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Archive for Saturday, January 31, 2009

Analysis: Stimulus bill not all about stimulating jobs

January 31, 2009

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— They call it “stimulus” legislation, but the economic measures racing through Congress would devote tens of billions of dollars to causes that have little to do with jolting the country out of recession.

There’s $345 million for Agriculture Department computers, $650 million for TV converter boxes, $15 billion for college scholarships — worthy, perhaps, but not likely to put many Americans back to work quickly.

Yes, there are many billions of dollars in “ready-to-go” job-creating projects in President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus bill. But there are also plenty of items that are just unfinished business for Congress’ old bulls.

An $800 billion-plus package, it turns out, gives lawmakers plenty of opportunities to rid themselves of nagging headaches left over from the days when running up the government’s $10 trillion-plus debt was a bigger concern.

There’s $1 billion to deal with Census problems and $88 million to help move the Public Health Service into a new building next year. The Senate would devote $2.1 billion to pay off a looming shortfall in public housing accounts, $870 million to combat the flu and $400 million to slow the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases such as chlamydia.

“I have communicated to the administration that there are parts of this package that don’t meet the test that they themselves established of temporary, timely and targeted,” said Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, D-N.D. He wants Obama to weigh in to knock out the clunkers during House-Senate negotiations.

But nothing is in the legislation by accident. By including in the Senate stimulus bill such far-ranging ideas as $40 million to convert the way health statistics are collected — from paper to an electronic system — lawmakers are able to thin out their in-boxes, even if they aren’t doing much to create jobs.

There’s also $380 million in the Senate bill for a rainy day fund for the Women, Infants and Children program that delivers healthful food to the poor. WIC got the equivalent of a $1 billion infusion last fall.

At the same time, putting items in the stimulus bill that really should be handled in annual appropriations bills creates more room in the latter for pet projects and other programs.

It creates “headroom,” a top Senate GOP budget aide said, for things senators didn’t have room for in the regular process but still want to do.

Some lawmakers are sounding warnings.

“I suggested ... less spending and especially less spending for those items that are not stimulus and should be funded through the regular appropriations process,” said Rep. Jerry Lewis of California, top Republican on the Appropriations Committee.

Part of the reason so much nonstimulus spending has made it into the stimulus bill is that there are only so many traditional jobs-heavy public works projects that can get started quickly. As it is, most of the money in the bill for road building, water projects and mass transit probably won’t be spent until the economy has turned around.

Comments

Godot 5 years, 11 months ago

"There is no disagreement that we need action by our government, a recovery plan that will help to jumpstart the economy. — PRESIDENT-ELECT BARACK OBAMA, JANUARY 9 , 2009""With all due respect Mr.President,that is not true.Notwithstanding reports that all economists are now Keynesians and that we all support a big increase in the burden of government, we the undersigned do not believe that more government spending is a way to improve economic performance.More government spending by Hoover and Roosevelt did not pull the United States economy out of the Great Depression in the 1930s. More government spending did not solve Japan’s “lost decade” in the 1990s. As such, it is a triumph of hope overexperience to believe that more government spending will help the U.S. today. To improve the economy, policymakers shouldfocus on reforms that remove impediments to work, saving, investment and production. Lower tax rates and a reduction in the burden of government are the best ways of using fiscal policy to boost growth."PA I D F O R B Y T H E CAT O I N S T I T U T E , WWW. CAT O . O R GGo here to view the over 300 economists who support the above statement.The problem with these logical, fact based arguments against the boondoggle pork filled stimulus plan is that it has nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with stimulating the economy. The purpose of the largest spending bill in the history of the world is to boost Obama's power by paying back all the pork feeders that supported Obama for president and making state and local governments dependent upon "grants" from Obama that will, no doubt, be laden with strings and restrictions related to social engineering. The states and cities that become beholden to this stimulus giver will lose their already shaky autonomy. Big Brother will be the giver and taker of all.http://www.cato.org/special/stimulus09/cato_stimulus.pdf

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