Federal gift cards are one gift that could keep giving


Marketwatch.com Chief Economist Irwin Kellner sometimes boldly goes where no man has gone before, to cite an old Star Trek phrase, and a few months back Kellner recommended something that seemed truly over-the-top: a $3,000 federal gift card for everyone over age 16.

Today, however, I'm not sure it's so outlandish. Back in January, Kellner argued that a better way to stimulate the economy than a near-$800 billion fiscal stimulus bill would be a direct cash infusion to the people, via debit cards, which he called "federal gift cards." The money from them could only be used to pay down debt or to make purchases, not saved. Kellner's estimated cost for the program: $705 billion for 235 million people.