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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

So far the Stimulus Bill looks like a major disappointment

Change may have happened at the top, but both the lower and upper houses of our Congress still suck. If you peruse The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 you will see many pork projects brought to you by House Democrats and a huge amount of the bill dedicated to tax cuts, brought to you primarily by Republicans, who year after year fail to provide any ideas for our economy beyond tax cutting. According to Talking Points Memo, the Senate draft looks even more disappointing.

Here is brief summary of my problems with the House Stimulus Bill:

  • Too much pork!! Way too much going towards pork projects and programs that have nothing to do with economic stimulus (billions for student financial aid, energy assistance for seniors, and a number of pork projects like the $200 million revitalization of the National Mall)
  • Too much (approx. $300 billion) going towards tax cuts or credits, most of which will not creates jobs or stimulate the economy
  • Far too little going towards rail and public transportation projects (only $10 billion) and a disproportionate amount going towards highways ($30 billion)
  • Only $18.5 billion going towards the DOE's energy efficiency and renewable energy projects
Okay okay, so are there any good parts to the House Bill? Sure. Energy wise, despite such a small portion of the bill going to the DOE and renewable energy, there are some good projects that will advance our clean energy economy, and even help clean up our producers of dirty energy. Here are the highlights
  • $8 billion for the DOE's Innovative Technology Loan Guarantee Program
  • $4.5 billion for modernization of our electricity grid (smart grid!)
  • $2.4 billion for Carbon Capture and Sequestration demonstration
  • $2 billion for the DOE's Advanced Research Projects
  • $1 billion for the Advanced Battery Loan Guarantee Program
  • $600 million for Plug-ins and Hybrid vehicles for the Federal Government's Vehicle Fleet
  • $600 million for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's climate sensors and climate modeling technology
  • $350 million for the R&D and evaluation for improvements in energy generation, transmission, regulation, use, and storage, for military installations, military vehicles, and other military equipment (An energy independent Military?)
Total for energy related projects: $20.7 billion

Sunlight Labs extracted the appropriations from the bill into a spreadsheet, where you can view the stimulus funds appropriated to each department. They were baffled that they were only able to find $356.4 billion in appropriations within the text of the bill. Where is the other $475 billion? Well, $300 billion of it is going towards tax cuts for individuals and businesses. I think some tax cuts for small businesses makes a lot of sense, but additional tax cuts or tax rebates for individuals? Last year's tax rebate showed that the any positive impacts due to the fiscal stimulus checks were both minimal and temporary, and now we are going to try to tax cut our way to prosperity again? We need to start building things again!

***Please note that Obama has stated to House Republicans that he "had no pride in authorship of the current bill. " THANK GOD Obama isn't as clueless as some of the idiot House Democrats. Good god - don't these people realize that it is time for change instead of the same old bullshit in our politics and legislation?!

Obama could bring us this stimulus package, the first major piece of legislation during his presidency, in two ways. He could pull a George W. Bush and simply rubber stamp a bill produced by his own party. The other option is to do the right thing. He could make both parties put country first by working together to draft a bi-partisan bill that will create jobs, improve our infrastructure, and put us on the road to energy independence. That is the kind of change we need! If Obama wants to turn this stinker around, and improve his already high approval rating, he will do something audacious. He will veto this dog shit of a bill when it gets passed in both the House and Senate. He will piss off the members of his own party by demanding that they remove the funding for the pork projects, and he will ask them to replace some of the tax rebates /cuts with tax cuts for small businesses, which will show some love to the Republicans.

NOTE: Pennsylvania is slated to receive $22.07 billion of the stimulus money, with a little over $2.3 billion going towards the state budget shortfall. I would bet that Governor Rendell makes sure that the North Shore Connector gets that $120 million it needs in order to be completed.

The Washington Post has a good story on the Democrats who oppose the stimulus plan as is.


Brandon said...

I have to say you hit the nail dead on the head with your line of "a huge amount of the bill dedicated to tax cuts, brought to you primarily by Republicans, who year after year fail to provide any ideas for our economy beyond tax cutting." I couldn't agree more.

Matt H said...

Good post Schultz.

illyrias said...

Agreed. This bill is a huge disappointment. It was sold to people as the biggest investment in our nation's highway infrastructure since the 1950s and now only 5% of the bill is going to that infrastructure.

Schultz said...

Having 3x more money going towards highways than rail is disappointing, but I would rather have the money spent on highways than some of the other junk in that bill - because building and fixing infrastructure like roads and bridges will put people to work. The bill, in it's current form, isn't going to come close to creating the millions of jobs it is supposed to. Building things is what will put people to work, and we have enough potential projects around this country that we could spend $1 trillion alone on just infrastructure. I doubt that the total infrastructure spending in this bill even comes close to $100 billion.

Jermaine said...

Well said. Any chance he'll (Obama) will veto "this dog shit of a bill" as you so eloquently put it in order to make sure it's re-written in a manner that actually helps "STIMULATE" the economy?

p.s. Why do Republicans love tax-cuts so much? What does that stimulate???

Schultz said...

Republicans love tax cuts so much because they are in love with Ronald Reagan and think that he and his Reaganomics are the greatest thing since sliced bread. Well, tax cuts made sense when the top marginal tax rates were 90% and 70%, ridiculously high, but now you have so many loopholes in our tax code that the wealthiest Americans are paying a lower effective tax rate than your typical middle class American.

Look - before I started making an effort to become an informed citizen, I thought tax cuts as economic policy was great too. Cut taxes! Yeah! And when you think about how these idiots in Congress are spending your hard earned money (see the list above), then yeah, I see how some people would want to keep their money too. But if we have good government, then our tax dollars will go towards the things that I am happy to pay for - health care, public transportation, national defense, highways & infrastructure, etc. Right now it is obvious that our government sucks - or at least Congress sucks (see Change-Congress.org. As I said above this bill was not authored by Obama, so I still have hope that Obama can rein them in and show all the doubters that he has the political genius of his role model, Lincoln, by turning this stinker into legislation that puts people to work and our economy back on track.

Maria said...

A couple of points:

1) While I think infrastructure and green projects are sorely needed, 46% of the workforce are women and these types of jobs do not go to women:

The bulk of the stimulus program will provide jobs for men, because building projects generate jobs in construction, where women make up only 9 percent of the work force.

It turns out that green jobs are almost entirely male as well, especially in the alternative energy area. A broad study by the United States Conference of Mayors found that half the projected new jobs in any green area are in engineering, a field that is only 12 percent female, or in the heavily male professions of law and consulting; the rest are in such traditional male areas as manufacturing, agriculture and forestry. And like companies that build roads, alternative energy firms also employ construction workers and engineers.

This same mistake was made during FDR's time, but there are even more women in the workforce now.

Thankfully, there is money in the package that goes to education and healthcare and that will have more of an impact on women's employment.

2) Some of the stimulus package is obviously going to help out cash-strapped state governments and that is where "billions of dollars going for student financial aid, or for seniors heating assistance, or the countless of other programs in the bill" comes in.

Jermaine said...

Schultz, its responses like your last one that keep me coming back. While I may not always agree 100% with what you say, I respect your opinion and the way you present the issue. I enjoy your writing, keep up the good work and continue trying to spread the good word!