By Tyler S. Clark (Contact)
Published January 26, 2009
Monday we got word that American companies shed 62,000 jobs, including 800 from shift cuts at General Motors' Lordstown plant. The companies include Caterpillar, Sprint Nextel, Home Depot, and Texas Instruments. President Obama is using the news to urge speedy passage of his proposed economic stimulus package, while others from both sides debate the size and scope of the plan.
If this package will be as poorly managed as the last one, we should forget it right now. All I've seen is banks buying other banks, and it doesn't seem like any money is being freed up for borrowers. It seems like any kind of money being leveraged through banks should be restricted for lending. I'm no financial expert, but isn't that the goal we're trying to achieve? Can't we write it into the conditions of the program?
Here's a look at the details of the proposed package:
- $32 billion for upgrading the energy grid and investing in renewables
- $16 billion for repairs and increased energy efficiency in public housing
- $6 billion "to weatherize modest-income homes"
- $10 billion for science and research
- $6 billion for expanded access to broadband Internet "in rural and other underserved areas"
- $30 billion to build and expand highways
- $31 billion for public infrastructure modernization "with investments that lead to long term energy cost savings"
- $19 billion for infrastructure issues related to environmental control and restoration
- $10 billion for mass-transit
- $41 billion for local school districts, including improvements in technology and facility modernization and funding for low-income students
- $79 billion "in state fiscal relief to prevent cutbacks to key services"--primarily geared toward education, but with some discretion for $25 billion of it
- $15.6 for Pell grants
- $6 billion for "higher education modernization"
- $20 billion to upgrade health information technology
- $4.1 billion for preventative care and research
- $43 billion to assist the unemployed with benefits and job training
- $39 billion to help unemployed with COBRA healthcare and Medicaid assistance
- $20 billion towards an increase in food stamp benefits
- $87 billion in matching funds for Medicaid to states
- $4 billion for "state and local law enforcement funding"
That takes us up to page four ... of thirteen. It's an interesting list, and it seems like no area of the economy is left out. The sobering thought is that so many of these areas--education, for example--need a complete overhaul to really meet our needs today. Can we possibly address these needs while trying to patch so many leaks? Will we be able to effectively address any long-term needs while fighting fires?
Fortunately, Monday also begins the Year of the Ox--coincidentally President Barack Obama's symbol under the Chinese Zodiac. Here is the poem from Theodora Lau's well-regarded The Handbook of Chinese Horoscopes
Mine is the stablizing force that perpetuates the cycle of life.
I stand immobile against the test of adversity, resolute and unimpeachable.
I seek to serve integrity, to bear the burdens of righteousness.
I abide by the laws of nature patiently pushing the wheel of Fate.
Thus, I shall weave my destiny.
I am the ox.
Let's hope this proves prophetic, and The American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan is both wise and well implemented. We've got a lot of jobs to recover around here.