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Quick and Dirty

March 14, 2009

Spending gazillions of borrowed money that future generations will have to pay back (with interest) isn’t as easy as you might have thought. To see your agency’s budget increase by several zeros to the left of the point can create a lot of headache. That there is a certain amount of confusion about the White House’s rules on what to spend the money on doesn’t improve the situation.

Not surprising at all is the dissatisfaction of the recipients of the money as they realise that their notion of how the sums would be used most effectively differs from the White House’s directions on how to use them. The Obama administration’s vow to monitor what the states do with the money is the promise that local knowledge about where money would be spent best gets overridden by DC’s central planners. You may think that fixing your sewer system is a priority but somewhere in Washington someone has decided that your more urgent need is to build three more energy-efficient buildings for your public school. And since time is of the essence – we don’t want that ‘stimulus’ money to lie around until 2 years after the end of the recession as opposed to one year, do we? – the states and local officials better spend quickly and haphazardly rather than send the checks back to DC.

But not to worry, Vice President Biden, who tells the truth as candidly as a drunken sailor and who is also put in charge of overseeing the ‘stimulus’ process, is experienced enough to know that “some level of waste and fraud is unfortunately inevitable”. So it’s not as if this hadn’t been taken into account when the administration launched a government increase of European proportions and called it economic stimulus, thereby increased national debt by another $800 billion (disregarding the interest), went ahead with TARP II, formed a multi-trillion dollar budget, ordered a bail-out for ‘homeowners’, waved through an omnibus bill with 8 or 9 thousand earmarks and then concluded that it is acting fiscally responsible.

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