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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. Previous updates... 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- I’m going to read the stimulus bill. All thousand-something pages of it. Or 407 pages of it, which is how it's posted by the White House. 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?

What? You Haven’t Read the Stimulus Bill? I HAVE.

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.

Previous updates…

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-

I’m going to read the stimulus bill. All thousand-something pages of it. Or 407 pages of it, which is how it’s posted by the White House.

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.

About Jill Kuraitis

Jill Kuraitis is an award-winning journalist who specializes in news of Idaho and the Rocky Mountain West. Her B.A. in theatre management is from UC Santa Barbara, and she went on to work in theatre, film, and politics before writing became a career. Kuraitis has two excellent grown children and lives in Boise with her husband of 30 years, abundant backyard wildlife, and two huge hairy dogs.

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50 comments

  1. Jim, that is a VERY interesting link indeed – thank you. I’m not sure I agree with all of it, but I **get** why it’s written in such an adamant manner – the Fed Up Factor.

  2. It would indeed be nice if members of Congress were to treat this massive piece of legislation as something more than a prop to wave around when the cameras are on. For all the dire predictions, warnings and arguments that have preceded the bill’s signing, you’d think that this is the most important reading task they’ve faced in their entire careers. Even more important than their lists of campaign donors.
    Show me where to obtain a copy, Jill, and I’ll help you tackle it. I would like to know for myself who’s a liar and who’s not.

  3. Bob, hit one of the links. They all lead to the same place…

  4. Right on. Thanks, Jill.

  5. I’ll tell you what I’d like to see — I’m sure there’s dozens or hundreds of bills that are longer than this one, and I’d love to see a list.

  6. Try the Patriot Act, Jill. I’ve read that one a couple times.

    As for this one, I’d much rather read the CBO summary. It’s clear, concise and I’ve read through it a couple times as well.

    One of the main problems with reading a bill of this size is that the average layman is not going to be familiar with the acronyms or language used to designate funds and stipulations. You’ll get 10 laymen arguing over the meaning of “is” without them ever grasping the real significance of the rest of the text.

    The final bill was barely changed from what our fine representatives were supplied with early last week. They also have legal and financial staff that can read and summarize on a fairly quick basis. Many sections would have no applicability to Crapo and Risch or Idaho, so many could be skimmed and skipped.

    In essence, Idaho voted for a couple of lying lazy Republicans. Wow, just like in all the years prior. Beginning to see a pattern?

  7. Jill, how’s about YOU read it, and use a highlighter on all the “juicy” parts, huh? Let me know when you’re done!
    (-;

    Of course, Jay’s got it all figured out! Like EVERYTHING (in Jay’s view of the world), it all can eventually traced back to those Wascally Wying Wazy Wepubwicans! (No partisanship here! hahaha)

  8. Sorry, Jill. I’m for reading the CBO summary instead the bill itself. I can’t cope with all that legalese. I did read my Decree of Divorce way back when, but that’s only because I wanted to make double plus sure that I really was free, Free, FREE!

    What the CBO summary has to say has encouraged me. Sure, the stimulus package is not as large as I think it should be, it’s too laden with useless tax cuts, and there needed to be considerably more cash for the states — poor, benighted, GOP-strangled California — but I reckon it’s a big step in the right direction.

    When you’ve finished reading this 263/457/1120-page bill, will you be posting a book review on Amazon? I’ll be interested to see if you give it five stars.

  9. 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.

    Whose idea was this, anyway?

  10. I’m pretty sure I voted for these assholes to do this for me. It sounds like you’re learning the ugly truth of federal government that we all knew existed but didn’t really want to see a picture of, Jill.

  11. I’m already tired and I’m just reading about you reading about it. I look forward to hearing your 1 page summary 😉

  12. Jill – I’d love to read it and accept the challenge. I only hope Walt Minnick, John Foster and Bill Croke will do the same.
    Please set up the parameters and thanks again for YOUR dedication.

  13. 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.

    In fact, since the Republican party funds a massive group of think tanks (wingnut welfare, you should look into it, Bikeboy), maybe they should start expecting those think tanks to actually produce something, other than the routine “supply side only!” catchphrases.

