Saturday, February 07, 2009

Reading The Stimulus Bill

I found a link to H.R. 1, the stimulus package, in the form passed by the House of Representatives. It's a 647 page .pdf file, so I figured I would just link to it and c&p relevant passages as I read. I took a long nap today, so other than a stint getting ready for a big breakfast tomorrow at church, and some time with the wife, I might be up tonight putting this together. Of course, the parts I think are interesting and/or important might not seem so to others, so the link is there for others to use. Have fun! I already am.

Sec 1102 is entitled "Preference for Quick Start Activities", and reads in part:
In using funds made available in this Act for infrastructure investment, recipients shall give preference to activities that can be started and completed expeditiously, including a goal of using at least 50 percent of the funds for activities that can be initiated no later than 120 days after the date of the enactment of this Act.(emphasis added)

So much for "none of the money will be spent right away!"

The next sentence, the last in this section of the Bill, is also important:
Recipients shall also use grant funds in a manner that maximizes job creation and economic benefit.(emphasis added)

So it's an actual law that monies appropriated by this bill will go to job creation. If no government has ever in the history of the universe created a job (according to Michael Steele), then is this just wishful thinking, willful lying, or is Michael Steele full of crap? I'll let you decide that one . . .

Sec. 1104 is entitled "Use It or Lose It Requirements For Grantees", and after outlining the details of what this means, and allowing for unused funds to go back in to a general fund for redistribution under the rules set forth, lists the following types of specific grants that would be funded. While there are no specific dollar amounts here, I thought a list of a few of the grantees might be interesting (BTW, for those of a legal bent, this is subsection (c) of section 1104.
(1) Environmental Protection Agency - State and Tribal Protection Grants
(2) Department of Transportation - Federal Aviation Administration - Grants-in-Aid for airports
(3) Department of Transportation - Federal Railroad Administration - Capital Assistance for Intercity Passenger Rail Service
(4) Department of Transportation - Federal Transit Administration - Capital Investment Grants
(7) Department of Housing and Urban Development - Public and Indian Housing - Public Housing Capital Fund
(8) Department of Housing and Urban Development - Public and Indian Housing - Elderly, Disabled, and Section 8 Assisted Housing Energy Retrofit
(11) Department of Housing and Urban Development - Community Planning and Development - Self-Help and Assisted Homeownership Opportunity Program

All those conservative critics are right. All this is a complete waste of time and money. What jobs are going to be created retrofitting assisted living facilities to be more energy efficient? What possible use would there be in giving monies to municipalities that want to maintain and improve their commuter rail service? Whose going to work on that and get paid for it? No jobs here, a complete waste of time.

My guess is that specific dollar amounts aren't mentioned because they are provided for in other legislation authorizing these programs in the first place. Perhaps they are federal matching funds, or can only be appropriated up to a certain limit. The reason I say this is in section 1107, specific appropriations are made for the offices of Inspectors General in various Departments: $22.5 million for the Office of Inspector General at Agriculture; $10 million for the Commerce Department; $15 million for Defense, among others.

Section 1109 lists prohibited uses, and includes casions, aquariums, zoos, golf courses and swimming pools as not able to be funded with appropriations under this section.

Section 1110 is part of the controversial "Buy American" provisions, in this case, iron and steel. My guess is that this will casue trouble in the WTO.

Subtitle B is entitled "Accountability in Recovery Act Spending" and spells out in detail the transparency and oversight/audit requirements for funds allocated. So, at least it won't be like the post-Iraq War no bid contracts done in camera.

Title II deals specifically with the Department of Agriculture, separate the provisions made in section 1106. Specifically, it refers to "Agriculture Buildings and Facilities and Rental Payments" to the tune of $44,000,000. An additional $209 million dollars is appropriated for deferred maintenance and repairs to agriculture buildings, facilities, and research sites.

Title IV deals with appropriations of $1.5 billion for facilities maintenance, repair, and upgrades.

For the Department of Energy, there is an appropriation of $18.5 billion dollars, specifically for renewable energy research and development. In addition to these outlays, an additional $4.5 billion for upgrading the electrical grid (seems someone remembers the east coast blackout a few years back). There is an appropriation of $2.5 billion for carbon capture and sequestration technology demonstration.

Title VI deals with GSA and other governmental expenses. Of the $7.7 billion appropriated up front, one billion dollars is to go to the upgrade and repair of border facilities and our ports. Since we keep hearing how vulnerable our borders and points of entry are, this seems like a good expense. Another $6 billion will go for construction of energy efficient structures.

Title VII provides $100,000,000 for upgrading security at ports through investment via the Department of Homeland Security. It calls for "non intrusive detection technology" - weird, but OK. There's another one hundred fifty million dollars for construction of facilities at land ports of entry. There's also half a billion dollars allocated for explosive and what the bill calls "emerging checkpoint technologies" at airports. In other words, the kind of thing called for years ago but never implemented by the Bush Administration.

To be continued . . .

Virtual Tin Cup

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