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Commentary: Stimulus money must go where it's needed

This editorial appeared in The Kansas City Star.

Additional layoffs in Kansas City and around the country this week underscore the need for Congress to move quickly to strengthen the economy. The massive Democratic plan promises to do so in many ways, although improvements should be made in it before the Senate vote next week.

To prevent a downward economic spiral, Washington must focus on measures that can help immediately or in the very near future. Construction projects for five or 10 years down the road may well be good ideas, but they won't get today's economy out of the rut.

Tax cuts: About a third of the House-approved plan would go to tax cuts. That's a reasonable percentage, although Republicans wanted to see it higher.

Tax cuts can provide an economic boost fairly quickly – particularly when they go to people with low or modest incomes. These are the people who need the most help in a recession, and they are likely to promptly spend the money and stimulate the economy.

Some people will save the money from their tax cuts rather than spend it, but even saved dollars will give people more financial flexibililty and confidence in the future. That, too, can help.

Food stamps and unemployment benefits: On the spending side, the House bill would pump billions of additional dollars a year into food stamps and extended unemployment assistance.

Again, this serves a double purpose: helping Americans who need assistance the most, while ensuring that the money will quickly find its way back into the economy. This will support businesses, protect some jobs and create others.

To read the complete editorial, visit The Kansas City Star.

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