  14. Suzanne- Hit one of the links in the story. You can read online or print it out. My eyes can’t take the online strain, so I printed it double-sided.

    No parameters – just read and make observations here in Comments. BobWire, how is your progress?

  15. Jay, your partisan railing would be much more meaningful if a goodly number of the Democrat senators had read the bill, thus showing up the Republicans!

    I’m not trying to defend the Republicans, just trying to express my viewpoint that it’s stupid to try to turn the whole mess into another partisan bicker-fest. There’s plenty of blame to go around! (After all, a Democrat-majority Congress has been in the thick of things for a number of years now… unless you’re convinced they were powerless against that dastardly evil genius GW Bush and his nefarious team of Republican henchmen!)

    If you’re right – if the Democrats have all the enlightenment – things are BOUND to get better now, right? Time will tell.

  16. Kudos to Bill Croke for working “ilk,” “fraud,” and “liberty” into the first response. Nothing says “I repudiate you and the horse you rode in on” quite like ilk.

    The picture is amusing, but at my house, 407 pages (printed double sided, of course) rises to less than half a ream, more like one inch than four. This may be why the wives of Idaho Republicans always look so glum.

  17. Hey bikeboy,

    how about that swamp rat? or how about that sin train? How about all those earmarks that don’t exist?

    Why should anyone trust the Republican party at this time? They’ve done nothing buy lie to the nation about the stimulus, they’ve been caught time after time, yet no one is holding them responsible for those lies.

    As well, who is responsible for this mess? 8 years of a Bush Administration ignoring the economy would be a good place to start. So your counter then is that Democrats held a majority in the House for 2 years and did nothing? I would suggest that had they put in bills that would have been vetoed, I’d be even more irritated with them. They didn’t have a veto proof majority and there was no way to break the partisan mess that the Republican handlers had created. So no, the Democrats still have little to do with the responsibility of the mess we’re in today. All of that goes right back to the boy-king and his limited capability.

  18. Ok, I jumped ahead to page 192, where Division B, “TAX, UNEMPLOYMENT, HEALTH, STATE FISCAL RELIEF, AND OTHER PROVISIONS” starts, and made my way through subtitles A and B. Good stuff!

    My takeaway is that I will be buying the 2009 and 2010 copies of TurboTax, and paying my share of someone (else) to read all the jots and tittles and stitch together the algorithms with the current IRS code. It is about time for us to replace our 40-some year old natural gas furnace (and A/C heat pump? maybe; we hardly ever use the thing), and I’d be happy to let my fellow Americans chip in to motivate me to do the right thing.

    Timing is everything.

  19. I’ve, uh, been kind of busy? I thought the vote wasn’t until next Tuesday? I did read the first page.
    Honestly, though, I have too much going on at the moment to dive in. But in the coming few days I will. Really.

  20. UPDATE, DAY TWO: Ugh. Taking notes of notable things to write about later. Reading this is not the thing for a sunny afternoon. 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.

  21. UPDATE, DAY THREE: Got to page 200. Eyeballs look like psychotic cartoon character 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.

  22. I am most assuredly not going to read this whole thing, but I have some opinions:

    1) It doesn’t necessarily bother me that the entire text of the law hasn’t been read by most congresscritters, but they ought to each have a staff member read it and they ought to have personally read a summary.

    2) A friend told me last week that she was against the bill because “it’s full of pork!” Since there are almost no specifics in it, this is utter nonsense (i.e. Faux News talking point).

    3) I’m not persuaded that the majority of the spending will do anything to stop this giant recession. My liberal friends disagree, saying that the spending of the New Deal rescued us from the Great Depression, but there’s no absolute proof that’s the case. The Depression was cured by a number of things including a) the passage of time, b) non-spending reforms in the New Deal, and c) WWII. The government spending of the New Deal probably helped, but they didn’t comprise the entire cure.

  23. I cheated and just looked at what kind of pork my state got, listed by cities, projects and monetary amounts. And then read the newspaper gleaned bits and pieces of what is coming to myh area. It is apparent that a lot of stuff got dropped in front of the fan, and the stuff that stuck was apportioned on political parameters. Who’d a ever thunk?

