The news from Thursday’s Washington Post:
The Senate voted Wednesday to renew the government’s $8,000 tax credit for first-time home buyers through the first six months of next year as part of a broader bill designed to extend unemployment benefits.
For the first time, the tax credit program would also enable many homeowners who buy a new primary residence to receive a $6,500 refund.
The measure was attached to a bill that would provide 20 weeks of unemployment benefits in more than two dozen states with jobless rates above 8.5 percent and up to 14 weeks elsewhere. Another provision in the bill would allow businesses that had operating losses in 2008 and 2009 to seek refunds for taxes paid on profits over the past five years.
Why this legislation now? Because despite signs that the economy as a whole, as measured by GDP, is growing again, most American households are still feeling the pain of a very weak labor market which all economists expect will be unusually slow to recover this time around. Hence, the extension of unemployment benefits is easy to justify.
But what about the ...