October 20, 2010

Where Did the Federal Stimulus Money Go? To Funding Agenda 21

Obama’s Tomorrow Land is Today

By Ahrcanum
April 4, 2009

How does a sitting President jest at the same citizens he leads -- the same citizens who are bailing out the world with its tax dollars, promising to contribute funds to a global stimulus package?

Being politically correct -- note that it is suddenly offensive to refer to our government-owned entities like GM and AIG as receiving bailouts, but rather government stimulus funds.

Whether you call the domestic and international contribution a bailout or a stimulus, the money is funding The New World Order.

It’s not as if you weren’t warned; you just didn’t want to believe.

For better or worse, Gordon Brown has once again confirmed the future saying,
“This is collective action…we have resolved that from today we will together manage the process of globalization.”

Leaders at the G-20 summit have agreed to give $1 trillion to the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank for global unity and a financial strategy.

We will have to wait to see how much Obama has promised at the G20 summit. Who and what entity gives Obama the power to spend? Who authorized Obama to wear a Mr. Goodwrench hat and authorize government-backed car warranties?

The latest domestic budget is $3.6 trillion dollars and will create $9.6 trillion in debt. From the WSJ:
“President Barack Obama delivered a $3.6 trillion budget blueprint to Congress Thursday that aims to “break from a troubled past,” with expanded government activism, tax increases on affluent families and businesses, and spending cuts targeted at those he says profited from “an era of profound irresponsibility.”
Obama’s budget would produce $9.3 trillion in deficits over the next decade, more than four times the deficits of Republican George W. Bush’s presidency, congressional auditors said.

Roosevelt’s ‘New Deal’ failed because it hindered people from helping themselves. In both domestic and on an international scale, we see the same mistakes. Obama says it isn’t time to redecorate the house but rebuild foundations. Founded upon the foundation of democracy, America now has a dictator-style infringement upon the rights of private companies and private citizens.

Obama’s budget bill will essentially allow the Treasury to define “fair pay” for all employees, at any level.

The Serve Act proposes to make volunteering for the government mandatory, with pay, and it prohibits “volunteers from participating in worship and church activities, political rallies and naturally being involved in a union.” All hail Obama?

Don’t act surprised. From day-one we knew Obama felt that the Constitution is fundamentally flawed. Redistributive change and socialism were first brought to MSM light by Joe the Plumber. The ‘change you can believe in’ and ‘change we need’ are code words for Barack Obama’s ultimate goal: ‘redistributive change.’

Not ready for the NWO? Obama has plans for a civilian Army as large as our military, and as well funded — $650 billion annually. U.S. Troops are on active duty on U.S. Soil, and Mexican Troops stand at the ready on the Mexican border. The Omnibus Land Seizure Act just gave the government thousands of acres to train more soldiers or place civil disobedient citizens into detention centers. The last stimulus bill includes $8 billion for America’s railroad system, which will provide for easy transportation of dissenters to FEMA camps.

“High-speed rail is the infrastructure bank,” said Rahm Emanuel, quoted at Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on behalf of Las Vegas interests seeking a rail link to Los Angeles (coined the term “Sin City to Tomorrow Land”).
If Martial Law comes in America, do not expect ABC, BBC, CBS, CNN, Fox News Network, Reuters or the AP to give a full or accurate account of the truth due to limitations of the digital broadcasting system and the Fairness Doctrine.

Under the guise of escalating U.S. defenses against cyberattacks, the Internet cyber-security “czar” has unprecedented authority to shut down computer networks, including private ones. The bills sponsor — Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John D. Rockefeller IV.

You were warned, Obama’s tomorrow land is today.

How the Signed Stimulus Plan Breaks Down

The tab for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) — one of the largest investments ever in the U.S. economy — has been revised upward to $814 billion from the original $787 billion, according to the Congressional Budget Office. And critics who say the current plan hasn’t worked worry that another stimulus plan might be in the works. - Lori Valigra, U.S. stimulus funding is boosting innovation, www.sciencebusiness.net, September 9, 2010

The money must be spent by 2011. The idea is that in two years when the economy improved, the stimulus money would not be needed.

By The Associated Press
February 17, 2009

Highlights of the $787 billion bill signed into law Tuesday by President Barack Obama.

