My fellow Americans, details are emerging for the second economic stimulus plan endorsed by President Obama, and the majority of members of the United States Congress. From the sounds of it, this economic stimulus plan will dwarf the costs of the first stimulus plan, and the first bailout, combined!
This time around the plan calls for massive government spending–to the tune of $825,000,000,000. Yes, that is a lot of zeroes–almost one trillion dollars! In fact, the figure has so many zeroes that it is hard for us to wrap our brains around just how much money that represents. Consider the following example.
If our government spent one million dollars a day, every single day, it would take 2,260 years to spend $825 billion. That’s right; 2,260 years! If the bailout reaches $1 trillion it will be more like 2,740 years. So not only will our children and grandchildren be paying for this so-called stimulus bill, but our future generations will be paying for this bill for decades. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think it is right to leave our children with the burden of cleaning up our own mess–even if that means our lives will get a little tougher in the near term.
To suggest this new stimulus plan should be scrapped altogether is politically unpopular. After all, many out there believe we have already suffered enough. And it is true that many really have suffered in the form of lay offs, foreclosures and other forms of financial hardships. I get that.
However, at some point I think we need to ask ourselves what the objective is here. Is it an attempt to spend ourselves out of a recession? Is it an attempt to nationalize more industry and a good portion of the labor force? Is it a short-term solution that will cause more long term harm? Political parties will likely clash over the details of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Bill of 2009.
It is the details that many average citizens are unaware of, and should be more highly publicized. Whether or not you agree with the cause, I think you will find the obligated amounts staggering. Here are a few examples:
- Job Corps Facilities: $300 million to upgrade job training facilities serving at-risk youth while improving energy efficiency.
- Education for the 21st Century: $41 billion to local school districts through Title I ($13 billion), IDEA ($13 billion), a new School Modernization and Repair Program ($14 billion), and the Education Technology program ($1 billion).
- Transform our Economy with Science and Technology: $6 billion to expand broadband internet access so businesses in rural and other underserved areas can link up to the global economy.
- National Treasures: $400 million, including $200 million to address the deterioration of the National Mall, such as repair of the Jefferson Memorial’s collapsing Tidal Basin walls; $150 million to address the repair backlog at the Smithsonian; and $50 million for the National Endowment for the Arts.
- Smart Appliances: $300 million to provide consumers with rebates for buying energy efficient Energy Star products to replace old appliances, which will lower energy bills.
- Clean, Efficient, American Energy: $6 billion to weatherize modest-income homes.
- Pell Grants: $15.6 billion to increase the maximum Pell Grant by $500, from $4,850 to $5,350
- College Work-Study: $490 million to support undergraduate and graduate students who work.
Frightening. They toss around amounts like “millions” and “billions” as if they are trivial expenditures. Where will this money come from? If we raise taxes, what will be the effect on new business and entrepreneurship in this country? If we don’t raise taxes, and instead continue the trend of deficit spending, what will happen to value of our currency over the long term? I recognize I am a simple guy, but I don’t get the feeling these things have been properly analyzed in the interest of quickly pushing through a massive spending bill.
I don’t pretend to have all the answers. Just as none of us are solely responsible for the current recession, none of us could single-handedly solve the economic ills of today. However, what we can do is demand more fiscal restraint from our elected officials. If you and I spent money at this same rate when we were already in debt we would go bankrupt. Unfortunately, those same rules don’t apply to government. Or, maybe they do. I guess time will tell. The problem is, we won’t be the ones to suffer for our national spending spree, that will be left to the generations who come after us.