Detail of Obama signing stimulus billWith the passage of the $787 billion Obama-Democratic Congress stimulus bill, the die has been cast for America's economic future. This, the largest appropriations bill ever passed by Congress, is being variously criticized and applauded from all sides.

Down Goes the DowDown, down, down goes the Dow (and all the other stock indexes), and how much further the markets are likely to fall before the recession bottoms out is becoming an increasingly vexed question. The Dow is now well below 7,000 for the first time in 12 years, and bearish market analysts are now wondering: is Dow 5,000 a reasonable expectation? 4,000? Or lower still?

economy“The only way to fully restore America’s economic strength is to make long-term investments that will lead to new jobs, new industries, and a renewed ability to compete with the rest of the world,” said President Barack Obama in his Address to the Joint Session of Congress on Tuesday, February 24, 2009.

This remark by President Obama sounds like something a concerned American citizen who is struggling to keep his financial head above water might say. A “hurray” moment? Maybe not.

Senators and congressmen confer on stimulusITEM: The New York Times reported on January 28, 2009:

The stimulus bill ... is not just a package of spending increases and tax cuts intended to jolt the nation out of recession. For Democrats, it is also a tool for rewriting the social contract with the poor, the uninsured and the unemployed, in ways they have long yearned to do. With little notice and no public hearings, House Democrats would create a temporary new entitlement allowing workers getting unemployment checks to qualify for Medicaid....

AIGFor the fourth time in six months, the federal government is giving billions of taxpayer dollars to AIG, following the latter’s announcement of a $61.7 billion fourth quarter loss — this despite the massive bailout shoveled AIG’s way by the Bush administration last September. By the terms of this latest lifeline (“life support” would be a more apt metaphor, since the patient has been clinically dead for many months), the federal government is extending an additional $30 billion in loans to the former insurance giant and allowing more lax repayment terms on an additional $38 billion credit line from the Federal Reserve.