Tuesday, January 27, 2009

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009

The on-again, off-again Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report on the so-called stimulus package (H.R. 1) was posted on the CBO Director's blog today.

Assuming enactment in mid-February, CBO estimates that the bill would increase outlays by $92 billion during the remaining several months of fiscal year 2009, by $225 billion in fiscal year 2010 (which begins on October 1), by $159 billion in 2011, and by a total of $604 billion over the 2009-2019 period. That spending includes outlays from discretionary appropriations in Division A of the bill and direct spending resulting from Division B.

How do you spend $92B intelligently in only six months (the time remaining in this fiscal year)? Didn't we just have an acrimonious debate about spending incident to the Iraq War? I may be missing something important here, but it seems to me that the folks who were so concerned about wasteful spending and contracting abuses in the past are getting ready to open the floodgates.

In addition, CBO and the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) estimate that enacting the provisions in Division B would reduce revenues by $76 billion in fiscal year 2009, by $131 billion in fiscal year 2010, and by a net of $212 billion over the 2009-2019 period.

In combining the spending and revenue effects of H.R. 1, CBO estimates that enacting the bill would increase federal budget deficits by $169 billion over the remaining months of fiscal year 2009, by $356 billion in 2010, by $174 billion in 2011, and by $816 billion over the 2009-2019 period.

Outlays increase. Income decreases. We eat the difference. Ugh.

But wait, it gets better!

The budgetary impact of the bill stems primarily from three types of transactions: Direct payments to individuals (such as unemployment benefits), reductions in federal taxes, and purchases of goods and services (either by the federal government directly or indirectly via grants to states and local governments). CBO estimates that impacts from the first two categories of transactions would occur fairly rapidly. In the third category, CBO estimates slower rates of spending than historical full-year spending rates in 2009 for a number of reasons:

  • The bill’s enactment would likely occur nearly half way through the fiscal year.
  • Previous experience suggests that agencies have difficulty rapidly expanding existing programs while maintaining current services; the funding in H.R. 1 for some programs is substantially greater than the usual annual funding for those activities.
  • Spending can be delayed by necessary lags for planning, soliciting bids, entering contracts, and conducting regulatory or environmental reviews.
  • Agencies face additional challenges in spending funds for new programs quickly because of the time necessary to develop procedures and criteria, issue regulations, and review plans and proposals before money can be distributed.

Frequently in the past, in all types of federal programs, a noticeable lag has occurred between sharp increases in funding and resulting increases in outlays. Based on such experiences, CBO expects that federal agencies, states, and other recipients of funding would find it difficult to properly manage and oversee a rapid expansion of existing programs so as to spend added funds quickly as they expend their normal resources. The seasonal nature of some spending also affects the speed at which activities can be conducted; for example, major school repairs are generally scheduled during the summer to avoid disrupting classes.

In short, there's no way this money will be spent without waste -- perhaps a LOT of waste.

Read all about it, here:

Director’s Blog » Blog Archive » American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009

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