President Obama's $250 check for seniors: A payment with 2010 in mind


Roughly 300 days in to his presidency, President Barack Obama, who campaigned that he would be the nation's first "post-partisan" president of the modern era, has lately exhibited decidedly partisan economic habits.

Case in point: Obama's current proposal to send a second $250 check to every Social Security recipient, disabled veteran, railroad retirement recipient, and citizen who receives a federal and state pension instead of Social Security; the measure would cost about $14 billion. At first glance, the idea has merit: It would serve as an additional stimulus to keep economic momentum headed in the right direction. Aided in part by the fiscal stimulus package passed earlier this year, the U.S. economy started to recover in the third quarter, most economists agree, and putting more money into the hands of consumers will increase aggregate demand in an economy that needs all the demand it can get.

There are two problems. First, from a GDP-impact standpoint, allocating money to senior citizens is not the most effective use of stimulus dollars. Second, the act has more than a tinge of partisan politics associated with it.