Was Obama smart to give Social Security recipients a $250 check? Politically perhaps -- nobody needs to be reminded how often seniors vote -- but from an economics stimulus perspective it was a drop in the wrong bucket, according to David Leonhardt. His logic is simple and, I think, correct.
The buying power of Social Security checks could increase with next year's deflation even without the extra $250. Moreover, to stimulate the consumer economy, you want to put money in the hands of the people most likely to spend their next marginal dollar, and unemployed people are most desperate for cash. Using that $14 billion on extending unemployed benefits (something Congress is debating) would almost certainly be best idea for stimulating the consumer economy as it emerges from the slog.