Popular Mechanics has an article on the “stimulus” and how it can make the infrastructure problem worse: The latest bill gives only projects that are able to start construction within 90 days eligibility for funding from the $90 billion set aside for infrastructure.
Why Shovel-Ready Infrastructure is Wrong (Right Now)
The programs that would meet the bill’s 90-day restriction are, for the most part, an unappealing mix of projects that were either shelved after being fully designed and engineered, and have since become outmoded or irrelevant, or projects with limited scope and ambition. No one’s building a smart electric grid or revamping a water system on 90 days notice. The best example of a shovel-ready project, and what engineers believe could become the biggest recipient of the transportation-related portion of the bill’s funding, is road resurfacing—important maintenance work, but not a meaningful way to rein in a national infrastructure crisis.
To make things worse,
- The 90-day stipulation rules out projects already under construction.
- It provides no oversight, no analysis of how one infrastructure system could leave another vulnerable.
- The skilled labor needed for infrastructure work is not interchangeable and will not foster quick job growth.
“Stimulus”? More like duck tape.
Q and O’s post Long On Pork And Relief – Short On Stimulus And Jobs gives a condensed summary of 50 De-Stimulating Facts about the “stimulus” bill.
By the way, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the big deficits generated by the Obama stimulus plan would lower economic growth over the long run by increasing government debt, which would tend to “crowd out” private investment,
thus reducing the stock of private capital and the long-term potential output of the economy.
The negative effect of crowding out could be offset somewhat by a positive long-term effect on the economy of some provsions—such as funding for infrastructure spending, education programs, and investment incentives, which might increase economic output in the long run. CBO estimated that such provisions account for roughly one-quarter of the legislation’s budgetary cost. Including the effects of both crowding out of private investment (which would reduce output in the long run) and possibly productive government investment (which could increase output), CBO estimates that by 2019 the Senate legislation would reduce GDP by 0.1 percent to 0.3 percent on net.
Read all four articles, and ask yourself while reading them, can government spend the economy out of a recession?
The answer is no.
It’s the essential fraud of rushing through a bill in which the normal rules (committee hearings, finding revenue to pay for the programs) are suspended on the grounds that a national emergency requires an immediate job-creating stimulus — and then throwing into it hundreds of billions that have nothing to do with stimulus, that Congress’s own budget office says won’t be spent until 2011 and beyond, and that are little more than the back-scratching, special-interest, lobby-driven parochialism that Obama came to Washington to abolish. He said.
Not just to abolish but to create something new — a new politics where the moneyed pork-barreling and corrupt logrolling of the past would give way to a bottom-up, grass-roots participatory democracy. That is what made Obama so dazzling and new. Turns out the “fierce urgency of now” includes $150 million for livestock (and honeybee and farm-raised fish) insurance.