ever-weaker dollars, they would be the parties to whom Bush turns to prop up the national economy.
So I propose we cut out the middle man, and have the Asian Development Bank issue checks to American citizens directly. That way, we all would know who bailed us out and to whom we must return the money when (or if) we're on better footing.
Why the current government cares about the state of the American economy now is somewhat of a mystery. Fiscal, tax and monetary policy for years have been driving us to this moment of reckoning, so it can not come as a surprise. Plus, with only a year remaining in office and approval ratings securely in the doldrums, popularity for the Bush administration must not be much of a concern. There is also a dim prospect of the next president being a Republican no matter what happens over the next few months.
Ulimately, the "stimulus package" that we citizens are going to get is due to a nefarious bipartisanship: If the economy becomes too rocky in an election year, the two major parties that have controlled government for as long as anyone can remember may have to answer some real questions and propose some real solutions. And that is something they can not abide. But they can always provide a quick fix now and work out a payment plan with the Chinese later.