Ft. Lauderdale, Fl USA
I'm not sure where you stand, Mike, on this whole thing.
1. Do you think we need a stimulus plan?
2. Is it this particular plan that bothers you?
Those are excellent questions, Brad. I won't pretend to be any economy expert or smarter than anyone else in that field. To me, the plan and the way is was shoved down the throats of the American people hit me wrong. When you are not an expert, go to the experts. These are some of the people I went to in order to find out if I was off-base or not...
This is how it began...
President-elect Barack Obama warned Capitol Hill lawmakers yesterday that he will bar all pork-barrel projects from the massive economic-stimulus package he is asking them to pass. The proposed plan, which Obama says will cost around $775 billion, will not allow lawmakers to insert pet projects, as they often do on spending bills.
Speaking at his transition office in Washington, Obama said his program "will have a higher standard of accountability, transparence and oversight." http://www.nypost.com/seven/01072009/news/politics/obama_bans_stimulus_package_p ork_149013.htm
Well, how did that work out?
With only eight hours to comb through the thousands of pages that make up the Economic Stimulus Recovery package, Republicans have already spotted a few items of pork which have been released to the public by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's office on February 13, 2009.
After the stimulus package came under scrutiny and was found to have included millions for STDs and contraceptives, the pork has been slimmed down somewhat. So far, it is known that the package contains:
* Tax benefits for Golf Carts, Electric Motorcycles and ATV.
* $300 million for Federal Employees Company Cars which will acquire vehicles with higher fuel economy, including hybrid vehicles and electric vehicles.
* $1 billion for ACORN--Eligible block grants to carry out community development.
* $50 million For an Arts Endowment.
* $165 million for Fish Hatcheries. *
After the stimulus package is passed and signed by President Obama, watchdog groups will go over it line-by-line and if Democrats in the House and Senate still think that pork can be hidden, those running for office in 2010 may have to justify their votes in favor of the stimulus package. http://www.examiner.com/x-2547-Watchdog-Politics-Examiner~y2009m 2d13-Stimulus-package-still-has-plenty-of-pork
Here you have an interesting article by Russell Rogers, professor at George Mason University, which ends like this...
I'm not saying that economy policy is irrelevant. Economic policy matters because it affects the long-run growth of the economy. I'm all for policies that make us more productive or innovative by changing incentives. But those policies take time. There's little any economic doctor can do to move our $14 trillion organism of an economy in the next few months.
Politicians who work in the Oval Office—or those who seek to work there—would be wise to remember that patience is a virtue. Focus on the policies that lead to growth over time. Expecting results overnight is bound to lead to disappointment.
Russell Roberts is a professor at George Mason University and a research fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution. He hosts the weekly podcast series, EconTalk.
Here are just a few more, Brad, of the hundreds of economists who have spoken out against it....
*The Nobel laureate and University of Chicago economics professor Gary Becker worries that increased government spending in the form of a gigantic stimulus package would “crowd out” private sector spending. He also says he believes that a recent report from Mr. Obama’s transition team economists may “overestimate the effects of this stimulus package on the economy, and that the same techniques would similarly overestimate the employment effects of other types of government spending and tax reduction policies.”
*Robert E. Lucas, a Nobel laureate at the University of Chicago, wrote that Fed policy (as opposed to, presumably, fiscal policy) is the best means for digging the country out of recession.
*Jonathan Bean at the Independent Institute and David R. Henderson at the Hoover Institution both looked at whether fiscal stimulus actually cured previous economic downturns, and by extension, whether it is likely to have any effect this time. Mr. Bean noted that many economists and historians now believe the New Deal — which some see as the model for extricating America from the current recession — actually prolonged the Great Depression. Mr. Henderson looked at studies done by President-elect Barack Obama’s choice to head the Council of Economic Advisers, Christina Romer, that showed that fiscal policy has had little effect in ending previous recessions.
Four of ASU's most prominent economists have joined with hundreds of others in their field to argue against the federal stimulus package now finishing its journey through Congress.
The Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, on Monday placed a full-page ad in several of the nation's largest-circulation newspapers questioning President Barack Obama's contention that there is relatively unanimous support for government intervention in the economy. On the ad were the names of more than 200 economists from across the country. Among them were Edward Prescott, an ASU economist and Nobel laureate, and three of his colleagues at Arizona State University. "We're pretty free-market over here," said Stephen Happel, an ASU economics professor, "and, you know, we think the stimulus package is anything but."
ASU, including the W.P. Carey School of Business where they all work, is one of many public institutions that stands to benefit greatly from the roughly $800 billion plan. The package includes huge sums in aid for ailing state economies, like Arizona's, that could offset tens of millions of dollars in higher education budget cuts. Regardless, the ASU economists who signed the Cato Institute's statement - Prescott, Happel, Nancy Roberts and Allan DeSerpa - argue that the federal government's plan could be a waste of nearly a trillion taxpayer dollars.
"We're spending all this time nitpicking at this stimulus package," said Roberts, an economics professor. "You know, should there be money in there for National Endowment for the Arts? Should Amtrak be in there? What about child care? When, in fact, it's really begging the question, should the federal government be doing any of this at all?" The Cato Institute argues that massive government intervention has repeatedly failed to boost struggling economies in the past. "Lower tax rates and a reduction in the burden of government are the best way of using fiscal policy to boost growth," the institute's statement said. http://www.eastvalleytribune.com/story/135282
Ok, so how do I feel about it? I believe that action is necessary, but not this plan and not with this speed. Obama going on national tv to tell the public that, without the IMMEDIATE passage of this bill, the nation would be damaged to the point of irreversability strikes me as the tactics of a used-car salesman or someone needing to make the sale while you are still in the showroom. Democrats have a long record of declaring crises and even White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel spelled it out by saying "Never let a serious crisis go to waste. What I mean by that is it's an opportunity to do things you couldn't do before." Good grief, man! He even told the people what was happening and they still support it. I find that amazing.
So Obama turns it over to Pelosi to draft and she comes up with a wealthload of pork to inject into it, gets it past the house, sends it to the Senate with almost no time to read it before voting. It stinks, Brad. If the bill were that good and above board there wouldn't be a need for such tactics. Pelosi is as giddy as a schoolgirl who has just gotten away with putting something over on a hated rival. They have injected a ton of things in there costing many billions of dollars that do not belong there at this time and running up big bills that are going to have to be paid by SOMEBODY. When your grandkids come to you and say "Were you people NUTS???", what will your answer be?
I think Obama is a decent sort. Yes, I still accuse him of the scare tactics he is using with regards to this bill but I believe he has the best interest of the nation at heart. Problem is that he is a non-entity. He is the cheerleader shaking his pom-poms out there to get crowds cheering from city to city while the players, the real team, are playing the game. The democratic congressman I mentioned earlier who said that Obama was concerned about the amount of pork Pelosi stuck in the bill was right but...so what? They will send him to another city to do what he does best...give a speech. Democrats said that, if Hillary had been elected, they would have had the distinction of having the first woman president. Well, guess what? They DO have the first woman president - Nancy Pelosi.
What do I think would work? Lower taxes and less burden on the government. Keep the golf carts, the STD prevention, the beautification of the governement buildings and all of the other things off the democratic wish list and get back to the basics without the pork.
I find it interesting that when Ronald Reagan inherited the Jimmy Carter fiasco with double digit unemployment and the country in recession mode, he came up with four points to turn the country around and they worked. Obama and team, instead of learning from that, are doing exactly the opposite of those four points. He succeeded - how do you think it will work for them?
Right now I believe the Democrat administration has the country just the way they want it....hands out, saying "Where's mine?" And I do not think this will end well.