Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Stimulus Bill

More details on the stimulus package are now floating around.  First, this blog has parsed the bill down to easily read web pages, and you can look for yourself on where the government would like to spend the money.  Kind of fascinating stuff.  One example - $1 billion in extra funding to the Census department.   Another that is good for me and other PhD's who want some grant money - $2.5 billion in extra funding to the National Science Foundation to support research.   One big item - $18.5 billion to the Energy Department for additional funding for renewable fuels.  I'm all for renewable energy, but this $18.5 billion is allocated in the space of one-half of one page.  In other words, it's not exactly clear what the Energy Department is going to do with the money.

One additional issue, brought up here.  The fraction of the stimulus bill that will actually be released by September 30th - about 14%.  The idea is to stimulate the economy NOW, not in a couple of years.  But the amount of spending that will occur NOW (say by the end of February) is almost zero. 

Given that current estimates have the recession ending in June or July of this year, this whole stimulus bill is starting to look like it is going to miss the boat.  Rather than tacking on an additional $825 billion to the national debt, why not narrow the focus a little?  Let's jack up unemployment insurance payments and other low-income assistance programs (WIC, etc..), as this can be done NOW simply by authorizing higher payments and allowing people to stay on the programs longer. 

Just a thought.

No comments: