The Stimulus Time Delay

From the WSJ, via TJIC:

The stimulus bill currently steaming through Congress looks like a legislative freight train, but given last week's analysis by the Congressional Budget Office, it is more accurate to think of it as a time machine. That may be the only way to explain how spending on public works in 2011 and beyond will help the economy today.

According to Congressional Budget Office estimates, a mere $26 billion of the House stimulus bill's $355 billion in new spending would actually be spent in the current fiscal year, and just $110 billion would be spent by the end of 2010. This is highly embarrassing given that Congress's justification for passing this bill so urgently is to help the economy right now, if not sooner.

And the red Congressional faces must be very red indeed, because CBO's analysis has since vanished into thin air after having been posted early last week on the Appropriations Committee Web site. Officially, the committee says this is because the estimates have been superseded as the legislation has moved through committee. No doubt.

In addition to suppressing the CBO analysis, Democrats have derided it. Appropriations Chairman David Obey (D., Wis.) called it "off the wall," never mind that CBO is now run by Democrats. Mr. Obey also suggested that it would be a mistake to debate the stimulus "until the cows come home." We'd settle for a month or two, so at least the voters can inspect the various Congressional cattle they're buying with that $355 billion.

The reason this is so was explained by yours truly last week.  In short:

A year from now, any truly new incremental project in the stimulus bill will still be sitting on some planners desk with unfinished environmental impact assessments, the subject of arguments between multiple government agencies, tied up in court with environmental or NIMBY challenges, snarled in zoning fights, subject to conflicts between state, county, and city governments, or all of the above.  Most of the money will have been spent by planners, bureaucrats, and lawyers, with little to show for in actual facilities.


  1. Matt:

    I referenced your earlier post in my latest post on my blog. And the front page of my paper (The Tampa Tribune)had a story about the Florida delegation all lining up for local pork. I'm usually not that afraid of economic downturns, but this scares the hell out of me because of the measures congress will go through to try to "fix" it.

  2. John Moore:


    It's too bad the initial bailout was necessary while the Republicans were in the administration. It now gives the Dems cover for this real smelly porker.

    In addition to nationalizing the auto industry and forcing it to make unprofitable high mileage cars, they are going to spend hundreds of billions on standard federal pork - but way above normal levels. And it isn't going to do a darn thing for economic recovery.

    This is bad. Really, really bad.

  3. SteveMT:

    Here is how Senator Tester (D) Montana is "spinning" this Bill. This Bill is terrible and will not help, only hurt America.
    Montanans speak out in favor of Jobs Bill

    Montanans Applaud Baucus, Tester and Economic Recovery Efforts Before Congress

    Friday, February 6, 2009

    (Washington D.C.) – Montanans today expressed their support for the Jobs Bill currently before Congress, saying the bill will help create good paying jobs and get Montana’s and the country’s economy back on track.

    Montana’s U.S. Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester played a key role in writing the Jobs Bill- Baucus as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and Tester as member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. Community members are speaking out in support of the Jobs Bill, citing specific measures in the bill that will ensure Montana’s businesses, industries and communities continue to thrive.
    Provisions to Help Montana Industries
    The Jobs Bill contains tax help to ensure Montana companies can keep their doors open and their employees on the job. One provision, the net operation loss carry back, allows timber, homebuilding and technology companies to recoup a percentage of taxes they paid during more stable economic times.
    Eivind Forseth; Airborne Ranger and Disabled Iraq veteran from Billings:
    “The $300 relief payment in the stimulus will undoubtedly help our nation's veterans. More often than not, veterans who have recently separated from active duty struggle to make ends meet. Those who are eligible for compensation normally wait up to twelve months or more to receive their veterans' benefits. Our veterans deserve every cent.
    More here: