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September 02, 2009

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i was thinking they should put up little signs on every road or building construction project that's paid for with stimulus money: "This Is A Stimulus Project!"

it's non-offensive, and lets people know what's happening to their money.

Yes, this should convince everyone in the Republican infestation of what used to be the polity that government works.

Maria Bartiromo is just now throwing her crib sheets up in the air and declaring the stimulus a rousing success.

More likely .... ah crap, absolutely likely .. is that whomever these people are -- insect aliens wearing the dried-out husks of Republicans public figures we used to know and love -- want, no, crave the massive failure of the U.S. economy just as Dick Cheney is hoping to his perverted God that just now al qaeda is boarding 50 U.S. airplanes with nuclear devices to take out the 50 largest U.S. cities.

There is a black liberal in the White House.

He must fail.

Forger still around.

maybe it's Hilzoy, trying to gauge support for her return.

cleek, actually I have seen many signs stating that "This project funded by" the recovery act.

In addition to trumpeting this loud and clear, it should be pointed out everytime a Republican claims credit for bringing stimulous money to his/her state or district that if they had had their way there wouldn't have been any money to bring.

I agree about the signs.

I agree about what the Demcrats should do. Howver, the Deomcrats should also be fighting for a public option, should have recognized long ago that it is not possible to work withthe Republicans, and should far more openly disdainful of rightwing nuts (a la Barney Frank).

But those in Congress and the White House won't. I don't know why.

cleek, actually I have seen many signs stating that "This project funded by" the recovery act.

that's good to hear.

There's only one of me. I can't be forged; certainly not by the prosaic d'd'd'dave.

"This project funded by the U.S. Government"

I've noticed individuals protesting against any government involvement in healthcare wearing signs pointing out "My pacemaker funded by Medicare".

Yep, there's (at least) one of those signs at the front of some badly-needed highway repair work on I-271 outside of Cleveland.

This is a spectacularly inept troll we've got here. Let's keep him, and laugh and laugh!

We'll see if the Dems actually use this as a political tool. Lately, it seems like neither party can have a combination of both good ideas and the political courage to enact them.

This title and post are misleading. As the article notes -- correctly -- the government spending programs having the greatest current and expected impact are (1) TARP; (2) new financial rules; (3) direct payments to consumers (new home credits); and (4) cash for clunkers. Where do you see infrastructure spending on that list?

By the way, no one argued that infrastructure spending would have no effect. They argued that the money spent for infrastructure would have no where near the effect that its proponents asserted it would -- that other programs would have greater impact. I.e., the money would be better spent on something else.

Those signs are everywhere in Chicago burbs. We curse about the ubiquitous construction zones on our roads, but it does put people to work, and since we have to drive everywhere out here (UNFORTUNATELY), it's good to have the work done, since these roads very much need repair.

It's a point that often gets forgotten in our 'debate' about stimulus: we very very much need a lot of infrastructure work done in this country anyway. We're going to have to do it sometime, and sooner is usually better intrinsically (for physical maintenance), and it will be stimulative whenever we do it.

I think the Dems are kind of afraid of fully acknowledging that the GOP is as politically bankrupt as it actually is. If the opposition party is just a joke (which it certainly is now) who do you (the dems) blame when things go wrong? Who do you 'work with', compromise with, etc.? Republicans are good at pretty much one thing these days: political blood-chess. They can't govern or make policy, but they understand enough psychology to prevent anyone else from doing so particularly well. oh well, you know what George Washington always said: 'Faction above Country!' Nice work, guys!

They argued that the money spent for infrastructure would have no where near the effect that its proponents asserted it would

IIRC the argument was that infrastructure spending wouldn't put the money in circulation fast enough, rather than that it wouldn't achieve the effect predicted for it.

A hopefully relevant aside: Calculated Risk has a pretty good "bang for the buck" analysis of the cash for clunkers and first time home buyer programs.

Net/net: cash for clunkers cost taxpayers about $7200 per car sold that would otherwise not have been sold. The first time home buyers program cost taxpayers about $43.4K per house.

That's a lot of money, but maybe worth it, if you consider all of the downstream stimulus the economy gets from auto manufacturing and construction.

But still, a lot of money.

Regarding signage, I drive through a stimulus funded repaving and bridge repair effort every day, and have done so for the last couple of months. The work needed doing, there's no way the state could have afforded it, and it's keeping a bunch of folks working at a time when work is scarce.

So, all in, the infrastructure stuff makes a lot of sense to me.

This title and post are misleading. ...Where do you see infrastructure spending on that list?

as far as i can tell, neither the title nor the post says anything about infrastructure spending.

This title and post are misleading. As the article notes -- correctly -- the government spending programs having the greatest current and expected impact are (1) TARP; (2) new financial rules; (3) direct payments to consumers (new home credits); and (4) cash for clunkers.

This comment is misleading- the article does not come to conclusions about which programs have been most effective. It does quote a single economist who thinks that the financial rules were more effective than the stimulus.
It is misleading to claim that this is the conclusion of the entire article. It says things such as:
But there's little agreement about which programs are having the biggest impact.

How you get from there to the conclusion that the article definitively supports your position I have no idea.

i was thinking they should put up little signs on every road or building construction project that's paid for with stimulus money: "This Is A Stimulus Project!"

This is a requirement for ARRA funding (more or less - the exact wording varies a bit). I have a transit project receiving ARRA funding administered through FTA. In fact, all FTA projects require a sign of a very specific design (dimensions, colors, layout) stating the FTA project number, regardless of ARRA. The ARRA projects' signs must additionally bear the seal of Recovery.org as do all bid and contract documents.

This is a requirement for ARRA funding

so i guess that means there aren't any participating projects anywhere in my little part of NC. seems odd, since i see a lot of road resurfacing and widening, bridge fixing, etc. these days.

oh well. :)

so i guess that means there aren't any participating projects anywhere in my little part of NC.

At least none in compliance with the requirement or very effectively so. (Maybe the signs are in the woods somewhere.) My project covers 11 or so miles of right-of-way, so I'm not sure where the sign(s) will go. But I'd assume there may be visible work going on in places without a sign in sight.

Yeah, didn't the wingnuts have some kind of Photoshop contest for making fun of the signs identifying these projects?

Oh yeah, it was Malkin, with an assist from the inmates at Redstate.

Saw those signs on I-80 coming through Donner Pass on our way to/from Reno this weekend. (Burning Man send-off for our friends, not gambling...) That's a road that needed some help. It looks like the new surface will be asphalt instead of the completely wrecked concrete surface that was there before.

Unfortunately thanks to Schwarzenegger and the other psycho anti-tax Republicans here local CA governments are going to lack money for fixing potholes on surface streets, which presumably means the usual car-eating potholes that open up in the winter in Oakland will now grow to immense proportions and consume us all.

as far as i can tell, neither the title nor the post says anything about infrastructure spending.

That was the only partisan aspect of the debate .... and, although I agree with you that "Government Worked" is a bit vague, that's how everyone seems to be understanding Publius' argument, i.e., vindicating the Democrats infrastructure spending.

This title and post are misleading. As the article notes -- correctly -- the government spending programs having the greatest current and expected impact are (1) TARP; (2) new financial rules; (3) direct payments to consumers (new home credits); and (4) cash for clunkers.

This comment is misleading- the article does not come to conclusions about which programs have been most effective. It does quote a single economist who thinks that the financial rules were more effective than the stimulus.
It is misleading to claim that this is the conclusion of the entire article. It says things such as:
But there's little agreement about which programs are having the biggest impact.

Carleton, there's a difference between identifying which factors are discussed in the article as having an impact and the article noting that there is no agreement regarding which factor had the most significant impact .... that's the difference between my comment being "misleading" (your claim) and being "accurate" (the fact). The fact of the matter is that infrastructure spending is not mentioned anywhere in the article, and, yet, that Publius' argues has been vindicated.

It's too soon to tell if the stimulus is doing much good or not, an upward tick in manufacturing in August, with a slight downtick in unemployment doesn't mean much at all, especially after months of negative economic contractions, and at a time when manufacturing orders traditionally spike for the Christmas holidays. It would be nice if, indeed, a recovery was in the making, but you shouldn't let the 'stimulus' stimulate a premature ejaculation of optimism all over your shorts until significant numbers of people are hired back for full-time non-seasonal work -- or to paraphrase Cuba Gooding Jr., show me the JOBS!!!