Additional debt costs would add about $330 billion over 10 years. Many provisions expire in two years.


$40 billion to provide extended unemployment benefits through Dec. 31, and increase them by $25 a week; $20 billion to increase food stamp benefits by 14 percent; $4 billion for job training; $3 billion in temporary welfare payments.

$14.2 billion to give one-time $250 payments to Social Security recipients, poor people on Supplemental Security Income, and veterans receiving disability and pensions.


$48 billion for transportation projects, including $27.5 billion for highway and bridge construction and repair; $8.4 billion for mass transit; $8 billion for construction of high-speed railways and $1.3 billion for Amtrak; $4.6 billion for the Army Corps of Engineers; $4 billion for public housing improvements; $6 billion for clean and drinking water projects; $7.2 billion to bring broadband Internet service to underserved areas; $4.2 billion to repair and modernize Defense Department facilities.

$24.7 billion to provide a 65 percent subsidy of health care insurance premiums for the unemployed under the COBRA program; $86.6 billion to help states with Medicaid; $19 billion to modernize health information technology systems; $10 billion for health research and construction of National Institutes of Health facilities; $1 billion for prevention and wellness programs.

$8.8 billion in aid to states to defray budget cuts.

About $50 billion for energy programs, focused chiefly on efficiency and renewable energy, including $5 billion to weatherize modest-income homes; $6.4 billion to clean up nuclear weapons production sites; $11 billion toward a so-called "smart electricity grid" to reduce waste; $6 billion to subsidize loans for renewable energy projects; $6.3 billion in state energy efficiency and clean energy grants; and $4.5 billion make federal buildings more energy efficient; $2 billion in grants for advanced batteries for electric vehicles.

$44.5 billion in aid to local school districts to prevent layoffs and cutbacks, with flexibility to use the funds for school modernization and repair; $25.2 billion to school districts to fund special education and the No Child Left Behind law for students in K-12; $15.6 billion to boost the maximum Pell Grant by $500 to $5,350; $2 billion for Head Start.

$4 billion to repair and make more energy efficient public housing projects; $2 billion for the redevelopment of foreclosed and abandoned homes; $1.5 billion for homeless shelters; $2 billion to pay off a looming shortfall in public housing accounts.
State and local governments can use their neighborhood stabilization grants to acquire land and property; to demolish or rehabilitate abandoned properties; and/or to offer downpayment and closing cost assistance to low- to moderate-income homebuyers (household incomes not exceed 120 percent of area median income). In addition, these grantees can create "land banks" to assemble, temporarily manage, and dispose of vacant land for the purpose of stabilizing neighborhoods and encouraging re-use or redevelopment of urban property. HUD will issue an NSP3 guidance notice in the next few weeks to assist grantees in designing their programs and applying for funds.

$3 billion for the National Science Foundation for basic science and engineering research; $1 billion for NASA; $1.6 billion for research in areas such as climate science, biofuels, high-energy physics and nuclear physics.


$2.8 billion for homeland security programs, including $1 billion for airport screening equipment.


$4 billion in grants to state and local law enforcement to hire officers and purchase equipment.



About $116 billion for a $400 per-worker, $800 per-couple tax credits in 2009 and 2010. For the last half of 2009, workers could expect to see about $13 a week less withheld from their paychecks starting around June. Millions of Americans who don't make enough money to pay federal income taxes could file returns next year and receive checks. Individuals making more than $75,000 and couples making more than $150,000 would receive reduced amounts.


About $70 billion to spare about 24 million taxpayers from being hit with the alternative minimum tax in 2009. The change would save a family of four an average of $2,300. The tax was designed to make sure wealthy taxpayers can't use credits and deductions to avoid paying any taxes. But it was never indexed to inflation, so families making as little as $45,000 could get significant increases without the change. Congress addresses it each year, usually in the fall.


About $14 billion to provide a $2,500 expanded tax credit for college tuition and related expenses for 2009 and 2010. The credit is phased out for couples making more than $160,000.


About $15 billion to provide the $1,000 child tax credit to more families that don't make enough money to pay income taxes.


$4.7 billion to expand the Earned Income Tax Credit for low-income families with three or more children.


$6.6 billion to repeal a requirement that a $8,000 first-time home buyer tax credit be paid back over time for homes purchased from Jan. 1 to Nov. 30, unless the home is sold within three years.


