A trillion here, a trillion there, pretty soon ….

Everett Dirksen
Image by gympumpkin via Flickr

” A billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you’re talking real money” is a phrase attributed to Sen. Everett Dirksen (perhaps inaccurately) during floor debates on the federal budget in the early 50’s. So here we are, with right at a trillion obligated, another trillion being discussed, and yet a 3rd trillion being pondered in some Washington circles.

A trillion here, a trillion there, here a trillion there a trillion, and it’s already way past anybody’s definition of “real money.” That our congress can even discuss things of this magnitude, even if the pork was not in these handouts, is so far beyond sad as to, out of sheer necessity, be laughable. Me-thinks congress takes itself way too seriously as a body else they could not even entertain a discussion like what is going on.

Let’s look at the current “stimulus” package under consideration. Just what is in it, or can we even find out.? Here are some things I can find that are worth talking about.

Aid to states

For starters, it is a shell game. Sending federal aid to states would not save taxpayers a dime, because state taxpayers are also federal taxpayers. Hiking federal taxes to keep state taxes from rising is like running up your Visa card to keep the MasterCard balance from rising. Either way, you will pay. All that changes is where you send your payment. Heritage Foundation.

I have to agree for the most part. An argument is that the federal dollar can be injected into the stream of commerce faster than the states can do it, and without the balanced budget restraint. IF truly stimulating spending were the case, maybe that could help. But to just fulfill state wish lists is nuts. According to Heritage “Congress already sends $467 billion a year to state and local government–up 29 percent after inflation since 2000.”

Energy

  • $8 billion in loans for renewable energy power generation and transmission projects and $2 billion for energy efficiency and renewable energy research. greentechmedia — Those are very long-term projects, what is currently stimulating about that?
  • $2 billion for energy efficiency and renewable energy research$2 billion for energy efficiency and renewable energy research. greentechmedia — That money may get to work right away, but how many jobs does it create? A few university and thinktank positions perhaps, very localized.
  • The House bill draft contained, and probably passed, a provision to turn renewable energy investment tax credits into direct payments from the federal government. greentechmedia — How much you ask? This piece from greentechmedia may provide a clue:

Such so-called “structured equity” deals represented about $5.5 billion in investment last year, he said. But this year could see only $2 billion to $4 billion available for such deals, given the massive losses investors are facing – and that’s for a solar industry that will likely require $10 billion to $12 billion in 2009 to keep up their rapid pace of growth, [Chris O’Brien, head of North America market development for Swiss solar equipment maker Oerlikon Solar,] said.

It’s sure starting to add up to real money.

Non-smoking plans

Now there’s an area that requires intervention by the federal government. According to CNNPolitics.com, the Senate plan contains $75 million for smoking cessation plans. CNNPolitics.com — On the CNNPolitics site there is a link to a video by Sen. Tom Harkin discussing how this will help the economy. Someone view that and get back to me, ok? Now I’m not a smoker, never have been, and I hate it. That’s a worthwhile effort, but is the timing right? Will this kind of expenditure really stimulate anything? It’ll take about the stimulation of the smokes for some people, so it won’t be helping them!

(more when I get time … this will grow ….)


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