Friday, October 8, 2010

Unknowns


I've read it several times, several places: People who are outraged over the money spent on the stimulus bill have no idea what was actually in it; and when they are informed, they like pretty much everything about it. Except, I guess, to the extent they still believe the Reagan/Bush lie that they can have it for free, that we can survive as a nation without even the teeniest of sacrifices.

Along those lines, there's an informative piece in a recent Time Magazine:

.....Yes, the stimulus has cut taxes for 95% of working Americans, bailed out every state, hustled record amounts of unemployment benefits and other aid to struggling families and funded more than 100,000 projects to upgrade roads, subways, schools, airports, military bases and much more. But in the words of Vice President Joe Biden, Obama's effusive Recovery Act point man, "Now the fun stuff starts!" The "fun stuff," about one-sixth of the total cost, is an all-out effort to exploit the crisis to make green energy, green building and green transportation real; launch green manufacturing industries; computerize a pen-and-paper health system; promote data-driven school reforms; and ramp up the research of the future. "This is a chance to do something big, man!" Biden said during a 90-minute interview with TIME.

For starters, the Recovery Act is the most ambitious energy legislation in history, converting the Energy Department into the world's largest venture-capital fund. It's pouring $90 billion into clean energy, including unprecedented investments in a smart grid; electric cars; renewable power from the sun, wind and earth; cleaner coal; advanced biofuels; and factories to manufacture green stuff in the U.S. The act will also triple the number of smart electric meters in our homes, quadruple the number of hybrids in the federal auto fleet and finance far-out energy research through a new government incubator modeled after the Pentagon agency that fathered the Internet....

...The stimulus is also stocked with nonenergy game changers, like a tenfold increase in funding to expand access to broadband and an effort to sequence more than 2,300 complete human genomes - when only 34 were sequenced with all previous aid. There's $8 billion for a high-speed passenger rail network, the boldest federal transportation initiative since the interstate highways. There's $4.35 billion in Race to the Top grants to promote accountability in public schools, perhaps the most significant federal education initiative ever - it's already prompted 35 states and the District of Columbia to adopt reforms to qualify for the cash. There's $20 billion to move health records into the digital age, which should reduce redundant tests, dangerous drug interactions and errors caused by doctors with chicken-scratch handwriting. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius calls that initiative the foundation for reform and "maybe the single biggest component in improving quality and lowering costs."

Any of those programs would have been a revolution in its own right. "We've seen more reform in the last year than we've seen in decades, and we haven't spent a dime yet," says Education Secretary Arne Duncan. "It's staggering how the Recovery Act is driving change."

..... .... Obama has spent most of his first term trying to clean up messes - in the Gulf of Mexico, Iraq and Afghanistan, on Wall Street and Main Street - but the details in the stimulus plan are his real down payment on change. The question is which changes will last. Will electric cars disappear after the subsidies disappear? Will advanced battery factories migrate back to China? Will bullet trains ever get built? The President wants to extend transformative programs like ARPA-E. But would they be substitutes for the status quo or just additions to tack onto the deficit? And would they survive a Republican Congress?

Polls suggest the actual contents of the Recovery Act are popular. But the idea of the stimulus itself remains toxic - and probably will as long as the recovery remains tepid. "Today, it's judged by jobs," Rogers says of the act. "But in 10 years, it'll be judged by whether it transformed our economy."


There's enough meat in the quite-long article to feed both sides of the debate -- if, that is, it actually were a debate. Needed? Necessary? Let's argue. But where is there evidence in any of it -- ANY OF IT -- that this is some sort of evil plan to take down America? The opposition, rather than adding value, is reduced to hyperventilating and making up ghost stories; taking words out of context, sending paranoid emails back and forth among themselves (having to use their non-dominant hands, I'd assume.) Manipulating sheeple at will.

So who is more likely to take us down? Those that are actually trying to improve education, energy, health care, transportation, all of it, effectively or not; or those making stuff up and screaming about it, without proposing a damn thing other than tax cuts for the wealthy? Which, y'know, worked out so well when Ronnie and GWB tried 'em.




2 comments:

Frank Drackman said...

WOW!! it must be true if it's in TIME magazine...
and its like how my wife spends $500 on shoes she could get at Payless for $7.99, eventhough they look good, ummm OK, now i'm actin more Alzheim-ery than you...where was I?? oh yeah, TIME MAGAZINE!
Which I didn't know was still in print to tell you the truth, and I'm still not convinced it's a 1987 issue left over from your waiting room cause Biden was sayin the same nonsense back then before he got caught stealing an English Socialists campaign speaches......
Green Energy? I'll believe it when Air Force One stops burning the same JP-4 that powered those smoky F-4 Phantoms your rode in when you were in the Nam'...
Or when YOU get a Prius, or a Volt, and I know, your afraid the electric motor will make your pacemaker go all catty-wompus...
I'm sorry, that was age-ist of me...
it'll make your ICD go crazier than Bernie Sanders with a headful of Acid...(and that's probably the only time you'll see "ICD" and Bernie Sanders in the same sentence)
and talk about wasted money, I wrote a $1,000 check to the Christy Oconnell campaign...
Well Mrs. Drackman did, shes been wantin to get into the political side of Nursing..

Frank

Anonymous said...

Did Mrs. D graduate from the University of Oxford too?

Same sorority?

Wiccan too?

Also a constitutional scholar?

Fun girls HuH?

EugeneInSanDiego

(Been on Vacation)

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