A toast to the beer stimulus

Beer became legal 75 years ago today, after 13 years of Prohibition, says Maureen Ogle in the Los Angeles Times, reopening “the spigot on a significant source of both jobs and revenue.” Formal repeal of Prohibition came eight months later, but the legalization of beer was one of FDR’s first acts in office, and its success helped pave the way for his New Deal. While many of his “bold” New Deal proposals bred a “stew of unease,” the beer bill brought the “comfort” of “immediate, predictable, and positive” results: “jobs and tax revenues.” Beer alone didn’t “undo the economic disaster or heal the nation’s spiritual malaise” from the Great Depression, but it sure helped.

The homebuilder bailout bill

A bipartisan Senate package aspires to give the “battered housing market a boost,” says John M. Berry in Bloomberg. But its “misguided” proposals, including $25 billion to prop up homebuilders, are certainly not the “keys to handling the housing crisis.” The bill has some items “that might help more than they hurt,” but they are “chicken feed” compared to the homebuilder “bailout,” which will prolong the “needed industry shakeout” while doing “precious little to prevent layoffs.” Two other main proposals—a $7,000 credit to buy a house in foreclosure and a $1,000 property tax deduction—could also easily have the “perverse” result of prolonging the crisis.