$1.7 billion to makes sales taxes on paid on new cars, light trucks, recreational vehicles and motorcycles tax deductible through the end of the year.


About 20 billion in tax incentives for renewable energy and energy efficiency over 10 years, including extending tax credits for energy produced from wind, geothermal, hydropower and landfill gas; grants to build renewable energy facilities; tax credits for purchases of energy-efficient furnaces, windows and doors, or insulation; tax credit for families that purchase plug-in hybrid vehicles.


$5 billion to extend a provision allowing businesses buying equipment such as computers to speed up its depreciation through 2009.


Repeal a Treasury provision that allowed firms that buy money-losing banks to use more of the losses as tax credits to offset the profits of the merged banks for tax purposes. The change would increase taxes on the merged banks by $7 billion over 10 years.

Debt Limit


Increases the statutory limit on the national debt by $789 billion, to $12.1 trillion.

Stimulus and the States

Stateline - The enormity and complexity of the federal stimulus program weigh heavily on cash-strapped states, which are required to keep track of numerous deadlines and reports for the $49 billion of recovery funds flowing into their coffers this year. Follow how states are managing the stimulus and see which programs are receiving these funds by using Stateline.org's stimulus special section or by following our links to useful resources here.

Nearly 60 percent of federal stimulus dollars flowing to state and local governments will go to education and health care programs. For more information, you can select a topic below to jump to stories in that category, read broader coverage of the stimulus, follow how states are overseeing the recovery effort or look forward at stimulus funding through 2016.

29% Health

31% Education and Training

16% Transportation

10% Income Security

7% Community Development

7% Energy and Environment

Source: U.S. Government Accountability Office

How Will the $787 Billion Stimulus Package Affect You?

February 17, 2009

The $787 billion stimulus bill passed by Congress will not quickly solve the historic problems besetting the economy, but it could reduce the damage, while providing relief for the unemployed and the uninsured.

Nariman Behravesh, chief economist at IHS Global Insight, predicts the biggest effects will occur in 2010 from the bill's spending for aid to state and local governments and on infrastructure such as roads, bridges, transit and other areas.

Moody's Economy.com chief economist Mark Zandi says the bill could help end the economic slide. He warns, however, that the stimulus spending will likely be too small, given the size of the economic decline, and suggests Congress may have to revisit the issue.

The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office says the bill could increase employment in a range of 800,000 to 2.3 million jobs by the fourth quarter of 2009 and 1.2 million to 3.6 million by the fourth quarter of 2010.

HOUSING/CARS: Buyers could get a modest break

If you're in the market for a new car or your first house, the compromise stimulus bill offers modest tax breaks for both kinds of purchases.

First-time home buyers would receive an $8,000 tax credit, and they wouldn't have to repay the government later as is required for the current $7,500 credit. An earlier Senate proposal would have provided all home buyers with a $15,000 credit.

"The home buyer tax credit is a plus for the housing market, but only a small plus," says Mark Zandi of Moody's Economy.com. "The credit … covers only a part of the down payment needed to make a purchase. The housing market will take any help it can get, but it needs more."

Other economists point out that the tax credit will still provide a mild jolt to the market by encouraging home purchases, which in turn should help curb the rapid rate of home price declines.

"While scaled back somewhat, it is still a good idea," says Brian Bethune at IHS Global Insight. "It should induce more home sales in 2009, and this will be an important support for the housing market and the housing industry. It should also buffer the rate of decline of home prices."

The bill also would allow new car buyers to deduct the purchase's sales tax from taxable income.

"We're happy to see the sales tax help, but credit is really the big issue," Chrysler President Jim Press said Thursday in Chicago.

"Ever-increasing credit score requirements by lenders," and slipping consumer credit ratings take many potential buyers out of the pool, Press said.

"A positive development, but we don't think it would have an immediate impact on the market," said Chris Hosford, vice president at Hyundai's U.S. operations.

The average new car purchase price the first 11 months of last year was $28,280, and the average used car trade-in value was $15,203, according to data from the National Automobile Dealers Association. Paul Taylor, NADA chief economist, says states typically tax the difference — $13,077 in this case.

