The House version of the Stimulus Act is available for your leisurely reading here. Actually, it’s a great read. In 647 pages you get “boy meets girl,” “boy falls in love with girl” and “boy leaves girl with a life long debt to pay as he ditches her at the restaurant!”
It would be a lot of fun to dissect the bill and point out the inanity of the various appropriations that have been contorted to be considered “stimulus,” but like I said, this sucker is 647 pages and I’ve got other things to do. Still, needing to get a post done for the morning, I decided to start looking at the bill and see what pops up. It only took 22 pages to ferret out the brilliance that the authors of this plan hold.
Skimming off the top: I had barely gotten into the package when I saw this interesting provision:
SEC. 1106. SET-ASIDE FOR MANAGEMENT AND OVERSIGHT.
In this section, the authors have allowed each Federal Department that has oversight over some plan dollars, to set aside .5% to be used for management and oversight of the programs. The total stimulus is currently slated to be $825 billion. Of that, $208 billion is allegedly tax reductions. Taking the most generous approach, that would mean that $617 billion will have the .5% set aside. That amounts to $1.25 billion that goes to increasing funding for government agencies.
Wouldn’t you think that these departments could handle the oversight of these projects with their existing staff? That’s how it happens in fiscally strapped commercial enterprises. I guess this is how jobs are created. No reason for them other than “because we can.”
Skimming off the top (part II): But the $1.25 billion isn’t the only government inflation that is contained in the bill. The next section allocates over $208 million for the inspector general, the next section provides $25 million for the “Government Accountability Office.” Hell, I’d offer to double that amount if they really could provide any government accountability! A few sections later $14 million is set aside for the “Accountability and Transparency Board.” Again, I’d double that if they actually could create any.
Buy America! The bill contains a provision that mandates the purchase of American made Steel for any project that the stimulus pays for. If we really wanted to get the most bang for our buck of course, we’d buy steel from the low cost provider. This being a “stimulus” bill, I suppose that’s too much to expect. What would be reasonable is to have a provision that the pricing can’t be above the national average for the product purchased. Yeah, that would be a reasonable provision.
The Steel provision says that with rare exception, US Steel must be purchased unless it:
increase(s) the cost of the overall project by more than 25 percent.
So let me think through this. If the bid for all other materials comes in under plan, if labor costs come in under plan but steel comes in 300% of normal costs but doesn’t throw the “overall project” into an excess of 25%, we have to buy the American steel? I had heard that the Steel industry was pushing for this provision. With this provision I’m convinced they have pictures of authors Rangel and Waxman with goats…oh wait, Waxman already looks like a goat…never mind!
But Not Too Many Jobs! As you would expect, the bill has a prevailing wage requirement for all “stimulus” projects. Under normal circumstances prevailing wage provisions are inefficient wastes for people who don’t have to worry about fiscal responsibility. In this bill it’s worse.
When supply exceeds demand the situation is generally known as “A buyer’s market.” This term is often used in real estate settings, like today, where many more sellers want to sell than buyers are willing to buy. Typically in these environments, the buyers are able to negotiate much more aggressive prices. They are able to do this because the seller wants the sale and with excess inventory, they know that buyers have lots of options. A similar situation exists in today’s labor market.
With unemployment rates what they are, there are more workers looking for work than employers looking to employ them. Under a free market this should mean that wages will soften to some extent. The authors in their wisdom, have obviously decided that they have some mystical number of jobs that they want to create and that it coincides neatly with the “prevailing wage.” If the markets dictated labor rates for these projects we could not only stretch the dollar further, and perhaps do more projects, but also likely put more people to work….that is if you believe the whole “stimulus creates jobs” fairy tale!
We Still Hate Blagojevich! Here’s a really interesting provision:
None of the funds provided by this Act may be made available to the State of Illinois, or any agency of the State, unless (1) the use of such funds by the State is of the enactment of this Act, or (2) Rod R. Blagojevich no longer holds the office of Governor of the State of Illinois. The preceding sentence shall not apply to any funds provided directly to a unit of local government (1) by a Federal department or agency, or (2) by an established formula from the State.
The Lying Section 1204: This section provides:
The Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers in consultation with the Director of the Office of Management and Budget and the Secretary of the Treasury, shall submit quarterly reports to Congress detailing the estimated impact of programs under this Act on employment, economic growth, and other key economic indicators.
I’ve already documented here and here how Christina Romer has sold her soul to Obama, making up stories for this stimulus that are not supported by her own research. I hope Patrick Fitzgerald stays busy with Blagojevich while this provision is in place. I hear perjury raps aren’t pleasant!
It only took 22 pages to come across these items, I haven’t even gotten to the actual appropriations detail. I feel a thrill running up my leg as I think about what enlightened idiocy is contained in the remaining 625 pages.
Revisions/extensions (5:01 am 1/27/2009, steveegg) - Not to be outdone by their House counterparts, the Senate also has its own version ready to go. The Senate Consevatives Fund put up a 5-part PDF file of the Senate’s working version. It is a “slightly” smaller read at “only” 434 pages plus a 161-page Appropriations Report.
While by the Constitution the Senate will receive whatever comes out of the House, they also do reserve the right to, among other things, put this in as a substitute amendment. Like Shoebox, I don’t have time to sift through all 1,100-plus pages, but I wouldn’t ignore the Senate’s initial contribution. After all, any changes in the Senate would send it to a conference committee, where the real sausage-making happens. Bills tend to grow in conference committee, and we are talking about the even-freer-spending half of the bipartisan Party-In-Government.