31 January 2009

Fact Checking the Stimulus

Politifact has been on top of the "The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act," which means they're maintaining a record of the distortions and falsehoods begin flung about by politicians and commentators.

The worst of the flingers appears to be Rep. Eric Cantor. Recently he has asserted that the package includes money for "a $300,000 sculpture garden." Not true. He's also insisted that the package allocates more money for returfing the National Mall than for small business. Again, not true:
The House bill states that the money [$200 million] would be used for "construction, improvements, repair or replacement of facilities related to…the National Mall."

Although the bill doesn't contain specific numbers, a "discussion draft" of the package considered by the House provides a little more detail. It says the "many" projects that would be funded in the Mall project include "repair of the Jefferson Memorial’s collapsing Tidal Basin walls and the replacement of mall turf."

In order to make his equation work, Cantor assumes all of $200 million is for the new turf. It's not.
Indeed. And in contrast to the $200 million to repair and protect the National Mall's monuments and its turf, and $880 million in programs for, and direct assistance to, small businesses. I'd also like ot note that Politifact reveals that Cantor has been misrepresenting the Congressional Budget Office's data on the stimulus' effect.

It's true that some of the proposals included in the House version of the stimulus package were out of whack--for example, money for contraceptive services [President Obama asked for the removal of this allocation] and STD education. This is not to negate the importance of shoring up family planning services and health programs, but this isn't the time and place for it. Priorities, you know?

Aside: Oregon Rep. Pete DeFazio (a very nice man) suggests that the way out of our problems is to minimize tax relief. Yup. The stimulus package contains too many tax reductions:

The $275 billion in tax cuts for individuals included in the federal legislation drew criticism from DeFazio.

Giving money back to taxpayers does little to stimulate the economy and just pushes the nation further into debt, he said.

He would have preferred to see tax loopholes that benefit big corporations closed. (Register-Guard)

Well, I'm all for "giving money back to the taxpayers," but, considering how many businesses are suffering right now--and Exxon is not representative--and laying off employees, those tax loopholes might be beneficial for the time being. When we hit recovery, then we can talk about closing those loopholes (and they do need to be closed).

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