New CBO Report Confirms Suspicions About "Stimulus" Plan

January 27, 2009

The Congressional Budget Office has released an official cost estimate of the House-passed "economic stimulus" plan, H.R. 1 The American Economy and Reinvestment Act of 2009. http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/99xx/doc9968/hr1.pdf  The report confirms suspicions that the plan has turned into a vehicle for Congressional largess with almost no coherent strategy for improving the economy.

According to CBO, the plan includes $604 billion in new spending and $212 billion in tax cuts for a total cost of $816 billion over the 2009 to 2019 period.  While supporters of the plan claim that it must be enacted soon to get government cash into the economy, only 15 percent (or $93 billion) of the spending will occur during this fiscal year which ends in October. Only 37 percent of the spending would occur in FY 2010, which means that roughly half of the plan's spending will occur in FY 2011 and beyond. The economy is going to be well back to health on its own by the time any of this takes effect.

While economists differ on whether Keynesian demand-side spending can boost economic growth in the short run as much as it hurts in the long run, even the most ardent advocates would agree that the plan spends too little in the short run to make much of a difference.  CBO estimates that GDP will total $28.8 trillion over the next two years but the plan spends $318 billion during the same period -- just 1.1 percent of GDP. This is like pouring a teaspoon into the ocean.

On the tax side, only about 36 percent of the $212 billion in tax cuts will benefit taxpayers this year and the rest will benefit them next year. To make matters worse, the tax provisions are heavily weighted toward "refundable" tax credits for families which are little different from the ineffective tax rebate checks Congress approved in 2008.

Perhaps the best thing about the plan is that it gives the lie to claims that "we cannot afford to renew the Bush tax cuts." Congress apparently believes that taxpayers can afford $287 billion in new spending beyond 2010, so why can't we afford to extend the Bush tax cuts?

Lawmakers need to go back to the drawing board and craft a plan that addresses the real problems facing the economy, such as a corporate tax code that is making the U.S. less competitive globally. The economy is not in recession because of a lack of government largess and will not be "jump-started" by more of it.

(In Millions)

FY 2009

FY 2010

FY 2011-19

Total

Division A - Discretionary Spending

  

  

  

  

Title I - General Provisions

$116

$118

$14

$248

Title II - Agriculture, Nutrition, and Rural Development

$5,630

$7,582

$13,724

$26,936

Title III - Commerce, Justice and Science

$2,234

$4,478

$7,211

$13,923

Title IV - Defense

$1,782

$2,264

$783

$4,829

Title V - Energy and Water

$2,598

$8,247

$38,005

$48,850

Title VI - Financial Services and General Government

$512

$1,721

$6,296

$8,529

Title VII - Homeland Security

$340

$215

$545

$1,100

Title VIII - Interior and Environment

$1,275

$4,482

$8,743

$14,500

Title IX - Labor, Health, and Human Services and Education

$6,417

$41,224

$43,622

$91,263

Title X - Military Construction and Veterans Affairs

$426

$2,119

$4,415

$6,960

Title XI - Department of State

$52

$142

$306

$500

Title XII - Transportation and Housing and Urban Development

$5,288

$14,059

$40,012

$59,359

Title XIII - State Fiscal Stabilization Fund

$2,283

$29,191

$47,526

$79,000

Total Division A

$28,953

$115,842

$211,202

$355,997

         

Division B - Direct Spending

       

Title I - Tax Provisions

$4,113

$36,325

$39,525

$79,963

Title II - Assistance for Unemployed Workers and Struggling Families

$21,750

$21,402

$2,507

$45,659

Title III - Health Insurance Assistance for the Unemployed

$4,860

$7,070

$1,410

$13,340

Title IV - Health Information Technology

$383

$138

$19,710

$20,231

Title V - Medicaid  Provisions

$33,016

$43,918

$11,917

$88,851

Total Division B

$64,122

$108,853

$75,069

$248,044

         

Total All Spending

$93,075

$224,695

$286,271

$604,041

Percentage in Year

15%

37%

47%

  

         

Tax Revenues (Cuts)

$76,460

$131,320

$4,028

$211,808

Percentage in Year

36%

62%

2%

  

         

Total Cost of H.R. 1

$169,535

$356,015

$290,299

$815,849

Percentage in Year

21%

44%

36%

 

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