Over the past week, all eyes have been on Washington as the near $800 billion economic stimulus plan worked its way through both chambers of Congress.
The Collegian set out to find out how CSU students feel about this massive spending bill.
Shabda Gyawali, a senior exchange student from Nepal majoring in economics, and Chad Bohac, a junior environmental health student, were kind enough to chat with us and share their thoughts.
Shabda Gyawali, senior economics major
Q: How do you feel about the stimulus plan that’s been proposed?
A: … There is something to be done for the economy, but this is not the right approach to go, because if you look at the bill, you see that the people are talking about building bridges, and there are tax cuts and other stuff, but the majority of the construction workers which produce immediate jobs are not going to even start. Most will start in 2010. … What we need right now is confidence in investors — something needs to be done immediately.
Q: Do you think there is an alternative the government could put forth, in terms of spending money, or do they need a different approach?
A: We have to think … this financial crisis is not U.S.-based but the whole global-based. You can’t say China is manipulating the currency when you’re trying to borrow money from China.
Q: Do you think there is anything globally that can be done, or is there no way the government can intervene?
A: I think globally it can be done. I think the G7 meeting (was) held in Rome, but I think it’s just a proposal of having a ‘Buy American’ clause in the bill — people are saying buy steel and metals which are made in the United States – this is going to send a wrong signal to the other countries. I think there should be a global coordination. Something bigger than International Monetary Fund (needs to be created) or the IMF needs to be restructured and there will be a solution. In the short term it’s not the stimulus package that is going to help the economy, it’s more confidence in investors and in the credit market.
Q: It seems a lot of the confidence of investors was lost during the Bush administration. What steps can the Obama administration take to signal that it will be a better time for investors?
A: I think the Obama administration needs to come out with the details of what they’re going to do. I think that’s one of the steps to build confidence. It’s not, just the United States, its the entire world waiting. … If you come out with a plan then everyone will know how to think or how to have their future policy working.
Chad Bohac, junior environmental health major
Q: So what would you say your feelings are about the stimulus plan?
A: Generally, I hope it will do good things. I think it has the potential, but I don’t like the fact that giving a lot of money to companies that failed. Especially like the banks, they lent out money to people they shouldn’t have lent to. It’s causing a lot of troubles down the line now, and I don’t think that we should put a Band-Aid on the situation, especially with the big three auto companies. I don’t think we should have bailed them out. It’s just that they didn’t evolve, basically, to the market, so why should we give them our money so they can keep on making crappy cars?
Q: Do you trust the Obama administration more than the Bush administration?
A: Do I trust them more? That’s a good question. I trust them, they are doing what they believe is right, but I’m not sure if it will be right for the country. So, I trust their motives.
Q: A lot of people have said that they may not like the stimulus plan but to do nothing is worse. What would your thinking be on that line of reasoning, should we just do something?
A: Honestly I don’t know. I’m not an economist so I don’t know how it would affect the economy. I’ve heard different analogies of it. I’ve heard people have said that this stimulus plan is just like taking out water from one side of the lake and pouring it into another side of the lake and saying that it’s more full. Again, I don’t know the knowledge behind that theory. Generally, if this creates jobs that are needed in the country, I think it’s good, but if it uses money wastefully, it is bad. If it creates jobs centered around renewable energy, I think that’s good that’s one direction our country needs to go. I guess, answering your question, I think it’s good to do something about it, instead of nothing.
Q: One area the Obama administration has targeted in the stimulus is higher education. Do you think the government should be doing more to aid our universities or anything particular in that area?
A: I’m conflicted, because it would help students. These are tough questions. I don’t think any more needs to be done about funding higher education. I think a lot more scholarships could be offered, and then the students that really work hard could earn those scholarships, but in terms of maybe offsetting the costs or something like that of higher education, I don’t think that’s necessary.
Columnist Ian Bezek can be reached at email@example.com.