LAST UPDATE BEFORE A REPORT ON MONDAY.
It’s DAY 9, Friday the 27th, and I finished reading the damn stimulus bill, as it will be forever called around here. If you get a hankering to do this, I recommend you lie down until the urge goes away.
A few highlights, then a full report on Monday:
The ARRA increases the maximum Pell Grant by $500, from $4,850 to $5,350. That means more people in college and a better educated work force.
The Army Corps of Engineers will get $5 billion for construction projects. Very old atomic energy plants will be cleaned up and dams will be repaired, among other things.
In the West, there is money for water. Places which have been hit by drought conditions will get some relief.
UPDATE, END OF DAY ONE: :::::GROAN:::: I’m averaging four minutes per page, but that’s just reading it without checking its many references to other things. The damned thing is near unintelligible unless you stop and look up every previous law to which it refers in practically every paragraph. I figure doing that would add at least five hours per page, since you’d not only have to look up those references, but also understand them. So my first day’s estimate is 20 pages would require 100 hours of reading. However, as commenter Jay wrote below, “One thing, Jill, the authors of the bill assumed that the readers would be familiar with at least the basics of the referenced laws and terms, which would drastically reduce the amount of time it would take someone familiar with the activity. Both Risch and Crapo should have those people on their staff, and both of them can also rely on other Republican staffers to decipher it and give shorter, detailed summaries of each section.” I have to agree with that.
Whose idea was this, anyway?
UPDATE, FEB. 20th, DAY TWO: Ugh. Taking notes of notable things to write about later. I’m up to 122 pages (out of 407) as of today, Friday the 20th. I’d rather have my ears drilled, but will soldier on. General observation: The specific ways in which some money is to be spent is left to various Cabinet Secretaries, and some to agency heads. It seems as if a lot of big financial decisions are going to be made by individuals, but it also looks like there are few choices unless the distribution of money is endlessly stalled by too much process, or a mess of a lot of committees and subcommittees are created to make these decisions. Which sounds a lot like, “A camel is a horse designed by a committee.”
UPDATE, FEB. 21st, DAY THREE: Got to page 200. My eyeballs look like those psychotic cartoon characters, with spinning circles. There’s an awful dang lot of money for the Armed Forces in here; I’m in favor of the money but wonder if it’s going to stimulate anything. I’m going to research that one and see if I’m missing the point. Will report back, madam. Sir.
UPDATE, FEB. 24, DAY SIX: I’m at page 300. It’s becoming necessary to refer back to my notes a lot to try to spot patterns. One prominent feature that I think may be misunderstood or misinterpreted by some is that for a lot of the money to be distributed, organizations, agencies, governments etc have to apply for it and prove their project will help accomplish the purposes of the plan. Money will not be flung randomly into the atmosphere. But there are also big holes in some areas having to do with tracking and oversight.
-end of updates-
Claims of its outrageous length are all over the place – from 286 to 1,100 is what I’ve picked up so far – so I think we’ll just go with “really long.”
In fact – light bulb moment – this can be a group project. Anybody want to join me? We could get all competitive about it. C’mon, it’s February. You want to be even more stupified and depressed, don’t you?
There are an awful dang lot of lawmakers admitting they haven’t read the bill, officially called The American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, including Idaho Sen. Jim Risch and Rep. Mike Simpson, who both voted No.
The editorial page editor of the Idaho Statesman, Kevin Richert, wrote on his blog:If Congress is looking for a starting point for oversight, lawmakers could start by sorting through the stimulus plan. Lawmakers got copies of the bill hours before the votes Friday. Said Simpson, who voted no: “I don’t even know what’s in the bill yet.” Simpson isn’t alone. Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, concedes he didn’t read the bill. “There’s no human being that’s read that bill,” he told the editorial board Wednesday.
Not having enough time to read the bill before voting versus just not reading the bill are two different things. But it seems to me that they could have read it by now, or they could have been reading its iterations all along.
However. We should read it before we go all ballistic about THEM not reading it, so I’m throwing down the gauntlet for some NewWest.Net readers to join me, and update your progress and discoveries in Comments.
From glancing at a few pages, I already know it’s 1) boring; 2) uses arcane language – I hate that – and 3) heavy – in more ways than one.
Let’s tackle it to try to discover if it is truly unreadable. It very well might be, but we’ll never know until we try.
Besides, the watching-paint-dry competition is over.