    Some of it will create problems in the future. Constructing a building from which to expand social welfare spending creates some jobs for a while, and then if there is not a significant uptick in economic activity, a building without the funds to staff and a building too small to serve the growing client list. And who will have the guts, the political will to decrease social welfare spending after recovery? Me thinks drunken social worker spending in good times is biting some serious ass in State legislatures, and the Stimulus is going to be too little, too late. ( I would not want to belittle sailors for this mess.)

    WPA money built Timberline Lodge in Oregon. It is a wonderful coming together of the arts and crafts with grand design, and a testimony to personal skill and accomplishment. And then it sat empty for the duration of WWII and years after, until a trust puppy from the East Coast arranged a lease with the USFS and his family has succeeded him in leasing and managing the place ever since, even with a hostile NGO presence making restoration and maintenance a process of negotiation worthy of any State Dept. activities. I do hope that our Pelosi Stimulus has a broader scope and goals than FDR’s WPA. I did got to High School in a WPA build building that was beautiful and had first class auditorium and gymnasiums. I did not see any schools on the list for my state.

    In reading about the Stimulus, and the rancor felt by those who “endured” 10 years of Republican control of Congress, it is mostly from and by people who did not live through over 40 straight years of Democrat control of Congress. I honestly believe that the Republicans had no real life experience to lead when they gained control. My memory of lobby efforts before Republican control in 1994, was meeting with sub committee staff on some issue, and the Democrats had a staff of 7 or 14 and the Republicans had one Justice Dept. supplied lawyer and sometimes one or two staff on the subcommittee. And with a 30 member majority, the House would find a way to staff a committee with twice as many Democrats as Republicans, which in no way was representative of that party in the House. When the Republican party was precluded from the workings of the House on such a grand scale, for over 4 decades, I doubt if the Republicans ever got a handle on how to govern, and were only following the Tip O’Neil model of autocracy, and then the Tom Foley enhancement of that model. All the Democrat committee employees who were replaced by the Republican 1994 majority just walked across the street and were employed by the Clinton administration in the agencies their committee’s had jurisdiction over. They never left Washington DC, and never left power. Theirs was the job of obfuscating any Republican attempts at conservative reform in D.C. They had 6 years to chuck sabots into the wheels of government. The old saying that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely appeared then and appears to be in play with Pelosi. This Stimulus Bill was allowed to be marked up only in Ways and Means, and in Appropriations. She controls the Rules committee. If you put a lot of money in there for public works, but don’t allow Commerce and sub committees on Transportation or GSA to vet it somewhat, you essentially get the bill the Speaker wanted, and Obama and Emanuel had to go along to get along, warts and all. Looking for warts after the fact is probably not a good use of time. We got to dance with the gal what brung us, as Yogi said, and try to live with what we got.

    Democrats in Congress had marching orders to support the Stimulus from autocrat Pelosi, and to state that a Republican minority that could not change the outcome, and who was not alone in not being able to read through and understand Pelosi’s canned bill, is really only political rant. There was no political injury for Republicans, and for a Democrat to vote no was a death sentence as to his or her ability to function in the House. Who was pointing the fickle finger of fate at whom is the clear meaning of the vote.

    There is a Democrat downside to the Pelosi Power Play, and that is that Pelosi disenfranchised a good deal of her committee and subcommittee chairs who had gained their office after suffering in the minority for a decade, and were totally left out of the Stimulus process. You can’t kick your sub commanders in the genitals, and expect absolute loyalty in the future. Her depriving Dingle of his senior right to chair Commerce, and her barely disguised support for fellow Californian Waxman to challenge and take control of Commerce, will haunt her. Assassinating party loyalists to drive a personal agenda does have paybacks someday. We will find out Dingle was an impediment to gun control legislation, and there will be a fight to the political death over that before Obama leaves office.

    It appears from the signs in front of the gas stations that $33 a barrel crude does not suppress fuel prices, and Big Oil will get the extra money the Stimulus put in pay checks. If you don’t get a pay check, the situation becomes more dire. A $0.40 rise per gallon in a little over a month needs to be noticed. The far left celebrates because use will again be limited. How much more it depressed consumer spending anywhere else will be noticed, and if not, the cut in payroll taxes was a waste of precious resources that could have employed someone elsewhere.

