Congress is getting ready to serve up a massive stimulus package — possibly in the neighborhood of $700 billion. Get ready for a giant Capitol Hill feeding frenzy — the mother of all earmark orgies.
How much economic growth it stimulates may be beside the point, from the point of view of many of the politicians involved.
The package is expected to contain a heavy dose of infrastructure spending, cash for state governments facing big deficits, spending for "green" technology such as solar and wind power and the like, and middle-class tax cuts.
In a radio address last month, President-elect Barack Obama said, "We'll put people back to work rebuilding our crumbling roads and bridges; modernizing schools that are failing our children; and building wind farms and solar panels, fuel-efficient cars and the alternative energy technologies that can free us from our dependence on foreign oil and keep our economy competitive in the years ahead."
The main part of the package is expected to be infrastructure spending, which is fine. Let's have more roads and better bridges. This will put some people to work, and even if it doesn't do much directly or quickly to lift the economy, it will create assets that will last for years and improve the nation's efficiency. It will increase our stock of basic capital.
Spending on "green" endeavors, however, could be downright wasteful.
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