Tuesday, January 27, 2009

NY Times Deconstructs the US Economic Stimulus Plan

Obama’s new U.S. economic stimulus proposal has been a hot topic in the blogging community lately, and for good reason. New York Times author Lee Teslik recently took a detailed look at the plan and has put together offering great insight. You can find an excerpt of it below, but the full text can be found here.

Obama's plan aims to stimulate employment, certain critical economic sectors, and U.S. consumer spending. It specifies $550 billion in spending on new projects and $275 billion in tax cuts. The initial plan (PDF) includes investments for:

Energy, including $32 billion to transform the U.S. energy grid to make it more efficient; $16 billion to repair public housing and make it more energy efficient; and $6 billion to weatherize low-income homes;

Science and technology, including $10 billion for new scientific facilities and $6 billion to improve broadband Internet access in rural areas;

Infrastructure, including $30 billion for highways; $31 billion to modernize federal buildings and other public infrastructure; $19 billion for clean water, flood control, and other environmental investments; and $10 billion to improve public transit and rail infrastructure;

Education, including $41 billion for local school districts, $79 billion in outlays to states to prevent educational service cutbacks; $15.6 billion to broaden the federal Pell Grant program, which gives need-based grants to fund education; and $6 billion to modernize higher education programs;

Health care, including $87 billion for Medicaid; $20 billion to improve health information technology; and around $4 billion to improve preventative care.

The plan also includes $140 billion directed toward tax cuts of $500 per worker or $1,000 per family over two years; expanded tax credits for working poor with children; and a $2,500 college tuition credit. The House Ways and Means Committee approved the tax portion of the bill on January 22, though it has yet to pass the entire House of Representatives.

Some analysts say the Obama administration's spending on economic stimulus will be broader than what is included in the stimulus spending plan. "You've got to look at the whole picture," said Adam Posen of the Peterson Institute for International Economics in a January 2009 interview (PDF). Posen and several other analysts have noted that stimulus spending could come in many ways beyond what's in the plan, including:

The Treasury's $700 billion in TARP funds, initially aimed at stabilizing the financial sector, seems likely to be used to provide relief to other industries and "for things that look more like stimulus and less like asset purchases," according to Posen;

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