As I mentioned yesterday, stimulating the real economy must be one of Washington’s top priorities once the credit crunch begins to ease. The debate over how to do that is well underway. The Democratic Congressional leadership is preparing a stimulus package including increasing money for states and cities to replace their plummeting tax revenues, increased or extended unemployment benefits, increased food stamp aid, and public works (infrastructure) projects. All of these steps would have the effect of increasing spending by consumers and governments with the goal of dampening the recession, although public works projects could take months if not years to have an impact. One goal of the plan is to get money to people who are likely to spend it – hence the emphasis on lower-income people and cash-strapped local governments – to get it into the economy as quickly as possible.