I am getting a first hand sense of what the coming "economic stimulus" package is going to be. In short, nothing but a hand out to municipalities around the country.
In my role as city councilman here in Macon, I received a letter from the local congressman about the economic stimulus package that gives away the game. You can read the letter here [2.4 MB PDF].
Here's the highlight:
As you know, Congress and the Obama Transition Team are currently contemplating a massive economic recovery stimulus bill to help jumpstart our economy. Although negotiations are in a constant state of flux, I expect this bill will create funding opportunities for local projects. In further expect emphasis will be placed on projects that are 1) ready to go immediately and 2) otherwise eligible for federal funding through existing federal agencies and programs such as Federal Transit Administration road, bridge, sidewalk and park projects or STAG water and wastewater infrastructure projects . . . . Enclosed is an excerpt of projects the United States Conference of Mayors has recommended.
The letter then includes a lengthy attachment with all sorts of projects the United States Conference of Mayors wants funded as part of the "economic stimulus."
As explained to members of City Council by someone in the mayor's office:
To help us bring in a prosperous New Year, Washington is offering Macon the chance to recommend local public works projects for consideration under the proposed economic stimulus bill we've been hearing about in the news. . . .The point - and opportunity - is to get local workers drawing paychecks ASAP.
That's it then. We will return to the New Deal and the Works Progress Administration. Among the things the Conference of Mayors wants out of the economic stimulus package is $120,000,000.00 for road resurfacing in Atlanta; $210,000.00 for a citywide asset inventory in College Park, GA; $142,600.00 for "community outreach officers" in Marietta, GA; $1,062,500 for new signage in Savannah so people can "engage in a pedestrian experience"; and $1,139,693.00 for new cabinets and countertops and a central HVAC system at Patterson Terrace in Savannah, GA.
This is an economic stimulus?