February 17, 2009

Stimulus Spending Categories, Obfuscated.

Here are the words from the Mountain, on the The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

Unfortunately, I think it's Mount Doom. It's so hard not to throw in a sidekick Sam Blagojevich joke here. However, the Doom part of the equation is unfortunately all to real to be Merry.

And here is the page with the "details". The page gives the following spread of details of the spending. Note, it's too early to judge the 'openness' because the details haven't been worked out yet (just ask any of the Senators who read the Bill...1...2...3..), so it's not fair to be too cynical just yet on that score. However, there's some lack of transparency that should be pointed out. On the page the following expenditure breakdowns are listed.
Category//Amount ($ Billions)

*Tax Relief// $288
*State and Local Fiscal Relief//$144
Infrastructure and science//$111
Protecting the Vulnerable//$81
Health Care//$59
Education and Training//$53

On the surface, it would seem that 36.6% of the package is spending cuts. But wait, there's some small print on the page. Notice the asterisks? Here's what the Tax Relief asterisk states;

* Tax Relief - includes $15 B for Infrastructure and Science, $61 B for Protecting the Vulnerable, $25 B for Education and Training and $22 B for Energy, so total funds are $126 B for Infrastructure and Science, $142 B for Protecting the Vulnerable, $78 B for Education and Training, and $65 B for Energy.

So after the adjustments, include tax relief for pet projects, or else the dollars are simply misclassified. In either case the real tax relief is only $165 billion, which represents 21.0% of the package, State and Local fiscal relief (presumably the money to keep in need governments alive and running), accounts for 18.3%, Protecting the Vulnerable (a great euphamism if ever there was one) 18.0%, Infrastructure and Science 16.0%, Education and Training 9.9%, Energy 8.3% and Health Care 7.5%.

Right off the bat the 1/3 tax relief number you've been hearing has pet project tax relief in it and real tax relief - what puts money back in the hands of the American public only accounts for 21% of the package.

Yes, it's transparent, but you have to read the fine print. So far, it's even worse than advertised.

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