Thursday, September 9, 2010

About that Stimulus: Where's Stimulus Czar Earl Devaney?

Remember the $787 billion stimulus? Of course you do. Three political scientists have just released their report on the massive piece of legislation that was spread far and wide to politicians whose districts were not the neediest, so no surprise the stimulus did not stimulate. So where is the Stimulus Czar Earl Devaney, tasked with safeguarding how the funds were spent?

$787 Billion Stimulus

The key quote:
...legislative leaders or lawmakers seated on committees of jurisdiction – steered resources disproportionately in their own direction. Why?  Because they had the ability to do so.
From The Weekly Standard:
Three political scientists, James G. Gimpel and Frances E. Lee of the University of Maryland, and Rebecca U. Thorpe of the University of Washington, presented a devastating critique of the first stimulus bill at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association in Washington, D.C. last week.

Their paper, titled “The Distributive Politics of the Federal Stimulus: The Geography of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009,” finds that the funding allocated under last year’s massive spending measure was poorly targeted based on economic need.
Additionally, the way the funds were allocated fits with a lot of Americans’  negative preconceptions of how Washington really works.
Gimpel and his colleagues ask an important question.  Did the stimulus money flow disproportionately to the areas with high unemployment and large numbers of mortgage foreclosures?  The simple answer: No.
To the contrary, the study reveals the severity of the recession had little bearing on allocation of the dollars.
Yet distribution decisions were far from random.  Gimpel and his colleagues write: “Clearly the ARRA did target federal resources to particular locations, just the wrong ones from a need standpoint.”
So how did the money get targeted?  The research supports two other explanations.  The first is known in political science circles as “distributive theory.”
This approach posits that members of Congress in key institutional positions – such as legislative leaders or lawmakers seated on committees of jurisdiction – steered resources disproportionately in their own direction. Why?  Because they had the ability to do so....
Call it the “pork barrel” approach to politics. 
What does Czar Earl Devaney have to say about this? Has anyone asked? Probably not. Where is Czar Earl Devaney?

Cartoon courtesy of John C. Williams at toonpool

Posted by Maggie @ Maggie's Notebook

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