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July 13, 2009

"Slinging Around Great Gobs of Dollars"

Michael Barone wrote what I believe is an early contender for best political column you'll read in 2009. A taste:

All this sounds like muddling by incompetents, but in fact these Democratic legislators are (mostly) highly competent and they are trying to do very hard things: restructure government regulation of--or establish government control over--one-sixth (health care) and one-tenth (energy) of the economy. And they're dealing with a president who has shown a striking lack of interest in details and whose single legislative achievement so far--the $787 billion stimulus package passed in February--has visibly failed in its asserted goal of holding unemployment down to 8 percent.

It turns out that details matter, a lot, when you're slinging around great gobs of dollars. Barack Obama let congressional appropriators write the stimulus package. The result, according to the Government Accountability Office, is that only $29 billion had been spent as of June 19, 90 percent of it for Medicaid and "the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund administered by the Department of Education."

Translation: The money has gone to state governments in fiscal trouble because of declining revenues and (in some cases) profligate spending. This insulates public employees union members from the painful effects of recession that are being felt by almost everyone else, with the added political benefit of channeling money to unions, which in turn channel some of it to Democratic politicians.

Read the whole thing.


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posted by Gabriel Malor at 07:17 PM

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