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How to fix the entire U.S. economy faster -- and cheaper -- than Obama

April 23, 2009 |  1:48 am

There's a wondrously simple U.S. economic recovery plan bouncing its way all over the Internet this week to fix the recession, end unemployment, boost the banks, refinance the automobile industry and repair the housing crisis all in one bold stroke -- and at a fraction of the cost of the Obama administration's complex, grandiose and costly government spending plans.

Of course, this new idea plopping into and flashing out of thousands of excited e-mailboxes all over would never work politically because it wasn't designed in Washington like, say, the tax code and therefore is quite simple. Nor would it grow the size of the federal government, which would be unacceptable to many in the federal government.

Here's the idea and the math as devised by a devilishly clever, now anonymous Internet author:

Take the 40 million or so American workers over age 50 and give them each $1 million tax-free. Yup, just put that money into private hands. This seems like a wonderful idea to those whose hands are over age 50. But, of course, there's a catch. Three catches, actually.

1)  Everyone receiving $1 million must immediately quit their current job. Overnight, that opens up 40 million new positions, which takes care of unemployment and is something like 11 times better than the number of jobs the president has promised to create through government during the next couple of years.

2)  Everyone receiving $1 million would have to buy a new car, preferably American-made. Forty million new cars means an awful lot of jobs all across the nation's automobile industry and ....

... its suppliers. No car czar, bailouts or money rat holes necessary then. And GM could keep its own president if desired.

3)  Everyone receiving $1 million would have to pay off their home mortgage or buy a new house, thus pumping fresh lendable private funds back into the banks and spurring new home construction with all its accompanying new jobs in other sectors, not to mention those workers' renewed income taxes, which could help finance, say, healthcare reforms.

Even after those requirements, everyone over age 50 would still probably have several hundred thousand dollars left. Pressure on Social Security eased, maybe even reduce those payments so the government could cut young workers' withholding, give them more disposable income to spend and save.

American economy fixed. Total cost, according to this Internet formula, $40 billion, which seems like chump change in these first 100 days.

Alas, the Internet author forgot a few 0's. Total cost would actually be $40 trillion. But it sure was fun while it lasted. Pass it on anyway; the way Washington numbers are growing exponentially these days,  even that price tag could soon seem cheap.

 -- Andrew Malcolm

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