the visible hand

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Stimulus Won’t Include Earmarks

Posted by ecoshift on January 1, 2009

Biden Says Stimulus Won’t Include Earmarks –

Vice President-elect Joe Biden released new details on the incoming administration’s planned stimulus package, saying 85% of the three million jobs to be generated would be in the private sector and that no pet projects of lawmakers would be accepted.

Mr. Biden met Tuesday with the Obama administration’s economic team as they closed in on a final price tag and set of programs for what will be the largest economic-stimulus proposal since the Depression. The Obama team has been releasing details for a week, in an apparent bid to appear engaged as the economy deteriorates. Senate Democratic leadership aides said the package should be unveiled on or around Jan. 1.

“Without substantial policy action, we would almost certainly face the worst economic downturn since the Second World War,” Lawrence Summers, who is slated to head the National Economic Council, said ahead of the meeting. “That’s why it is imperative that we take action to maintain demand, to maintain jobs, to maintain incomes.”

President-elect Barack Obama has said the package — estimated to cost between $675 billion and $775 billion — will include a middle-class tax cut, large infusions of aid to cash-strapped state and local governments, and spending on bridges, roads, water projects, schools and energy programs.

Melody Barnes, director of the Obama Domestic Policy Council, said Tuesday that some of the funds would be used for preventive health care and health-insurance programs, to ensure that “those who are losing their employer-based health care are supported.”

Messrs. Biden and Summers said the stimulus plan would have measures to track spending on the Internet and ensure funds are spent effectively.

“There will be no earmarks in this economic recovery plan,” Mr. Biden said, referring to pet projects that are often slipped into spending measures by members of Congress. “I know it’s the Christmas season, but President-elect Obama and I are absolutely determined that this economic recovery package will not become a Christmas tree.”


3 Responses to “Stimulus Won’t Include Earmarks”

  1. Interestingly enough, most earmarks are not legally binding anyway.

    They are included in the committee report, and not the legislation, and as such, the President is under no obligation to follow them.

    Politics being what they are, the President does follow the, but the threat of ignoring committee reports should be enough to keep the crap out of there.

  2. ecoshift said


    I’ve certainly seen RFPs in the federal register that were so explicit in criteria that only one project and one organization could qualify for the funding.

    I expect that this effort to limit pork in stimulus packages is a positive step. Despite the logic (or lack of it) behind the Bush admins 150 billion dollar pump for taxpayers early this year, stimulus funds will likely be more effective if they are targeted towards achieving specific strategic goals rather than horse traded for political favors.

    McCain should be happy. We’ll see.

  3. Eric Kirk said

    In theory earmarks shouldn’t be bad for a stimulus plan, if they are tailored to a comprehensive and coherent economic policy. Unfortunately, the problems with them are political rather than economic, in that each state would by vying for earmarks for themselves irregardless of any overall policy considerations, and what you might have with a check so large is an incoherent mush of money going every which way which compromise any multiplier effect a focused stimulus program might have. Of course, any stimulus plan not made in coordination with policies of restructuring the economy might be a complete waste of time anyway.

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