A 5% rate, as in Massachusetts, would be $654, Taylor says, meaning the deduction would reduce taxable income that much.

TAXES: A $400 to $800 credit for many taxpayers

A key element of the stimulus bill would provide most Americans with a tax credit of $400, or $800 for married couples. The tax credit would phase out for single taxpayers with adjusted gross incomes of $75,000 to $90,000 and married couples with AGI of $150,000 to $190,000.

The tax credit would increase the average taxpayer's paycheck by about $8 a week, prompting some to question whether it will do much to stimulate consumer spending. But for a single worker, the credit is the equivalent of a $500 salary increase, after taxes, says Clint Stretch, managing principal for tax policy at Deloitte Tax.

"In this economy, if you walked into your boss' office and demanded a $500 raise, you'd probably get laughed at," he says.

Retirees who receive Social Security benefits and individuals on disability would receive a $250 tax credit, says Tom Ochsenschlager, vice president of taxation for the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. Because these individuals typically don't have withholding, they'll likely receive a check, he says.

Other tax provisions in the stimulus package:

  • An expanded earned income tax credit and child tax credit for low-income families.

  • A higher education tax credit. Parents of college students would be eligible to claim a tax credit of up to $2,500. The credit is more generous than the existing Hope Scholarship Tax Credit, which maxes out at $1,800 and is available only for the first two years of college, says Amy McAnarney, executive director of H&R Block's Tax Institute. The tax credit, which would be available in 2009 and 2010, phases out for single taxpayers with AGI of $80,000 to $90,000 and married taxpayers with AGI of $160,000 to $180,000.

  • A stopgap measure designed to prevent the alternative minimum tax from hitting more than 24 million households in 2009. The AMT was designed to prevent extremely wealthy taxpayers from using loopholes and deductions to avoid taxes. But because it was never indexed to inflation, it has expanded to encompass more upper-middle and some middle-class taxpayers. About 4 million owed the AMT last year.

ENERGY: Weatherizing homes will save money

The agreed-upon stimulus plan provides about $50 billion aimed at ushering in a clean-energy future and includes money or tax credits for Americans to weatherize their homes and buy hybrid cars.

It also commits dollars to upgrading the electricity grid and underwriting renewable energy projects.

"This is going to be an extraordinary boost to our challenge of preparing for global warming legislation and re-energizing the American economy," says Tom "Smitty" Smith, director of Public Citizen's Texas office.

While many analysts cheered provisions to weatherize homes as both an instant way to create jobs and put money in consumers' pockets, some say other initiatives are insufficient and won't deliver a quick economic boost.

The bill sets aside $5 billion to weatherize more than 1 million modest-income homes, saving families an average $350 a year. It devotes $6.3 billion to improve federally backed and public housing projects with new insulation, windows and furnaces. Higher-income households can make similar improvements and get expanded tax credits.

For every dollar spent, such programs produce about $3 in electricity savings, Smith says.

Spending $11 billion to upgrade the nationwide transmission grid to get renewable energy from rural areas to cities and digitize the electric grid to prevent outages is more controversial.

"It's just too little," says Joel Kurtzman, senior fellow at the Milken Institute, an economic think tank. He says it will cost about $100 billion.

Kenneth Medlock, energy fellow at Rice University's Baker Institute, says grid improvements will take years and won't spawn jobs immediately.

Providing a tax credit of up to $7,500 for families that buy plug-in hybrids to spur a new generation of cars "will help the environment and help Detroit," Kurtzman says.

But automakers won't have plug-in hybrids and battery-power electrics in showrooms until next year at the earliest.

"To roll that into a stimulus is almost misleading," Medlock says.

THE SAFETY NET: Jobless get a little extra help

Many of those who are unemployed will get a boost from the stimulus bill, including a $25 increase in weekly benefit checks through 2009 that should help not only those who are out of work but the broad economy as that money gets spent.

Currently, the nationwide average weekly check to those receiving unemployment benefits is $295.05, ranging from $179.08 in Mississippi to $408.28 in Hawaii, according to the National Employment Law Project.

Increasing payments is a good way to stimulate the economy, because,

"You can get money into the hands of people right away," says Michael Hicks, director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at Ball State University.
And people who are unemployed are likely to spend it.

