Saturday, January 24, 2009

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan

Closing Gitmo is an nice move. It's one of the campaign promises Barack Obama made and now must keep whether he wants to or not. Just where he'll disappear George Bush's pet terrorists is left to speculation. Freezing White House salaries? It's about time someone in government took responsibility and pulled their own belts a little tighter. And re-opening the crown of the Statue of Liberty? It's about damn time! Nothing defined the Bush Administration more than the closed and empty head of Lady Liberty.

Eric Holder's confirmation as Attorney General is a week late, but as soon as Holder promises Republicans that he won't come after them for their sins in the previous mis-administration he should be greenlighted.

But this "American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan" thing…

Are you fucking kidding me?

Let's set aside the fact that you're following George Bush's lead by throwing money at a problem and hoping it goes away. Let's set aside the fact that even the most conservative estimates are predicting the total cost to exceed two trillion dollars. (Trillion? Fuck, and here I sit wondering whether I should buy bread and cheese or pay the heating bill.)

Let's talk about timing.

Your own financial advisors and the Congressional Budget Office say that only one-third of that money can be spent by the end of 2010 meaning that the "immediate impact" of the plan should be felt somewhere around the start of the 2011 NFL season. Office of Management and Budget director Peter Orszag, former director of the CBO, says that the CBO has only analyzed forty percent of the plan but that seventy-five percent of the money will go directly into the economy in the first 18 months. that's good spin, kids! Do the math and you'll find that seventy-five percent of forty percent works out to just one-third of the proposed $800 billion.

I wonder which programs will get the money first: Medicaid ($87 billion), shiny new alternative energy government cars ($600 million), DTV conversion box coupons ($650 million), upgrading the National Computer Center for the Social Security Administration - anyone see Die Hard 4? ($400 million), Department of Defense research for "green" weapons systems ($350 million) (and that's just for research!), Census Bureau ($1 billion), and the list goes on.

Sure there's some great stuff in there like vocation training and work placement and medical and insurance compensation plans, but almost everything in this bill is geared to trickle down over the next three years. By that time we'll all be working second jobs at Wal•Mart just to pay off the enormous tax-debt created by this one bill. I'm all for "green" tech and nationwide broadband access, but this bill isn't the place for them.

Committee on Appropriations chairman Dave Obey warns us that without the passage of this bill unemployment could rise to twelve percent, but if the bill does pass it will only rise to eight or nine percent. And this is considered Recovery? Sure, in three years we'll be saving thirty percent on our light bill, but that's assuming we're still able to afford the rent. Good luck with that.

To read the bill for yourself, a PDF is available at

No comments: