Well not really, they just repeat some talking points without giving numbers. (via Dean Baker) Stimulus plan should focus on private-sector jobs, not increased social spending
Also, the $300 billion targeted for social programs, many of them Democratic favorites, would not generate much immediate economic activity. Improving teacher quality, providing additional cash for Head Start and promoting wellness, for example, are standard government social-spending items that have little to do with stimulating instantaneous economic activity. Democrats are simply expanding spending on their traditional priorities under the cover of an economic emergency.
In fact, only about 5 percent of the plan’s spending is aimed at the immediate creation of jobs through infrastructure projects, such as repair and construction of roads and bridges. But if the goal is to blunt a wave of job losses as Obama has said, this is where the money should be spent. It also is the only kind of spending that represents a lasting investment, one that will benefit the future taxpayers who will be footing the bill for this borrowed spending.
Well I got to call bullshit on this. Unless someone out there can actually present a list of spending that supports either number. 5% of the bill adds up to about $45 billion. Is that really all that is being spent on job creation? Maybe if you limit your definition to roads and bridges. But buildings have lasting utility and create jobs. And some services have lasting utilities and researchers and teachers fill jobs. But even absent that is there really $300 billion in social programs in this bill? Well lets see. Using real numbers.
Under the House Bill spending is divided into Division A which are basically contracts and Division B which is direct government spending. Looking from the top down how does that break out? In the following I will give the total for the category (plus obvious social spending).
Title 1 $248 million General Provisions
Title 2 $27 billion Agriculture, Nutrition, Rural Development ($20 billion Supplemental Nutrition Assistance)
Title 3 $14 billion Commerce, Science, Justice
Title 4 $4.8 billion Defense
Title 5 $49 billion Energy and Water
Title 6 $8.5 billion Financial Services and Federal Building
Title 7 $1.1 billion Homeland Security
Title 8 $14.5 billion Interior and Environment
Title 9 $91 billion Labor and Education ($71 billion excluding school construction)
Title 10 $7 billion Military Construction and Veterans Affairs
Title 11 $500 million State Department
Title 12 $59 billion Transportation and HUD ($11 billion Housing Assistance, $5 billion Community Development)
Title 13 $39 billion State Fiscal Stabilization (???)
Total $358 billion.
First we are not really getting very far towards that $300 billion in social spending. And that figure of $45 billion for infrastructure is clearly bogus unless you simply limit your focus to Title 12 and ignore all spending on government buildings, schools, energy (including the smart grid), water projects (because levees and dams are infrastructure) and broadband build out.
Title 1 $79 billion Tax Provisions
Title 2 $45.6 billion Unemployment and Struggling families ($45.6 billion)
Title 3 $13 billion Health Insurance for the Unemployed ($13 billion)
Title 4 $20 billion Health Information Technology (???)
Title 5 $89 billion Medicaid ($89 billion)
Total $248 billion
So we can see at least $218 billion in what could immediately be labeled Social Programs. But that includes $20 billion in food stamps, $58 billion in spending on the unemployed, and $89 billion on medicare. Now maybe some of that can be pared back but I don’t know of anyone who seriously says we should let the jobless and working poor just starve or go without access to medical care. Plus a lot of the Title 12 spending on Housing Assistance and Community Development ends up funding infrastructure. Making the following kind of heartless “$300 billion targeted for social programs, many of them Democratic favorites, would not generate much immediate economic activity” as well as being economic nonsense. Huge percentages of that total (however derived) are directly injected into the economy in purchases of food, household essentials, utility payments and rent. The only pool of money that remotely meets the description of Democratic favored social programs (as opposed to not letting people starve, which ideally is not a partisan issue) is the money in Title 9 Labor and Education. Which I will break out under the fold.
Improving teacher quality, providing additional cash for Head Start and promoting wellness, for example, are standard government social-spending items that have little to do with stimulating instantaneous economic activity. Democrats are simply expanding spending on their traditional priorities under the cover of an economic emergency.