"...but you shouldn't let the 'stimulus' stimulate a premature ejaculation of optimism all over your shorts..."
Too much metaphor stimulus. 8}

Well, yes, preventing the parasitic banking sector from completely collapsing has probably done more to stave off another Great Depression than infrastructure spending, so far. However, infrastructure spending puts more money in regular people's pockets, and gives us something lasting, rather than just paying off bank CEOs who pocket big chunks of the bailouts in "bonus" money.

Are is it analogy?

Carleton, there's a difference between identifying which factors are discussed in the article as having an impact and the article noting that there is no agreement regarding which factor had the most significant impact .... that's the difference between my comment being "misleading" (your claim) and being "accurate" (the fact). The fact of the matter is that infrastructure spending is not mentioned anywhere in the article, and, yet, that Publius' argues has been vindicated.

First, you made a positive assertion- that the article argues that the programs you mentioned have had the greatest current and expected impact. Im not sure how you think you can argue now the article not[es] that there is no agreement regarding which factor had the most significant impact. Maybe you want to take this von guy behind the woodshed for claiming the article did have strong conclusions about which programs were most effective. Unlike publius's post, which contained no such assertions.

Second, About $200 billion has been promised to certain projects, such as infrastructure and energy projects. That sounds like a "mention." And while it doesn't specifically break out infrastructure elsewhere when discussing future spending, it is actually 'misleading' to suggest that therefore the article either has no thoughts about infrastructure spending (lumped into larger categories) or that it concludes that infrastructure spending is not effective.

Third, publius argues in this post that the stimulus as proposed was a good idea. I don't see that he argued that it was the perfect stimulus, just that passing it was much better than not passing it. If he had argued that the article said that the infrastructure spending was spot on, he'd be guilty of *your* offense ie reading his own opinions into the article's conclusion. But he didn't do that- you did.

"However, infrastructure spending puts more money in regular people's pockets..."
...and takes it out of "regular people's pockets" at some point in the future.

"...and takes it out of "regular people's pockets" at some point in the future">

Well, not really. Certainly no more so than, say, tax cuts that only have the effect of concentrating wealth at the very top. And infrastructure is something that's actually created, and is an investment that we will get to keep using for years.

Seriously, if you want to get uptight about things taking money "out of people's pockets" later on, there's a lot of better places to look.

Arg...

The point of the bill wasn't purely for stimulus. The goal was to find projects that would have long term benefit anyway and then use those for stimulus. Getting people who don't normally buy new cars into new, fuel efficient ones helps start the transformation of our national fleet into a smaller, more fuel efficient ones. Infrastructure projects, while they are slower to provide their stimulus to the economy, have a long lasting effect. Good roads and high speed trains can help revitalizes communities well into the future. In addition, they take the burden off of states which can no longer maintain necessary projects.

von:
[Infrastructure spending] was the only partisan aspect of the debate

On what planet? Lots on the right questioned the need to do any sort of stimulus at all, and of those who did support "stimulus," they wanted all tax cuts, with no spending of any kind. And by the way, they didn't want the tax cuts targeted. As I recall, Pence, Boehner and Company were arguing for stimulating the economy by cutting corporate income taxes. So I don't see how you conclude that the "only" partisan aspect of the debate was the very narrow point of infrastructure spending.

Jay Jerome:

The slight downtick in unemployment isn't good news -- it's owed not to people finding jobs, but to people giving up looking. If someone stops looking for work, they don't officially count as "unemployed," even if they have no job and want one.

"The slight downtick in unemployment isn't good news -- it's owed not to people finding jobs, but to people giving up looking."

While I'm sympathetic to this thought I seriously doubt it could be supported with facts.

While I'm sympathetic to this thought I seriously doubt it could be supported with facts.

This couldn't be further from the truth.

* U1: Percentage of labor force unemployed 15 weeks or longer.

* U2: Percentage of labor force who lost jobs or completed temporary work.

* U3: Official unemployment rate per ILO definition.

* U4: U3 + "discouraged workers", or those who have stopped looking for work because current economic conditions make them believe that no work is available for them.

* U5: U4 + other "marginally attached workers", or "loosely attached workers", or those who "would like" and are able to work, but have not looked for work recently.

* U6: U5 + Part time workers who want to work full time, but cannot due to economic reasons.

