Like a lot of other curiosity seekers, I followed the link to the draft Stimulus Bill to see what was really being considered. I share Representative Boehner’s exclamation– “Oh My God.” How is any of this being seriously considered by our elected officials?
Wading past details of additional layers of administration, auditing oversight and website designs for hundreds of millions of dollars, you find a mind-altering array of massive construction and infrastructure projects: $2.8 billion for rural broadband; $250 million for renovation of Agiculture Research Facilities; $400 Million in Research and Development facilities for NASA; $22 Billion for rural loan programs and $5.3 Billion more for rural development programs; $140 Million for climate data modeling and $18.5 Billion for energy efficiency and renewable energy research.
But what concerns me the most is the notion that half of all of this is to be put in place “within 120 days” after the law is passed. How is this possible?? There aren’t armies of construction workers, auditors, economic development experts, energy efficiency and climate modeling experts sitting around idle–the ones that know what they’re doing already have jobs and are employed, along with the 93% of us with jobs. Rounding up others that are unemployed from the assembly lines at GM and Chrysler to do the work will take time to retrain and redeploy them…certainly more than 120 days.
When the US military went into Iraq and began the massive job of restoring the country’s infrastructure while at the same time fighting the enemy, the opponents on the left decried the huge amount of ‘no bid contracts’ and lack of oversight that was ‘enriching the fat cat friends of Bush.’ When the federal government attempted to rapidly restore essential roads and infrastructure to the areas hit by Katrina, there was loud criticism again of the waste and lack of control of the funds.
When the war in Iraq was underway, the Democrats kept an unending criticism of its impact on the federal deficit and that our grandchildren would be paying for the war. Now they want to spend as much in two years as Bush spent in seven, and it’s ‘an investment in the future.’ How does renovating a bunch of research buildings, that should have been more carefully maintained before now, help the future? How does the $18.5 Billion in energy research to be done in the next two years compare with the total spent since the 1970s?
So what’s different now? Can any reasonable person believe that hundreds of billions of dollars can be better controlled while being more rapidly spent than tens of billions were in Iraq and Louisiana? Does anyone believe, that a brand new group of auditors, paid for by over $200 Million allocated to a number of federal agencies, can be functioning effectively in less than 120 days? Auditors who catch problems after they’ve happened aren’t very useful; the money is spent and the damage is done.
Given the track record of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the most recent TARP outlays, is anyone confident that the government will be effective with this huge amount of money?
We are constantly told that ‘the situation is dire’ and that we must move immediately. I really think someone needs to pause just a moment or two before plunging this nation into debt on this scale.