More than 4.8 million people were collecting unemployment benefits at the end of January, up 78% from a year earlier and the highest since records began in 1967, the Labor Department said Thursday.

The bill includes other measures to help those who have lost their jobs. They:

  • Lengthen the period in which people can be eligible for extended unemployment benefits. The program, which provides up to 33 weeks of extra jobless benefits after workers exhaust the regular 26 weeks received in most states, was passed last year and was set to expire at the end of March. Under the stimulus bill, the extended benefits would be available through the end of 2009. The NELP estimates this will help about 3 million people.

  • Provide money to states that agree to make benefits available to more workers. That would help at least 500,000 people, including some low-wage and part-time workers, who wouldn't otherwise receive unemployment benefits, the NELP says.

  • Suspend the taxation of unemployment benefits up to $2,400.

The measure also helps the unemployed and others by increasing the maximum monthly food-stamp benefit by 13%, which lawmakers estimate will help 31 million Americans, half of them children. And the bill provides a subsidy to cover 65% of a worker's COBRA health insurance premiums for up to nine months. COBRA lets workers continue their former employer's coverage for at least 18 months.

BROADBAND: Help for rural areas

The stimulus bill includes $7 billion for broadband deployment in rural markets across the USA.

That high-speed Internet access is counted as "infrastructure" is illuminating in itself, says Gene Kimmelman of Consumers Union.

Under the Bush administration, broadband service was treated as a luxury, he says.

The Obama-backed stimulus package, in contrast, "treats Internet communications as an essential service, just like our highways," Kimmelman says.

With that baseline established, Kimmelman says, he expects major public policy shifts to follow, with the goal of making broadband available and affordable to all Americans. Though final language is still being worked out, the $7 billion plan offers "grants," or funding, to companies willing to deploy broadband — wireless or wired — in "underserved" or "unserved" markets.

But there are regulatory strings attached, notes Paul Glenchur of Stanford Group in Washington, D.C.

Companies must offer broadband services in a "non-discriminatory" fashion. That's code for "open access," a politically charged notion that says carriers must treat all Internet services the same.

Likewise, trying to define "underserved" or "unserved" markets could prove challenging, he says.

Why: Satellite-based Internet services already are available in most rural markets. Phone and cable TV companies have also spent billions deploying broadband in hundreds of markets, including rural areas.

The government's plan to essentially subsidize competition in these areas through a grant program "raises a basic question of fairness," Glenchur says.

Kimmelman disagrees. Satellite-based broadband costs around $90 a month, he says, putting it out of reach of many consumers.

Here's How Obama Spent $792 Billion on Fiscal Stimulus

Business Insider
September 10, 2010

With Obama pressing forward another major round of stimulus, the real question is how much the president and his political posse have spent already, and which initiatives the allocated money actually funded.

From the beginning of our president's well-publicized First Hundred Days to the beginning of his days taking personal hits at GOP members, Obama has left behind a Keynesian trail of stimulus spending that spans 20 months.

$36.9 billion for Aid to People Affected by Economic Downturn (Recovery Act)

Date: February 13, 2009

Purpose: For food stamps, rural housing assistance, child care aid for low-income families, and farm loans

Sample Programs:

* Special supplemental nutrition program for women, infants and children ($500 million)
* State re-employment services for the jobless ($250 million)

$48.4 billion for Education (Recovery Act)

Date: February 13, 2009

Purpose: For job training grants, aid for schools, Pell Grants, and education administration costs

Sample Programs:

* Dislocated worker job training ($1.25 billion)
* Pell Grants for higher education ($15.8 billion)
* Head Start programs ($1 billion)
* Education for the disadvantaged - elementary and secondary education ($10 billion)

$324 million for Accountability (Recovery Act)

Date: February 13, 2009

Purpose: Accountability funds were funneled into various government departments to oversee the disbursement of stimulus aid and for general division operations

Sample Programs:

* Department of Agriculture - Office of Inspector General ($22.5 million)
* Recovery Act Accountability and Transparency Board ($84 million)
* Government Accountability Office salaries and expenses ($25 million)

$58.4 billion for Aid to State and Local Governments (Recovery Act)

Date: February 13, 2009

Purpose: To fund various legal, crime prevention, community outreach, economic development, and disaster assistance programs

Sample Programs:

