In the world of fiscal policy, you could have left the planet for a year and not missed a beat. Charles Wallace, of AOL's Daily Finance column, quotes his interview with me as follows:
But Andrew Samwick, a professor of economics at Dartmouth College, says the proposed stimulus of about $80 billion is too small to do much good. He adds that unemployment benefits aren't the most efficient way to stimulate the economy.
"You're giving them money, but they're not giving you anything in return," Samwick says, rejecting the argument that unemployment benefits are usually spent immediately and thereby sustain the economy. "There's no virtue in spending money -- the government could do that directly," he says.
Samwick says he'd like the government to commit to a long-term spending plan costing hundreds of billions or even trillions of dollars to address the country's infrastructure needs, such as developing a smart grid for electricity distribution.
"All of those things use material that has to be produced, which means it creates jobs, or it creates new opportunities for people, where it creates employment as well," Samwick says. "Why is that not better than just giving the money to the states to compensate them for their own budget challenges or the unemployed?"