In a daring move, the US government has decided to give you your money back.
Official announcements of President Bush’s new economic package describe the proposed rebates as a way to jump-start a lagging economy.
Potential recipients have a different take.
“This is no different than going to a store and asking for a refund because the item you purchased is defective,” says one. “Congress hasn’t worked properly for years. Why shouldn’t we get our money back?”
Policy makers are quick to refute that point of view, noting that only lobbyists can actually buy Congress, and therefore ordinary taxpayers have no legal claim to a refund.
Economists say both arguments are moot, since the money is an advance payment, not a true refund. According to experts, that means Americans will get less cash back when filing next year’s tax return. The common terminology for this sleight-of-hand maneuver is “robbing Peter to pay Paul.”
“We prefer to think of it as good politics,” says a top Congressional aide. “The checks will go out as soon as we can borrow the funds from China.”