* State Fiscal Stabilization Fund to avoid cutbacks and layoffs ($53.6 billion)
* State administrative expenses to carry out increase in food stamp program ($295 million)
* Violence against women prevention and prosecution programs ($225 million)
* Community Oriented Policing Services grants ($1 billion)

$41.4 billion for Energy (Recovery Act)

Date: February 13, 2009

Purpose: To support weatherization procedures, green energy ventures, and modernization of existing utilities systems

Sample Programs:

* Modernize electricity grid ($4.4 billion)
* Innovative technology loan guarantee program ($6 billion)
* Federal building conversion to "high-performance green buildings" ($4.5 billion)

$13.1 billion for Science and Technology (Recovery Act)

Date: February 13, 2009

Purpose: To fund R&D on the national level, support security and facilities upgrades in the innovation space, and aid education measures to improve research functions

Sample Programs:

* National Science Foundation research and related activities ($2.5 billion)
* National Telecommunications and Information Administration ($4.7 billion)
* NASA exploration ($400 million)

$18.8 billion for Health Care (Recovery Act)

Date: February 13, 2009

Purpose: For the provision of health care and rehabilitation services to disadvantaged sectors of society, and for health care research funding

Sample Programs:

* National Institutes of Health fund to support scientific research ($7.4 billion)
* Construction, renovation, equipment and information technology for health centers ($1.5 billion)
* Department of Health and Human Services Prevention and Wellness Fund ($1 billion)

$870 million for Business (Recovery Act)

Date: February 13, 2009

Purpose: Primarily to support small business ventures

Sample Programs:

* Small business loans ($636 million)
* Rural Business - Cooperative Service: rural business program account ($150 million)

$2.1 billion for Miscellaneous Recovery Act Programs

Date: February 13, 2009

Purpose: A smattering of stimulus measures - everything from Americorps to Census funding

Sample Programs:

* Census Bureau programs ($1 billion)
* Filipino World War II veterans compensation ($198 million)
* National Endowment for the Arts grants ($50 million)

$3 billion for Cash for Clunkers

Date: July 27, 2009 (de facto start date for the program, initial aid ran out after a week and a second round of "Cash for Clunkers" was passed by Congress on August 6, 2009)

Purpose: To give folks cash for their "clunkers" (cars beyond a reasonable degree of use) in order to circulate money into the hands of consumers and ultimately stimulate some spending while giving a boost to the automobile industry

$48.3 billion for Infrastructure (Jobs for Main Street Act)

Date: December 16, 2010

Purpose: To poach previously allocated TARP funding and funnel the money into creating jobs in targeted sectors of the US economy. The infrastructure arm will improve mass transit, schools, public housing, and clean water initiatives while adding jobs in these fields.

Sample Programs:

* Amtrak ($800 million)
* Clean water subsidies ($2 billion)
* Housing trust fund to provide rental homes for low-income families ($1 billion)

$26.7 billion for Public Service Jobs (Jobs for Main Street Act)

Date: December 16, 2010

Purpose: To create and maintain jobs in the public sector

Sample Programs:

* Education Jobs Fund to support approximately 250,000 education jobs over the next 2 years ($23 billion)
* Summer youth employment ($500 million)
* Law enforcement jobs ($1.2 billion)

$79 billion for Emergency Relief for Families (Jobs for Main Street Act)

Date: December 16, 2010

Purpose: Primarily for unemployment benefits, child care, and small business support

Sample Programs:

* Unemployment insurance, 6-month extension of benefits ($41 billion)
* Help with health insurance for unemployed workers (COBRA) ($12.3 billion)
* Child care tax credit ($2.3 billion)

$34 billion for the Extension of Unemployment Benefits

Date: July 22, 2010

Purpose: To extend funding for a variety of unemployment programs already in existence, although the bill famously does not grant additional aid to workers who have been employed over the 99-week federal limit

$30 billion for Small Businesses in Obama's Second Round of Stimulus Spending

Date: Pending approval

Purpose: To provide tax relief to small businesses burdened with the cost of starting up in an uncertain economic environment and ultimately to incentivize these businesses to innovate, expand, and provide jobs for the unemployed

$50 billion for Infrastructure Spending

Date: Pending approval

Purpose: For the construction and upkeep of roads, railways, and runways

Big Chunk of Economic Stimulus Yet to be Spent by State, Local Governments

August 14, 2010

Washington Post - As Americans puzzle over why the economic stimulus package enacted more than a year ago has failed to restore vigorous job growth, one explanation has emerged from new reports: A lot of the money is not yet out the door.