    The $7500 tax credit for home buyers is a non-starter. None can get a loan and fewer still need to until they have some security of employment and income. The developers who built the most homes are still folding their tents, most with US Bankruptcy Court assistance, and lumber mills are still shutting down logging and loggers. My Senators, both Democrats heavily dependent upon Enviro money, trumpeted the $260 million for Oregon to thin public forests to reduce fuels and produce merchantable logs for the market in the coming weeks. My only question is which mill will be open to buy them? And how soon will that lack of interest be construed to become the end of public timber offerings. This has a Mark Rey smell to it.

    Washington to the north is looking at filling an $8 billion budget hole, and Oregon a $3 billion dollar hole. It appears tax collections are going to be short about a $1 Billion per million of population for State governments. An average of a thousand bucks per person. If Stimulus works, how many years before it trickles down to raise local tax collections?

    It appears that Oregon gets $80 per month increase for a family of four in food stamps. So the generationally never employed got a raise, and the Johnny-come-latelys , new to the dole due to increased job loss, will settle in at a higher subsidy. The unemployed appear to get a $25 weekly cash raise, and that appears to go with extended benefits for 52 weeks instead of 26. (Will they become Obama appointee scoflaws and not pay their taxes on that income?) Our water systems will be improved with stimulus money, and in time, our rates will increase to maintain the improvements. Our local schools will get more money to serve special education students and students in poverty, $18 million for Salem schools alone. Our local three county area will get $25.1 million to investigate internet crimes and respond to violence against women. Locally, we are to get about $1 million to benefit the homeless, low income families, the jobless, with housing assistance.

    All in all, the Stimulus is supposed to create 8,800 jobs in my Congressional district, from our part of the $1.8 Billion Oregon is getting. How that can happen with spending $8 million on transportation infrastructure in our three county area is beyond me. However, if it SAVES some jobs, it will have been worth it.
    I cannot see that in any form. I cannot see how the Stimulus will create 500 jobs, let alone 8,800 as is claimed by the creators of this bill. Time will tell.

    My solace is that next month I begin to benefit from the greatest Ponzi of all, and am getting punished for not being on the medical part of it since I turned 65. My bad. Only in America can you pay a price for not being on the dole, for still paying for health insurance after 65, for waiting to collect until you really got old. Go figure.

  24. “I cheated and just looked at what kind of pork my state got, listed by cities, projects and monetary amounts.”

    Where is that list?

  25. Jones, go here: http://projects.nytimes.com/44th_president/stimulus and hit every link that says “Aid to States.”

  26. Jones, Jill, et al….my cheat sheet is:

    http://www.stimuluswatch.org/project//by_state

  27. Bearbait, that is not a cheat sheet. Stimulus Watch is a list, created by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, of ” ‘shovel-ready’ projects in cities around the country that the mayors would like to see funded.” That’s all it is. Stimulus Watch is merely a list of proposals developed by a bunch of mayors. It is *not* the list of projects that will receive funds. See here: http://www.stimuluswatch.org/home/faqs#faq_1 for more information.

    Jill, I have read the NYT list and it is also not a list of projects. It is a list of things for which money has been appropriated. There are no specifics.

    No one can look and see what their state or area is going to get because, simply put, that has not been determined. If you don’t believe me, ask your Congressional representative. I did, in person, and mine (a Republican who, by definition, voted against it) assured me there were no specifics and that the bill consisted only of general appropriations.

    Even where the bill gets a little bit specific it is still very general. Here is an example from page 78:

    “For an additional amount for ‘Military Construction, Navy
    and Marine Corps,’ $280,000,000… to carry out planning and design and military construction projects in the United States … $100,000,000 … for troop housing, $80,000,000 … for child development centers, and $100,000,000 …. for energy conservation and alternative energy projects.”

    No one knows precisely where that $280 million will be spent, only that it will go toward the types of projects named, somewhere in the US. In the case above there is some specificity in that the work will presumably take place on Marine or Naval bases, but there are lots of those.