Quite apart from the ridiculous implication that these items even remotely start adding up to $300 billion, the premise is not very sound to start with. I believe it was Ken who linked to a study showing the direct economic benefits from Head Start. But in any event what are the dollars involved.
Title 9 breaks down into the following categories:
$20 billion Health and Human Services
$4.6 billion Employment and Training Administration
$20 billion School Modernization and Repair
$17 billion Student Aid
$30 billion Other Education
$600 million Other Title 9
Given that no one seriously is proposing eliminating student loans and that School Modernization is both infrastructure and would stimulate economic activity (if not instantaneously, someone is smoking tax cut weed) we seem to be left with some $50 billion that potentially fits the Dispatches description. So lets take it down a level.
Subtitle A Labor
$500 million State grants for training and employment programs
$1.2 billion State grants for youth job programs and other activities (youth defined as 24 or younger)
$1 billion State Grants for training dislocated workers
$500 million national dislocated worker reserve fund
$50 million YouthBuild program
$750 million Training and placement in high tech and emerging industry sectors
$120 million Community Service Employment for Older Americans
$500 million State unemployment administration
$80 million Administration
$300 million Job Corps
Subtitle B Health and Human Services
$500 million Grants to Health Centers
$1 billion Renovation and Repair of Health Centers
$88 million Equipping new headquarters of the Public Health Service
$600 million Training nurses, doctors and dentists
$462 million Center for Disease Control for equipment, construction and renovation
$1.5 billion National Center for Research Resources for renovation and repair of non-Federal Research facilities
$1.5 billion Office of the Director for research grants
$600 million NIH buildings and facilities
$700 million Comparative effectiveness research
$1 billion Low Income Home Energy Assistance (1981 Act)
$2 billion Child Care block grants to States
$1 billion Head Start
$1.1 billion expansion of Early Head Start
$1 billion Community Services Block Grants
$100 million Faith Based and Community Groups
$200 million Aging Services (1965 Act)
$2 billion Information Technology
$900 million Public Health and Social Services Emergencies Fund
$3 billion Prevention and Wellness Fund
But lets see how this breaks down: $2.35 billion to the Center for Disease Control including $954 million for immunization and $554 million for chronic disease, health promotion and genomics programs
Subtitle C Education
$13 billion Education for the Disadvantaged (pursuant to the ESEA Act of 1965)
$100 million Impact Aid (offsets the impact of local military bases not paying property tax)
$1 billion School Improvement (this relates to a Homeless act, how exactly I don’t know)
$225 million Innovation and Improvement
$13.6 billion Special Education
$700 million Rehabilitation and Disability Research (getting the disabled into the work force)
$16 billion Student Aid for College Students (Pell grants)
$50 million Student Aid Administration
$100 million Higher Education
$250 million Education Technical Assistance Act (statewide data systems)
Where the hell is the wishlist here? This is overwhelmingly continuing funding for existing programs. I don’t even see an obvious place for the Dispatch’s “improving teacher quality”, maybe it is somewhere in that rather mysterious $1 bn for ‘school improvement’. As for Head Start we are talking $2.1 billion or about .25% of the bill. And “wellness” seems to be just tucked in with the wider program to tackle chronic diseases.
Once again we can see that these anti-stimulus people are not even cherry-picking, instead they are digging deep into the bill to pick nits. The categories of spending the Dispatch editorial writer is point out as support for his advice to “Start over” represent less than 1% of the total package. (And BTW the guy swallows the Fama argument whole). Each and everytime some one expresses outrage over some line item “tax breaks for Hollywood!” or “teacher quality” to try to make people think the whole bill is just payback to campaign supporters. Instead the argument is just bogosity, bluster and bullshit meant as a stalking horse for tax cuts (which is what he means when he says “private-sector jobs”).
This is just not an economic argument. And sorry I still can’t taste the liverwurst.