QUOTE OF THE DAY…. A few months ago, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi argued, correctly, that unemployment benefits are good for the economy. As she explained it, the money is “spent quickly,” which in turn “injects demand into the economy,” making the benefits “job creating.”
The right found this ridiculous. High-profile right-wing bloggers characterized the remarks as “laughable” and “lunacy.” A Fox & Friends co-host said she didn’t understand the “logic” of the argument. The publisher of the conservative Las Vegas Review-Journal said anyone with “half a brain” would disagree with Pelosi.
And anyone with a whole brain would agree. The evidence was clear that Pelosi was right and her detractors were wrong.
Similarly, the right is hostile to food stamps, for all the same reasons. Pelosi said yesterday that food stamps offer “the biggest bang for the buck” in terms of economic stimulus, leading disgraced former House Speaker turned media darling Newt Gingrich to concede on Fox News that he’s confused.
“Well, you know, I carry around a bumper sticker that says 2 plus 2 equals 4. So I’d be very curious how a dollar given to somebody becomes a $1.79. And I think if we could get that to work with the U.S. Treasuries, so if people gave the Treasury $1,000, it became $1,790, we could pay off the federal debt and never worry about spending or anything. I mean, I — you know, somehow, I don’t understand how liberal math turns $1 into $1.79.”
Gingrich deserves some credit, I suppose, for acknowledging his own confusion, and expressing “curiosity” about the facts. He doesn’t deserve credit, though, for being so ignorant about a subject even Gingrich should be able to understand.
Money from the program — officially known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — percolates quickly through the economy. The U.S. Department of Agriculture calculates that for every $5 of food-stamp spending, there is $9.20 of total economic activity, as grocers and farmers pay their employees and suppliers, who in turn shop and pay their bills.
While other stimulus money has been slow to circulate, the food-stamp boost is almost immediate, with 80% of the benefits being redeemed within two weeks of receipt and 97% within a month, the USDA says.
Indeed, food stamps aren’t just stimulative, they’re the single most effective form of stimulus in the governmental arsenal.
Taken together, Gingrich’s problem isn’t with “liberal math,” it’s with reality.