Detroit is struggling with 14 percent unemployment, but as of June 30 the city had spent less than 1 percent of the $8.8 million in stimulus funds it received for energy-efficiency initiatives. In budget-strapped Arizona, Phoenix has spent even less of its $15.2 million, and in hard-hit South Florida, Fort Lauderdale has spent $66,000 of its $2 million.

The $862 billion package was divided roughly in thirds among tax cuts, aid to states and the unemployed, and investments in infrastructure, health care and other areas. The first two have delivered most of their boost, but much of the investment spending is moving far more slowly. At the end of July, nearly 18 months after the stimulus passed, more than half of the $275 billion in investments had yet to be spent.

Underlying the slow pace is a defining tension: Officials want to get money out the door to jolt the economy but want to spend it carefully enough to meet long-term policy aims -- and avoid headlines about waste or fraud.
"This is federal money we are stewards of, and we have to make sure we're spending it well," said Eric Coffman, senior energy planner for Montgomery County. By the end of June, the county had spent none of its $7.6 million in energy-efficiency funds. "Spending fast is not the only thing in the world. We want to make sure we get results."
Administration officials say the stimulus remains on schedule, with 70 percent expected to be spent by Sept. 30. And some economists note that the sluggish economy will still need a boost until 2012, the deadline for spending most stimulus cash.
"Some stuff is taking a longer time to have an impact, but we still have over 9 percent unemployment," said John Irons of the Economic Policy Institute. "The fact that we still have dollars coming on line now should not be seen as a negative."
Many of the unspent funds lie in programs portrayed from the outset as true long-term investments, such as $8 billion for high-speed rail, $17 billion for health information technology and $10 billion for the National Institutes of Health. But other programs that had been viewed as quicker job-generators are also taking a while to get rolling.

'Green jobs' programs

Take, for instance, three programs meant to improve energy efficiency and produce "green jobs." The $5 billion program for weatherizing low-income homes is recovering from a slow start as officials wrestled with rules on wages and historic preservation, and as providers struggled to expand capacity.

Only 3,000 homes were weatherized last summer, a sliver of the program's goal of 600,000 by March 2012. The pace has picked up, with 25,000 now being weatherized monthly. Still, barely a quarter of the funds were spent by the end of last month.

Moving more slowly are two other energy-efficiency initiatives, one for states and one for cities and counties. Of their combined $6.3 billion, $556 million had been spent by the end of July. Officials note that some of the remaining money is already at work but that states and cities will not pay out until projects are done.

In the Washington area, Prince William County, with $3.2 million, had not spent any money by June 30, while Arlington County had spent only $4,000 of its $2 million. Fairfax County had spent $236,000 of its $9.6 million and Loudoun County $239,000 of its $2.2 million. Prince George's County passed much of its $6.6 million to towns, but many had yet to spend it.

Virginia, which is investing much of its energy-efficiency money in biomass energy production, had spent $10.2 million by the end of June -- a fraction of its $70 million but enough to put it in the top five nationally. Maryland has spent 10 percent of its $51.8 million but says it has millions more at work in retrofitting apartments.

As of June 30, the District had spent $373,000 of its $22 million in state-level funds -- enough for a few TV ads and billboards promoting its tax on plastic bags -- but officials say millions more are being put to work modernizing schools. The District also received $9.6 million in city-level energy-efficiency funds; as of June 30, it had passed along $1.5 million, mainly to nonprofits. It says more will be spent on retrofitting fire stations and libraries.

The slow spend-out seems incongruous considering how desperate state and local governments are for funding; on Tuesday, the House passed $26 billion in aid to states to prevent additional layoffs of public employees. But most stimulus programs must be used for specific purposes, not to plug budget holes.

Many local and state governments say budget troubles have left them short-staffed, slowing their stimulus spending, though several have used some of the money to hire managers to oversee their spending. Louisiana is paying a company $5.7 million to handle its entire $85 million in energy-efficiency spending.

