I Can’t Support The Stimulus Bill
And the Democrats are ruining things for themselves and the country by pushing an awful bill that will fail to improve things and make people even more anti-government at the worst possible time. I think we’re going to have tough times ahead and we need people to be united and strong, so the impact of this failure will go far beyond the specifics of the bill itself.
I made up my mind reading this post:
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.
Look, there are some critical things in the bill that we desperately need to pass. I’ve stated what they are time and again and they need to be larger in scope than this bill gives. However, the tax cuts won’t do anything, and I have yet to see one — one! — infrastructure project that looks like it will truly help our country over the long run. On the flip side people have pointed out tons of awful pork in the comments. This isn’t an “OK” bill that should be passed because it is 75% good and 25% bad and that’s politics…it’s at most 15% good. Not only is that a gigantic waste but it’s also going to make the structural problems worse. The worst part is that I can agree with the three pronged intent (emergency relief, increased employment on time critical projects, long term infrastructure plans) but this will address none of those. Split them up into three bills, the most time critical parts (that everyone agrees on, like increased unemployment benefits etc.) now, a truly good short term job creation bill in the next month or two, and a long term infrastructure in six months. This will isolate the bad criticism so it can be destroyed.
For supporters of the bill, I’d stop focusing on how completely crazy some of the arguments are against it (and how awful the alternative “proposal” is) and focus on whether the bill itself is any good. Be like John Cole and recognize that just because one side is insane doesn’t mean that the other side isn’t idiotic.
Update: I pretty much agree with commenter CS
Anyone who’s still supporting this bill, IMO, fits into one of two categories. Either you’re a partisan Democrat and big government progressive who feels that it doesn’t matter if the bill is really a stimulus bill, it’s a way of increasing all of the programs you want to see increased…Or, you’re a dogmatic Keynesian and you think that any spending is good spending, so why worry about the details. My impression is that Pelosi (of course) is in the first category and Obama is in the second (or, he’s listening to economists who fit in that category.)
Yes the second group is what drives me insane because it is what normally right-thinking people are succumbing to. Of course it will raise the GDP but that’s because the GDP calculation doesn’t pay attention to debt. While theoretical models that have no resource constraints and static labor to GDP relationships show that any spending is good spending, in reality there are opportunity costs, resource misuse and labor market asymmetries that make bad spending way worse than doing nothing.
Even ignoring the theoretical problems, Keynes #1 message was about trade imbalances, and how countries need to work together to help the debtor countries become surplus countries and visa versa. All the spending through debt makes that relationship worse and is completely against what Keynes believed in.