The Clark Economic Proposal

Yesterday Clark issued his economic plan. Here’s an excerpted synopsis from the NYTimes:

General Clark, who is retired from the Army, said he would devote $100 billion over two years to three programs, which he said would not expand the federal deficit because he would repeal President Bush’s tax cuts for people earning more than $200,000 a year.

…He said he would invest $40 billion over two years to create jobs that improve domestic security, including in the Coast Guard and Customs Service, as well as construction projects to strengthen bridges and tunnels that might be subject to terrorist attacks.

He would give $40 billion over two years to the states to ease cuts in health and education programs. And he would provide $20 billion over two years in tax incentives to businesses to create jobs, giving them a $5,000 tax credit for each employee they hire.

In my opinion, there are some good bits and some bad bits here. The good bits are the things that he wants to spend money on — they’ll definitely help the US economy over a period of 1-2 years. The financial aid to states would be particularly helpful, I think; I don’t have expertise on the effects that the hiring tax credit might have, but it sounds like a pretty good immediate stimulus.

The bad bits are the things that the plan doesn’t address. It doesn’t do anything to help balance the US budget over the long haul, something that doesn’t need to happen next year, but definitely needs to happen over the next 3-5 years. Also, some of Bush’s tax cuts really need to go, in my opinion. The top of the list is the estate tax – for social, economic, and moral reasons I think that any decent Democratic plan should end its gradual repeal. Also, there should probably be some contingency attached to his proposal — he doesn’t need to try to boost the economy if the economy is already doing well, which it might be by January 2005.

One bit of unfair criticism that his plan has received: it’s similar to other Democrats’ proposals. I don’t care where the Democratic nominee got his plan from, as long as its a good plan.