The Campaign Spot

The Stimulus, Managing to Be Wasteful, but Slowly

Obama’s stimulus plan cost $787 billion. So far, in the first quarterly report from Joe Biden, they have “obligated” about 11 percent, or $88 billion. Of course, “obligated” does not mean “spent.” It means “entered into a binding agreement that will result in outlays, immediately or in the future.” In other words, they have arranged contracts to spend this money, but the funds may still be in government accounts, instead of getting out there and being, you know, stimulative.

[UPDATE: It gets worse. On page 4, the report states, “As of May 5th, $28.5 billion had already been outlaid.” This means that as of last week, an entire 3.6 percent of this fast-acting economic stimulus had actually gotten out the door and into the economy. The New York Times, meanwhile, puts the figure at about $45 billion, or 6 percent.]

As stimuluses go, this version was pretty lousy, for many reasons. But a big one was that it wasn’t designed to work fast enough. Tax cuts can kick in immediately; by comparison, spending new money takes time to get to the agencies, to the offices, to the companies doing the work for the offices and then finally to the workers of those companies.

Somehow the government has managed to spend the stimulus cash slowly enough to show little economic impact, but fast enough to overlook that 10,000 of the seniors they’re sending $250 checks to are dead.

UPDATE: House Republicans note:

In March, Vice President Biden, in discussing his efforts to “police” the use of “stimulus” funds, promised, “If we see money being misspent, we’re going to put a stop to it, and we will call it out and we will publicize it.”

The Washington Post reports that nearly a million dollars of those “stimulus” funds have been approved to repave an alternate runway at an airport in Rep. John Murtha’s (D-PA) congressional district.  The airport has six arriving and departing flights per day.

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