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Stimulate What?

Deep in the front section of the Washington Post we find an article that begins:

The economic stimulus packages under consideration on Capitol Hill represent a massive financial windfall for agencies across the federal government. Taken together, they could lead to more spending for “green” initiatives, the upgrading of federal buildings and facilities, and improved health-care service.

Despite the president’s touchiness on the subject, it is hard to escape the conclusion that this is not stimulative spending (that is temporary, targeted and timely) aimed at job growth, but an effort to bolster the size of the federal government. Well, it may create some jobs, but those won’t be private sector jobs. And unless the government continues to expand year after year those people will eventually need to find permanent employment outside the civil service. (Hmm, I suppose Pelosi and Reid have a solution to that one.)

At least Eugene Robinson is being honest when he writes:

The House of Representatives loaded up the bill like a Christmas tree as powerful Democrats found room for their pet projects. This was a good thing, not an outrage. Hundreds of millions of dollars for contraceptives? To the extent that those condoms or birth-control pills are made in the United States and sold in U.S. drugstores, that spending would be stimulative in more ways than one.

It is fine to call the trillion dollar bill “stimulative,” but it is not stimulative in the sense most people understand the term — a short term fix to help bolster the economy (that good old Keynesian multiplier). Rather it is a targeted and timely, but not a temporary, effort to inflate the size and scope of government.

But it wouldn’t do the president much good, I suppose, to come right out and confess that he likes the huge, overstuffed bag of Pelosi’s liberal goodies just fine. It wasn’t what he ran on and it’s not what’s selling, but it is what we’re getting. We’ll see if the public is fine with that.


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