How to Spend Six Trillion Dollars of Magically Materialized Money

If you’re going to spend money you don’t have, you’d better spend it to create things with genuine value. This is the choice facing Americans today. Estimates of how much the federal deficit will grow in response to the pandemic shutdown range as high as six trillion. So how should we spend such a stupendous sum of money?

The last time a huge sum of stimulus money was pumped into the U.S. economy, back in 2009, skeptics were told the money was going to fund “shovel ready” infrastructure projects. President Trump has repeatedly criticized the 2009 stimulus, stating it wasn’t used for infrastructure.

A “Fact Check” written in 2017 by NPR reporter Danielle Kurtzleben made a feeble attempt to debunk Trump’s claim, saying Trump was “mostly wrong” about this. Funny though, the facts cited in Kurtzleben’s own article demonstrate that Trump was “mostly right.” Of the $800 billion stimulus spending, only $81 billion, barely 10 percent, was used for infrastructure.

One may argue that any money going into the economy, for anything, has at least a short-term value, and is necessary in a crisis. That’s obviously true, and this time around, a lot of stimulus money is going to go to be used to provide short term but very necessary relief to households and businesses that would otherwise go under. But what about long-term value?

Usually lost in the debate over just how long the United States can continue to materialize dollars out of thin air is that […] Read More