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Torn over 11 'very reasonable' expenditures in the stimulus

August 27, 2010 - Mike Maneval

A slideshow by the Huffington Post's Dan Froomkin lists 11 projects funded by the 2009 stimulus bill that were, in his words, "very reasonable." It's a list I feel torn about, for a part of me feels Froomkin is missing the point, while another part of me sees Froomkin acknowledging an important point often neglected by others who discuss a more historical stimulus plan.

The first on Froomkin's list is a $100 million appropriation on the Warrior Transition program. The program, which assists injured soldiers and sailors recover and rejoin their communities, is a worthwhile one. So worthwhile that I'd rather see it reach the congressional floors by itself so I can see who dares vote against it.

Other spots on his list are taken by money to renovate the Staten Island Ferry terminal and grants to develop more advanced batteries. And these projects also may be worthwhile - though I don't see any as clear-cut as the Warrior Transition program. But as far as facilitating a broader recovery, in turning around joblessness and the financial insecurity of American households, these sorts of projects are at the very least underperforming. And the question, whether or not less public expenditures of these kind and greater tax relief for Americans on payroll - an expansion of the Making Work Pay credit - would've worked better shouldn't be derailed by praise for investment in veterans services and infrastructure.

Yet, I've often felt irritation at how assessments of the New Deal myopically focus on month-to-month or year-to-year joblessness to determine if the New Deal "succeeded" or "failed," without taking into account the stability the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation provides banking, or the reduced business costs to which the Tennessee Valley Authority contributed through increasing energy supplies. So ... maybe the Warrior Transition program should derail certain criticisms of the stimulus.


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