Republicans are demonizing Obama’s stimulus bill because it’s wasteful. Yes, they say, we need the government to stimulate the economy, but this bill is just pork, not stimulus. To take one random example of this commentary, here’s the Buffalo News:
How many new economy-stimulating jobs will be created immediately, if at all, by the tacked-on $650 million for new digital TV conversion coupons? Or the $1 billion to get ready for the 2010 Census, which would have to be done anyway? Or the $726 million for after-school snack programs, the $1 billion or so for climate research, $20 million to remove fish barriers at dams or $20 million to rehabilitate off-road ATV trails?
Now, to be fair, the writer of this piece is questioning how many jobs will be created by the spending bill immediately. And the speed of the spending is a legitimate issue, but the real complaint here isn’t that the spending isn’t quick enough, it’s that the spending is frivolous. Fish barrier removal? ATV trail rehab? The implication is that we might as well be paying people to dig holes and fill them back up.
So, is it? Let’s turn to the google. It turns out that here in the Northwest there are lots of barriers to fish migration, mainly resulting from highway construction decades ago when people weren’t thinking much about the impact on fish. With dwindling wild fish runs, it makes sense to rectify this situation. Maybe that shouldn’t be a priority. I don’t know enough about it to have an opinion. But my point is GOPers who are criticizing it as frivolous don’t know enough about it to have an opinion either. In fact they seem to know even less than I do, since at least I googled it for five minutes.
The reality is that virtually every economist on the planet says the economy is in a serious downward spiral that can only be broken by government spending. So, if the GOP wants to propose OTHER SPENDING, I say let’s have a discussion. They want to spend more on Star Wars or the Great Mexican Fence? Let’s discuss. Just demogoguing the proposed spending isn’t very helpful.