Bush tax break; Wedding photos gone bad...

Behind The News
January 18, 2008 1:07:33 PM PST
What's the average person to think, let alone do, about the economy? The stock market has dropped more than 1,100 points since the first of the year - and plunging through the 12,000 marks seems like a real possibility pretty soon. Credit is tight, foreclosures are up, job growth during this decade sometimes hasn't kept up with population growth, and consumer confidence is shaky at best. The solution?

Tax breaks.

At least that's what the President is saying.

Mr. Bush today unveiled a $145 billion -- give or take a few bil -- economic stimulation package. Most of it is tax rebates - initial guesstimates are about $800 per person, or $1,600 per household.

And I'm sure everyone's thinking, hey, I could use $800. Well of course we could. But use it for what?

I went to school in economics and accounting, although it's admittedly been a while, and by a while I mean at least 35 years. So maybe I'm missing something. But back then the theories on how to goose the economy involved much more than handing a few hundred dollars back to taxpayers.

Government spending, adjusting the supply of money, tinkering with interest rates, and cutting or raising taxes -- all were ingredients in the area of fiscal and monetary policy.

And what about the huge tax cuts Pres. Bush already initiated - cuts that disproportionately benefited the wealthy? The strange thing about arguing about policy is that you can argue it both ways. Some would say the tax cuts only put more money in the hands of the rich - and did not stimulate the economy but only added to the huge deficit. Others would argue that had it not been for the tax cuts, the economy would be in worse shape than it already is.

Who's to say? Which is why the debate over whether tax cuts help the economy will continue.

Tonight at 11, we'll have the latest information on the proposed plan by the President, reaction to it, and some advice about the best things you can do with the money you might get back.

Also at 11, we're following a developing story about a New York Police Dept. Sergeant who has been arrested for allegedly running license plate numbers for a drug dealer. The plate numbers, reportedly, belonged to undercover cops.

And Tappy Phillips tonight has the story of brides, grooms and freelance photographers - hundreds of them - who are out tens of thousands of dollars after one of New Jersey's biggest wedding photo businesses closed its doors. What to do? They called Tappy and got 7 On Your Side.

And Kemberly Richardson is in Green Bay for us tonight, with more color and fan reaction to this Sunday's NFC Championship game between the Giants and the Packers.

Oh - and one other note about politics. Mayor Bloomberg, who still insists he's not running for President, is in Texas today and California tomorrow. Today he met with the former Presidential campaign manager for H. Ross Perot, whose unsuccessful third party candidacy in 1992 arguably led to the election of Bill Clinton over then-President George Bush. The man Bloomberg met with is an expert in third-party ballot access.

I'm just sayin.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Jeff Smith (in for Lee Goldberg) with the weekend AccuWeather forecast, and Marvell Scott (in for Scott Clark, who's headed to Green Bay) with the night's sports. I hope you can join Liz Cho and me, tonight at 11, right after 20/20.

Bill Ritter