Mix of projects

After waiting for Energy Department guidelines last year, state and local officials spent months deciding how to use their funding. They opted for a mix of retrofits of public buildings; installation of low-energy streetlights and traffic lights; rebates for solar installations or insulation upgrades by residents and businesses; and workforce development.

Some of the projects are less jobs-intensive than others. Loudoun, like many counties, is spending heavily on an energy audit by a consulting firm. Fairfax is investing in making its computer systems more energy efficient.

The plans then went to the Energy Department, which decided, among other things, whether projects needed a full environmental review. The department told Florida that several of its proposals did not pass muster, and until recently the state was still unsure how to redeploy $12 million.

Fairfax was told that a proposal to replace windows conflicted with historic-preservation rules.

And Alexandria, along with many other cities, has run up against Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac objections to a program that would let homeowners pay for energy-efficiency upgrades over time by attaching the cost to their property tax bill.

Now that the Energy Department has approved most plans, cities and states must still put projects out to bid and draft agreements with local partners. Matt Rogers, who is overseeing the Energy Department's stimulus spending, said he hoped monthly spending by both the state and city programs would soon reach $100 million, up from $60 million in July. Local officials also promised a surge.
"The good news is that there will be a lot of spending in September. You'll see money being spent in big chunks," said Matt Groff, who is managing Prince William's grant. "Although it's taken a little while to get off the ground, there'll be less mistakes than there could've been if they were quick to approve early on."

Much of Stimulus Won’t Be Spent Before 2011, CBO Says

January 20, 2009

Bloomberg - The government wouldn’t be able to spend at least one-fourth of a proposed $825 billion economic stimulus plan until after 2010, according to a new report that suggests it may take longer than expected to boost the economy.

A Congressional Budget Office analysis of President Barack Obama’s plan found that most of the approximately $355 billion in proposed discretionary spending on highways, renewable energy and other initiatives wouldn’t be spent before 2011. The government would spend about $26 billion of the money this year and $110 billion more next year, the report said.

About $103 billion would be spent in 2011, while $53 billion would be spent in 2012 and $63 billion between 2013 and 2019, the report said. Republicans said the analysis showed that the plan, unveiled last week by House Democrats, won’t get money into the economy quickly enough.

“We have serious concerns that the bulk of this spending won’t have an immediate or short-term positive effect on the economic crisis,” said Jennifer Hing, a spokeswoman for Representative Jerry Lewis of California, the top Republican on the House Appropriations Committee. “This is especially troubling given the massive size of the package and the enormous burden of debt it is placing on the taxpayers.”

Leading Economists’ Advice

A spokesman for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi defended the plan, saying it was “crafted based on the advice of some of our nation’s leading economists.” Spokesman Nadeam Elshami said the CBO report did not examine the tax and mandatory-spending provisions in the plan, which he said could be more quickly enacted.

“These provisions will go out quickly to give the economy a jolt while others will represent down payments on crucial priorities for our economic future -- investments in clean energy, health care, education and repairing our nation’s infrastructure,” Elshami said.

The stimulus plan is aimed at helping lift the economy out of recession through tax cuts for families and businesses and $550 billion in new spending on programs including expanded unemployment benefits, aid to state governments and increased funding for scientific research.

The CBO report analyzed only the discretionary section of the bill, omitting the $275 billion in proposed tax cuts and approximately $195 billion in mandatory spending increases.

The analysis suggests that much of the stimulus may not come until after the economy has begun to recover. The CBO has previously said it expected a “slow” recovery to begin later this year and that the economy will expand by a “modest” 1.5 percent in 2010.

Highway Construction

The report said less than $5 billion of the $30 billion set aside for highway spending would be spent within the next two years. About $2.6 billion of $18.5 billion for renewable energy programs would be spent by then. About $907 million of a $6 billion plan to expand broadband access in rural and other underserved areas would be spent by 2011, CBO said.

The timing of spending on different programs would vary because some, such as building a highway or revamping the nation’s electrical grid, take longer to implement than others, such as providing bigger unemployment assistance checks.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey, a Wisconsin Democrat, said last week that while lawmakers looked for programs that could be implemented quickly, they didn’t focus exclusively on “shovel-ready” projects because they also wanted the stimulus plan to address longer-term problems.

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