Shortly after his Jan. 20 inauguration, if all goes according to plan, President Barack Obama will submit an economic stimulus plan to Congress. The plan will be of such historic proportions that the media will compare it incessantly to the New Deal; it will probably come with an eye-popping price tag of more than $500 billion; free-market ideologues will wail about the end of capitalism but will be almost powerless to stop it; Congress will jockey to lard it with pet projects as the price of approval.
And like the New Deal, Obama's stimulus plan will almost certainly fail to pull the economy out of a historic free-fall. For one, the plan is inadequate. Two, it will be drafted and overseen by Obama's economic "dream team," who are committed to the failed ideology that got us into this mess. Three, there's the matter of the still-festering financial crisis. And four, there has been no national debate over economic priorities such as who controls the economy, how production should be structured and what should be produced.
Because of these factors, the stimulus plan will be designed to benefit specific industrial and financial sectors, not the public. If the downturn proves vicious and long-lived, the government will have to introduce even more dramatic economic programs and policies, just like during the Great Depression.
The silver lining is that a failed stimulus will open up organizing opportunities around socializing wealth, such as universal singlepayer healthcare or subsidized housing; expanding the notion of what is a public utility, such as banking or energy; and rethinking how production is structured, a process that is already happening with the automobile industry bailout plan.."
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