NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

MAYBE TOO LITTLE, ALWAYS TOO LATE

January 24, 2008

The history of anti-recession efforts is that they are almost always initiated too late to do any good.  Recession timelines from the National Bureau of Economic Research show the enactment of stimulus plans is a fairly accurate indicator that we have hit the bottom of the business cycle, meaning the economy will improve even if the government does nothing, says Bruce Bartlett, former deputy assistant secretary of the Treasury for economic policy.

For example, consider the following dates of recession and the antirecession programs (date of enactment in parenthesis) which followed:

  • November 1948 -- October 1949; Advance Planning for Public Works Act (Oct. 13, 1949).
  • August 1957 -- April 1958; Federal Aid Highway Act (April 16, 1958); River and Harbor Act, Flood Control Act and Water Supply Act (July 3, 1958)
  • April 1960 -- February 1961; Public Works Acceleration Act (Sept. 14, 1962).
  • December 1969 -- November 1970; Public Works and Economic Development Act Amendments (Aug. 5, 1971).
  • November 1973 -- March 1975; Tax Reduction Act (March 29, 1975); Public Works Employment Act (July 22, 1976); Local Public Works Capital Development and Investment Act (May 13, 1977).
  • July 1981 -- November 1982; Surface Transportation Assistance Act (Jan. 6, 1983); Emergency Jobs Appropriations Act (March 24, 1983).
  • July 1990 -- March 1991; Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (Dec. 18, 1991); Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act (April 23, 1993).
  • March 2001 -- November 2001; Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act (June 7, 2001).

Source: Bruce Bartlett, "Maybe Too Little, Always Too Late," New York Times, January 23, 2008.

For text:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/23/opinion/23bartlett.html 

 

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