You've got to be kidding

So, the outlines of the vaunted "stimulus package" (don't you love how DC Beltway lingo finds its way into everyday journalism?) are starting to become clear.  As was the case in 2001, it's looking like tax rebates of $300 per person, $600 per couple, just like 2001 — although this time, families with kids could end up with as much as $1200.

$300 per person did nothing to goose the economy in 2001, and it'll do even less now.  Using the Minneapolis Fed's handy-dandy inflation calculator, just equaling that figure adjusted for inflation would take $350.  And God only knows what it would be if the inflation numbers weren't doctored; the fearless John Williams says if CPI were calculated the way it was back in Jimmy Carter's day it would be close to 12% (scroll down) — not the official 4.1%.

No doubt the issue will come up at the next-to-last Republican debate tonight in Florida.  I sure hope Ron Paul doesn't go off on a Fed-bashing tangent (not that the Fed doesn't deserve it).  I hope instead he addresses the matter head-on and says that tax cuts mean nothing if there aren't spending cuts to match, and that's been the lesson of the last seven years.  Without the spending cuts, the long-term result is just more government debt, more economic pain, a never-ending cycle of more of the problems that got us into this mess in the first place, and that only one candidate on the stage is serious about cutting federal spending, indeed the elimination of entire government agencies.

Paul is among the many luminaries (running the gamut from Warren Buffett to Robert Rubin) featured in our documentary, I.O.U.S.A., which debuted last weekend at the Sundance Film Festival, to considerable acclaim.  Check out some of the early plaudits here.

Update:  Looks as if it'll be $600 per person, actually — at least for those who pay income taxes.  Those who don't, $300.  It still won't goose the economy.  Heck, for many people it won't even cover a month's mortgage payment. 

The Daily Reckoning