The idea for this episode came from George W. Bush announcing that he would give all Americans a tax refund in 2001. If you filed as a 'single' you got $300, single parents got $500 and married parents got $600. Checks were mailed out over July-September and the idea was that people would spend the money, thereby boosting economic growth. However, with the 9/11 attacks and subsequent war in Iraq, it would appear the government would have been better off keeping the $1.3 trillion that was distributed.
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