Senate Should Strip Stimulus of Excesses

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A spending bill as enormous as the current stimulus package is going to include its fair share of expenditures that have nothing to do with stimulating the economy. Our representatives can’t help themselves. They’ll use any spending bill as an excuse to fund pet projects. The AP details some of the non-stimulus related projects lurking in the bill now in front of the Senate.

There’s $345 million for Agriculture Department computers, $650 million for TV converter boxes, $15 billion for college scholarships.
There’s $1 billion to deal with Census problems and $88 million to help move the Public Health Service into a new building next year. The Senate would devote $2.1 billion to pay off a looming shortfall in public housing accounts, $870 million to combat the flu and $400 million to slow the spread HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases such as chlamydia.

Some of the spending proposals are worthy, but I’m uncomfortable with a stimulus package that isn’t solely focused on improving the economy. This bill should not be an excuse to fund other projects. Those projects should be put before Congress separately and debated on their own merits rather than being lumped in with the current bill.

We are already $10 trillion in debt. We do not have room to spend billions of dollars on projects not directly related to economic improvement. Despite what some would have you believe, not every dollar the government spends is good for the economy. Dollars should be spent in ways that maximize their potential for fueling economic growth.

Fortunately, several Democratic senators are voicing concern over the non-essential spending in the stimulus package. I can only hope the Senate strips the bill of its excesses.

  • Mike

    Agreed. I support a stimulus bill that is focused on stimulus, and not just an excuse for spending money.

    To those who would defend all of this new spending as stimulating the economy, I ask:

    What kind of spending would you not consider stimulus?

    Virtually any kind of government spending creates jobs to some degree, so the argument that things such as building renovations would create jobs is pretty shallow in my opinion.

    If any kind of spending can be considered stimulus bill, then what’s the difference between a stimulus bill and a “let’s spend a whole lot of money on stuff that we’ve always wanted but never had an excuse to spend so much money on” bill?

  • Alex

    There is a very strong argument that the whole reason that we are in this mess in the first place was too much liquidity from 2001-2004. We’re now pumping in more currency than ever before. I am worried that we are trading off a short-term recession for the risk of another crisis down the road.

    If you’re interested, check out my thoughts on my site: