Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

If Republican oppose the stimulus package so much, then I think they should put their money where their mouth is by refusing to accept any stimulus funds for their state:

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, a potential 2012 GOP presidential candidate, has suggested his state may not be interested in all of the roughly $4 billion allotted to it in the economic stimulus package to be signed by President Obama today.

“We’ll have to review each program, each new dollar to make sure that we understand what are the conditions, what are the strings and see whether it’s beneficial for Louisiana to use those dollars,” Jindal said

Every Republican Congressman and Senator–save three–should be telling their state’s Governors not to accept any federal funds from the stimulus.  None.  If they don’t want the money–and the jobs and economic recovery they will bring–then they shouldn’t accept them.

In fact, only one or two states would need to do this.  Then we could compare those states to the states that accepted funding and see where their economies end up a few years out from now. Sure, there’s a chance they’ll be alright–but with so many states facing budget shortfalls and cuts in vital services and infrastructure, I highly doubt it.  I bet that any states refusing stimulus funds will be worse off economically than any states that does accept funding.

Of course, this is all moot.  Most Republican Governors–in defiance of their doctrinaire national party–know that the stimulus is vital to their states and will accept the money; I doubt even Bobby Jindal can keep his hands off of everything.  And thus cements the hypocrisy of the GOP–they’ll rail against the stimulus while it’s being considered, but gladly come hat-in-hand once the funds are approved and ready to go.


BREAKING: Stimulus Deal Reached (UPDATED)

The Washington Post reports that Congressional Democrats and Republicans have crafted a final version of the economic stimulus package:

House and Senate negotiators reached agreement today on a stimulus plan with a cost of about $789 billion after scaling down the versions passed by both houses, congressional leaders announced.


[Majority Leader Harry Reid] said the final version “creates more jobs than the original Senate bill and spends less than the original House bill.” The bill passed by the Senate yesterday totaled $838 billion. The House version approved last week had a price tag of $819 billion.

Reid said the bill would create 3.5 million jobs and fulfill President Obama’s pledge to cut taxes for 95 percent of American families. He said the final bill would be put to a vote on the Senate floor “in the next few days, maybe as early as tomorrow.”

“This has been a give and take,” Reid said, adding that “the House is part of this arrangement.”

If Reid’s assessment is accurate then I’m happy with the legislation; I still worry that the bill isn’t big enough and contains a lot of the wrong kind of spending, but this bill is necessary for our economic recovery.

Of course, now I’m interested in which Republicans will change their minds and vote for the final stimulus package. The difference between the prior version and the final version is $49 billion; I wonder if that will really be the line between Republicans voting to save our economy and Republicans obstructing economic recovery.

UPDATE: I agree with Ben Smith’s take on this:

My first instinct is that, despite some handwringing, it’s hard not to see this as a pretty clean win for the president. During the transition Obama called for a stimulus package in that ballpark, and said he hoped to get it through by first week in February.

It’s February 11, just a few days late, and he appears to have more or less what he wanted. He’s now going to get credit for massive spending on thousands of popular projects, further enhancing his political capital, at least for now.

He, and the plan, will be judged on the larger course of the economy. But this deal appears to leave a strong president even stronger.

The 7.5% Doctrine (UPDATED)

Senator Tom Coburn has put out a new list of what he calls “Wasteful and Non-Stimulative Spending” in the recently-passed economic stimulus package.

If you do the math, you find that Coburn’s list amounts to just over $62 billion, or just 7.5% of the $838 billion stimulus package passed by the Senate. I have to admit, opposing a bill because you dislike 7.5% of it is better than opposing a bill because you dislike 2% of it, which was the previous GOP standard. I have to give Coburn some credit for finding more things to hate in the stimulus package.

But here’s my problem–nowhere does Coburn explain why these expenditures are wasteful and non-stimulative. It’s just a list of expenditures with no analysis or explanation whatsoever, I guess he subjected them to the patented Republican “I don’t like it and therefore it’s not stimulate” economic analysis, but some of this list is rediculous on it’s face.

Some of the programs Coburn opposes will, irrefutably, create jobs. For instance, he highlights $2 billion toward building a zero-emissions power plant, even though people will have to be hired to actually do the work of building that plant, thus creating jobs. The same goes for the $1 billion expenditure for building NOAA offices that Coburn opposes.

Similarly, Coburn criticizes putting $2 billion toward manufacturing hybrid car batteries, even though the expansion of that sector means more people will have to be hired to to keep up with the extra demand. Coburn also opposes a $1.2 billion expenditure for creating, as he puts it, “summer jobs for youth [sic]”. Come on, it says right there on your website that the $1.2 billion is specifically designed to create jobs for young workers; how is that not stimulative? How doesn’t that create jobs and grow our economy? What sense does this list make?

Look, that’s the same tactic the GOP has been using against the stimulus package all along: they cherry pick relatively-minor expenditures that sound funny to them and use those expenditures to bludgeon the bill as as “pork” and “wasteful”. Of course, at no point do any of them actually stop to figure out whether these programs would actually create jobs and help the economy, which you think would be kind of important to know.

That’s because, to the GOP, this isn’t about the economy–it’s about politics. They want to hurt the Democrats by crippling a Democratic economic recovery initiative. They’re dreaming up stupid-on-their-faces talking points and putting them out there, hoping all the while that nobody realizes that there’s no economics behind their complaints.

“I don’t like it, therefore it’s not stimulus” has become the gold standard of Republican economics. And they wonder why they keep losing elections…

UPDATE: And then there’s this:

In the late morning he [Obama] will visit a construction site in Springfield, Virginia with Governor Tim Kaine to highlight the jobs that will be created by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and his commitment to making sure the American people know how their tax dollars will be spent.

And later in the afternoon, state transportation officials “from nearly every state,” will meet with Transportation Secretary LaHood and White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel to discuss  their “infrastructure needs … as well as the projects that are ready to go,” in anticipation of the passage of the stimulus bill.

Vice President Biden will do his part, traveling to Pennsylvania, where he will tour a bridge slated for repair if Pennsylvania receives money under the economic stimulus bill. He will then travel to Harrisburg, where he will deliver remarks on the importance of investing in infrastructure “in order to build a 21st century economy.”

No matter what the GOP says, the economic stimulus package is designed to create jobs and will create jobs.  Some of the programs might sound silly to some Republicans in Congress, but that doesn’t change the fact that they will grow our economy and put people back to work.