Wednesday, January 28, 2009

What Hath They Wrought?

As expected, the $825,000,000,000 (give or take) American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (H.R. 1) passed the House today. Now, anyone who knows me knows that I think very little of this bill. And why is that?

Well, for starters...

  • $1 billion for Amtrak
  • $50 million for the National Endowment for the Arts
  • $400 million for global warming research (no word on whether any of this will be directed to finding out why it snows every time Al Gore shows up to talk about climate change)
  • $2.4 billion for carbon-capture demonstration projects
  • $150 million for the Smithsonian Institution
  • $6 billion for mass transit

That's all well and good, but how about...

  • $81 billion for Medicaid
  • $83 billion for Earned Income Credit payments
  • $66 billion for education (My guess: none of it will be spent to determine the efficacy of incredibly large federal block payments into state education programs. Actual truth: this money is prohibited from being used for vouchers.)
Are these new, incredibly large, payouts justified in any meaningful way?

Oh, and finally...
  • $30 billion for road/highway projects
  • $40 billion for other infrastructure projects
  • $20 billion for business tax cuts
And those three items are arguably the only payouts that will lead to any meaningful job creation. The rest seems like Democrats rewarding their donors to me.

(These are just a few of the items pointed out by the Wall Street Journal.)

Rather unexpectedly (at least to me), every Republican voted against this thing, including Michael McCaul and Lamar Smith (for people in my local area). Lloyd Doggett ignored my call pleading with him to vote against, unfortunately (but as I figured he would). Full rollcall vote is here.

My take on this bill: a disaster. I (like most of us, I would think) would like to see the economy improve, but I cannot believe that this bill will do it. I do, however, think that the Democrats will use this bill to take credit for the natural cycles that will turn this economy back into an upswing.