What’s in the stimulus bill

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Here’s the rundown on spending, courtesy of the House Appropriations Committee. My first take is that if you have spend $550 billion (the tax cuts will add up to $275 billion), it’s a sensible-enough plan for doing it. It’s a mix of things that make long-term sense (energy efficiency, infrastructure) and things that can have immediate effect (a food stamp increase, aid to states). None of this is any guarantee that it will work. But it’s a start:

·        $32 billion to transform the nation’s energy transmission, distribution, and production systems by allowing for a smarter and better grid and focusing investment in renewable technology.

·        $16 billion to repair public housing and make key energy efficiency retrofits.

·        $6 billion to weatherize modest-income homes.

·        $10 billion for science facilities, research, and instrumentation.

·        $6 billion to expand broadband internet access so businesses in rural and other underserved areas can link up to the global economy.

·        $30 billion for highway construction;

·        $31 billion to modernize federal and other public infrastructure with investments that lead to long term energy cost savings;

·        $19 billion for clean water, flood control, and environmental restoration investments;

·        $10 billion for transit and rail to reduce traffic congestion and gas consumption.

·        $41 billion to local school districts through Title I ($13 billion), IDEA ($13 billion), a new School Modernization and Repair Program ($14 billion), and the Education Technology program ($1 billion).

·        $79 billion in state fiscal relief to prevent cutbacks to key services, including $39 billion to local school districts and public colleges and universities distributed through existing state and federal formulas, $15 billion to states as bonus grants as a reward for meeting key performance measures, and $25 billion to states for other high priority needs such as public safety and other critical services, which may include education.

·        $15.6 billion to increase the Pell grant by $500.

·        $6 billion for higher education modernization.

·        $20 billion for health information technology to prevent medical mistakes, provide better care to patients and introduce cost-saving efficiencies.

·        $4.1 billion to provide for preventative care and to evaluate the most effective healthcare treatments.
·        $43 billion for increased unemployment benefits and job training.

·        $39 billion to support those who lose their jobs by helping them to pay the cost of keeping their employer provided healthcare under COBRA and providing short-term options to be covered by Medicaid.

·        $20 billion to increase the food stamp benefit by over 13% in order to help defray rising food costs.

·        $87 billion for a temporary increase in the Medicaid matching rate.

·        $4 billion for state and local law enforcement funding.

Upside Megan McArdle is skeptical. And she expresses her skepticism entertainingly, which is of course all that really counts:

The better the projects are, the less likely they are to be stimulative, because they’re complicated and time consuming, like healthcare IT and high-speed rail.  If we do them on a stimulus timeframe, we’ll screw them up, waste an enormous amount of money, and likely make American voters worse off in the long term by locking them in to bad solutions–we won’t get a second bite at high-speed rail between LA and San Francisco.   Mostly, Democrats took their wish lists, called them “stimulus”, and look set to inflict them on the American people in badly done drag.

Now, what does that remind me off?  Rhymes with Whoosh Max Butts, I think . . .

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