The Trillion-Dollar Stimulus


The Wall Street Journal has a gruesome article today that pushes the stimulus price tag into 10-figure la-la land and lists in depressing detail the Lobbyists Gone Wild on Capitol Hill this week.

The magnitude of the spending bill, and its urgency, drew a swarm of lobbyists seeking money and tax breaks. The concrete and asphalt industries battled over how the government should spend billions proposed for road and bridge repairs, while dairy and beef cattle producers butted heads over talk that the government might buy up dairy cattle for slaughter to drive up depressed milk prices. Unions backed infrastructure spending. States sought budget bailouts. […]

"I would love to not have to spend this money," Mr. Obama said, according to individuals familiar with the president's meetings with Republicans.

Hmmm. The reluctant interventionist. Where have we heard that one before?

Meanwhile, the Volokh Conspiracy's Ilya Somin asks a relevant question for those dwindling few who care about recent legislative history and spending tax money wisely: Whatever happened to the last big infrastructure bill?

These days, we are repeatedly told that we have to pass a massive new infrastructure spending bill in order to fix our "crumbling" roads and bridges. Everyone seems to have forgotten that just three years ago, in August 2005, Congress enacted the biggest federal public works program in American history, spending a massive $286.4 billion on the 2005 highway bill. At that time, President Bush and congressional leaders from both parties told us that the new highway bill would fix our infrastructure problems.

Finally, over at the Reason Foundation's Out of Control blog, number-cruncher Anthony Randazzo breaks down the (many) costs and (few) benefits of a stimulus he currently estimates at $1.1 trillion.