To add to that, you can query this data here:

http://www.bls.gov/webapps/legacy/cpsatab12.htm

Although it doesn't appear they have August's numbers online yet.

"The slight downtick in unemployment isn't good news -- it's owed not to people finding jobs, but to people giving up looking."

my anecdotal evidence: i was laid-off (outsourced) in mid July and i haven't even begun to look yet. i haven't worn socks for anything except running in a month. the severance and my lingering disgust with working for The Man has kept me happily out of the market.

i realize my circumstances are not universal.

Ah, publius, were it true.

There is no way to sell how much worse things would've been with current things still not good.

America doesn't listen to "economists" anymore. And really, why should they? None of the ones who were right more often than not get any public exposure.

Man the barricades, folks.

Took a small vacation to South Dakota recently and my god, I-90 has more construction than I've ever seen on an interstate. None of it was explicitly marked as stimulus infrastructure spending, but there's no way that much country road was getting revitalized without it.

Also:

i haven't worn socks for anything except running in a month.

Perks of having a job where you can wear sandals to the office ;)

By the way, no one argued that infrastructure spending would have no effect. They argued that the money spent for infrastructure would have no where near the effect that its proponents asserted it would -- that other programs would have greater impact. I.e., the money would be better spent on something else.

That's somewhat of an argument to have although it isn't really a great one. Infrastructure spending helps to increase economic capacity (it's somewhat of an investment) plus it's not something the private economy spends money on so the impact of deficit spending on private investment is somewhat nullified. It's not like choosing to build a bridge now rather than 5 years from now changes calculations much.

The best thing to do is a combination of the two ideas. Things that provide immediate stimulus (things that put money directly in people's pockets) and things that increase economic capacity (spending related to increasing human capital and infrastructure)

As for the "partisan" debate. Who cares? Who won the policy debate?

As for the unemployment sidebar, U6 unemployment also shrank, so you have to be more specific than simply saying "people gave up looking."

There are tons of reasons for the labor market to shrink. Early retirement, going back to school, becoming a homemaker (for some people a dual income house is a luxury more then a necessity) etc. With long recessions, people end up making long term decisions.

I suppose at some point the stimulus was going to "work", for sufficiently low values of "work". Now the question is, was it cost effective, given that we've just spend most of our nation's remaining borrowing capacity, and saddled the next generation with even worse debt?

Just because the thing you bought accomplished a little of what you bought it for, doesn't mean it was necessarily worth maxing out your credit cards to buy. We might be in a slightly better place now, than if there'd been no stimulus, assuming the predictions of what would happen without a stimulus were accurate. (Since the predictions of where we'd be now WITH the stimulus weren't, I've got my doubts.) We're going to be in a worse place for decades to come because of it, though.

"The point of the bill wasn't purely for stimulus. The goal was to find projects that would have long term benefit anyway and then use those for stimulus."

The point of the bill was stimulus. The secondary spending like infrastructure three years out should have been part of the normal budget process.

Once the financial system was stabilized, the economy was going to begin to stabilize in the second half of 2009 and then pick up pace in 2010. The minimal stimulus that actually has occurred did save some key local jobs (firefighters, etc.)and surely pumped a little money into the economy.

The one thing you have to give to the Administration is they bet big on all of that being true and were right. But they never suggested the stimulus was enough for recovery, just to stop the bleeding.

From a political standpoint, well played.

From a stimulus standpoint, just politics.

We're going to be in a worse place for decades to come because of it, though.

As opposed to the wonders of the US economy 1929-1939?

It's nice to see the WSJ maintain some intellectual honesty by the very act of publishing this story. It's amazing to me that the WSJ folks can't always immediately see that gov't spending is meant to help them too---indeed primarily within the constraints of 20th-century Am. liberalism. Anyway, thanks to Publius for re-posting this. - TL

Ok, how did 2.5 Republican Senators vote for the stimulus bill? I have no problem believing that some of them aren't all there, but I thought they still got full votes... :)

I would like to point out here that some of the quickest stimulus money, the aid to states to avoid layoffs and budget crunches, was roundly opposed by the Republicans, and pointlessly cut by the same "moderates" in the Senate to make a nice round number and so they could say they made it "less expensive" while also making it less good.

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