Over the weekend, Paul Krugman penned
a column on the proposed $825 billion stimulus bill in
which he noted that “many of the plan’s opponents aren’t arguing in
good faith,” adding that "they are reaching for any stick they can find with which to beat proposals for ...
Over the weekend, Paul Krugman penned a column on the proposed $825 billion stimulus bill in which he noted that “many of the plan’s opponents aren’t arguing in good faith,” adding that "they are reaching for any stick they can find with which to beat proposals for increased government spending."
Case in point: North Shore Congressman Mark Kirk.
Last week, Kirk sent out 11 anti-stimulus talking points to Republican members of the House Appropriations Committee. It's too bad that the usually-sharp Greg Hinz chose to regurgitate some of them in his Crains’ column yesterday:
A couple of days ago, Mr. Kirk circulated a memo noting that, even if the Obama plan saves or creates the claimed 3.7 million jobs, the cost to taxpayers will be $222,972 per job. And even if the feds get the money out the door at a record pace, only $26 billion of the $550 billion in proposed new spending will be spent in fiscal 2009, with a whopping $60 billion not spent until after Mr. Obama’s first term ends, Mr. Kirk says. Sobering stuff, no?
Sobering? More like extremely misleading.
First of all, both Krugman and the American Prospect’s Dean Baker have debunked the GOP claim that every new job created by Obama’s plan would cost over $200,000. As they’ve pointed out, the underlying calculation doesn’t factor in the predicted rise in GDP as a result of the stimulus. Moreover, the arithmetic ignores that Obama’s job creation estimates are spread over two years -- not one. Here’s Krugman’s analogy:
It’s as if an opponent of the school lunch program were to take an estimate of the cost of that program over the next five years, then divide it by the number of lunches provided in just one of those years, and assert that the program was hugely wasteful, because it cost $13 per lunch. (The actual cost of a free school lunch, by the way, is $2.57.)
Second, Kirk’s claim in the memo that only $26 billion will be spent in FY 2009 is sourced to a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report on Obama’s stimulus plan. One little problem, though: it doesn’t exist, as Huffington Post’s Ryan Grim reported on Friday:
“We did not issue any report, any analysis or any study,” a CBO aide told the Huffington Post.
Rather, the nonpartisan CBO ran a small portion of an earlier version of the stimulus plan through a computer program that uses a standard formula to determine a score—how quickly money will be spent. The score only dealt with the part of the stimulus headed for the Appropriations Committee and left out the parts bound for the Ways and Means or Energy and Commerce Committee.
Because it dealt with just a part of the stimulus, it estimated the spending rate for only about $300 billion of the $825 billion plan. Significant changes have been made to the part of the bill the CBO looked at.
So Kirk’s opposition to the stimulus is founded on faulty arithmetic and a non-existent CBO report. Classic. After all, this is the same guy who we’ve caught again and again misleading Illinois residents about autoworker compensation, unemployment benefits, offshore oil drilling, and the health care crisis.
It’s time the local media called Kirk out on his BS, rather then just repeating it.
UPDATE: The actual CBO report on the House stimulus was released yesterday and found that about two-thirds of the recovery investment would come in the 18 months after enactment.