American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009

Has anyone read the entire text of the stimulus package?

The ambiguity of this question is intentional.

For those reading this post who have read the entire text, would you please comment on it?  What are the highlights, what are the important hidden details, do you think it will work, whatever you want to say.

On the more literal interpretation of my question, how many people do you think actually have read the entire text, particularly those in Congress and the Administration?  My supposition is that very few have, and I wonder even if Obama has read every single page.  This would not be a surprising revelation, but rather a practical “necessity” of our current political process.  Presumably each decision maker has a staff of people who do read and analyze every clause in a bill and who summarize for their boss.

Now, if it’s the case that no Member or Senator has actually read the entire final draft of the stimulus package — and even if some have but the majority have not — then this says something interesting about the crowdsourced nature of our body politic.  But I’m not sure what :-)

Would legislation be different (and how) if everyone who proposed, voted on, or had veto power over legislation actually read every word themselves?

Would we, the People, be better off, worse off, or the same?

Assuming that crowdsourcing the legislative process is a practical necessity, how could that process be improved (practically speaking)?

  • *chuckles*
    Perhaps you should take a look at DownsizeDC and the read the Bills Act.

    I am going through the entire thing, and am at page 233 so far. I am not impressed in the least so far. But, then again, I am a dyed in the wool capitalist with a background in economics. To date in a nutshell, all that I see are political paybacks…

  • It’s not surprising that it’s full of political paybacks, but interestingly couldn’t the goal of this particular bill be served well by this? Given that we want a broad-based stimulus to the economy, mightn’t a diverse serving of pork be just the ticket?

    I heard Tyler Cowen on This American Life recently go out on a limb and say that if the stimulus package works within a year to 18 months, he’d essentially admit that his current understanding of economics is flawed and that Keynes had it right. Of course he doesn’t believe that the package will work, but I like that he made a falsifiable public claim.

  • “if the stimulus package works within a year to 18 months, he’d essentially admit that his current understanding of economics is flawed and that Keynes had it right.”

    I wonder how Cowen defines “works.” Pork and increased government spending have a considerably poor track record when it comes to increasing jobs, incomes and wealth on any sustainable basis. Perhaps short term it “works” but beyond that, it will merely just lead to more calls for more spending. The result: the hole we’re digging just gets deeper.

  • Daniel

    I think if the content of the bill were presented in a more usable manner, then people could give reasonable feedback. Over time this feedback loop might speed up to the point where the the politicians are actually representatives of the people.

    I caught this at the top of reddit a few days ago.

    I’ve skimmed the bill extensively and my initial “blink” thoughts are, WTF this is not saving the economy.

  • I think we should invite youth to help us figure this out, afterall, they will be paying for this! Bad decision making, including greed and ethical considerations got us to where we are today….why do we think that using the same thinking and players will get us out of this? Bring in fresh troops/ Bring in the youth of today and see what their thoughts are-don’t laught. I mean it. It is like parents and their kids; we grow up and our parents die only in this scenario the kids will be responsible for their parent’s debts! And not only that, if the debt isn’t paid by the time they die then their kids will have to take up the yoke. And oh yes, we parents, who made the mess are going to decide, all by ourselves, how we are going to create more debt…yep, that’s right; we create the mess, make it messier and leave it to posterity to clean it up.

    I say, bring in the young oxen who will be shouldering the burden, teach them what we know, teach them decision-making skills and see if they/we can’t come up with a better plan….I don’t see that we have anything to lose-what do you think?

  • @Diana, I like it. Will you be at the DEF charity poker tournament in Palo Alto and will you be able to present anything on how this could happen? Hopefully see you there!