The Stimulus Is A Victim Of Scattered Thinking


As we move into week 300 of President Barack Obama’s stimulus for the sake of stimulus campaign, one thing is clear: Nobody is truly in love with the stimulus bill.

We think part of the reason that people are stuggling with the stimulus is its lack of a signature issue or grand vision. During the campaign, the knock on Obama’s  platform of sweeping change and outsized rhetoric was that it (and the candidate himself) was big on ideas, but thin on specifics. It makes sense, then, that his stimulus package follows a similar pattern.

If we pause and ask, where will the $800 billion-$900 billion stimulus go? No single answer quickly pops to mind. It goes here and there, in reality. Some might say it will be used for alternative energy or infrastructure. But it’s alternative energy push is measly–just a small portion will be used to advance such projects. And is there a single specific road project that we can think of that will result from the stimulus? Undoubtedly thousands of miles of asphalt will be laid out, but we can’t think of any one in particular.

Is it possible that we’ll spend a trillion dollars and have nothing to show for it?

In a Wall Street Journal report today, the paper estimates that the cost of properly building a new electricity grid that can handle all the alternative sources of energy would cost $100 billion. And that’s just for the East Coast alone.

That the stimulus bill won’t provide the necessary money to make the new grid possible is unfortunate because it is a bold-faced, forward-thinking, signature issue upon which the stimulus bill could hang its hat. Obama could stand up and say, “The bill must pass so that the new grid can be built. It will provide better cheaper electricity in the long run and jobs in the short run.” It doesn’t have to be a smart grid that he makes the signature issue. It just has to be something people can remember, and in 10 years, point to as a result.

Until then, it just sounds like: “We must pass the bill. Right now. Or else.”