  28. Jones: You know that this deal is a bag of money to be dropped like balloons and confetti from the convention ceiling, and the quickest and those with the biggest bags will collect the most. But we do have politicians TELLING us what they believe is in the bag for us. Right now. Are they to be believed? I went to a town hall meeting with our Senior Senator, Ron Wyden, and I listened to what he is telling us and what his aides believe is coming this way. I also a reading the Gannett Salem Statesman Journal, and the Oregonian newspapers. I also follow an ag lobby blog site. Hell, I know I am never going to find out the truth, or maybe even most of it. But what I see, from the sort of intangible ways that the information is being disseminated, is that most of it is wishing dollars in one hand and pooping realities in the other. The sad thing is that it is becoming apparent that none knows what the end result will be. Not me, not my congressman nor my senators. And as long as Pelosi has this deal all held hostage by rules and confined to Ways and Means (Charlie Rangel) and Appropriations (David Obey of Wisconsin), none of us will know anything for quite a while. And the rest of the House will begin to revolt against the process and it will become a brouhaha in short time. And not a Republican involved. They have no standing, no crucial votes. They are the dead horse, well beaten. Unless, of course, you jump on a dead one, and then even a dead horse can “neigh” by forcing decomposition gases through its nose.

    So I very will modify my opining to say that from what I am able to glean from multiple sources, I have yet to see how 8,800 jobs will be created in my end of the world. We are not done losing them yet. There are still logging sides and sawmills running that will have to close soon. That no grass seed is moving bodes ill for this farm economy. Add to that the huge unmoved frozen inventory of blueberries about to crush the farm gate price, a falling demand for designer hops, a national milk surplus, an ice storm and silver thaw that destroyed most of the hoop and green houses used in the nursery business, and the crop loss, which did not appear to have a robust market to sell into, and my end of the world looks grim. No paper being used, no lumber or plywood, ag crops going unsold, lingering after affects of a past el nino and a California drought has emptied the ocean of Sacramento Basin chinook salmon and that season will not open this year. Our Governor did not reappoint the sportsman’s tireless advocate to the Pacific Marine Fisheries Council because he did not loudly endorse the Governor’s Legacy plan of being the first Oregon Governor to establish Wilderness in the zone from high tide to three miles out in multiple areas along our coast (thought to be a disaster to Dungeness crab fisheries as that is where they are caught), so the sportsmen might not get to fish, either. In that whole ocean reserve construct, none mentioned that every island, rock, sea stack, reef, on the Oregon Coast was included and ceded by Oregon to the USFWS years ago into a coast long Wildlife Refuge with a thousand foot no entry zone around the low tide line. That is a HUGE amount of land now protected.

    The ethanol refinery built last year with great tax relief and grants from the state folded into Chapt 11 last week, in a state where 10% of gasoline has to be ethanol by law. All the wind power farms are selling their power out of state, to satisfy green power mandates elsewhere. Oregon makes the power only to see it leave. The ugliness of the endless white towers we get and somewhere else somebody can poof out their chest and tell you how green they are. Lovely. Now I see that solar panels are being built in plants in China that a year ago made things like latex gloves only last year. R&D;, plant construction, cheap labor, and no Nanny State, and Nanny NGO oversight, and China is finessing the clean energy industry, fueled in China, of course, by coal fired electricity…..yep…I can see some intellectual conflict there. But I can also see that means little of the new solar demand will be met by stateside manufacturing if only due to cost. So you do wonder who will get the most of out the stimulus in our country, now missing its once mighty manufacturing component. We can assemble infrastructure built elsewhere. The Lego Economic Model.

    As fast as we are having to downsize, reduce, the government agencies of oversight, the building inspectors and engineers, I do wonder how we can spend Stimulus and put it through the rigor of Nanny State supervision of all parts and pieces of construction. 3 and 4 day a week planning sections in the courthouse. No friday inspections, which is no friday cement pours, and you maybe pour on monday and then go home until thursday waiting for it to cure enough, and Gee, you lost a week, and your employees at least two days of work.

    I am trying to be optimistic in a gloomy and grim time. My experience is that government was hurtful in good times, and I don’t know how they will improve on that to make times better. And I am just talking about oversight. I do wonder if we can get there from here. Even with a Plan Called the Stimulus.

  29. Bearbait, in general I agree with the substance of what you’ve said, and as I said in my first comment I am not a fan of this legislation. But when you remark, “I have yet to see how 8,800 jobs will be created in my end of the world,” I believe you may be missing the point.

    The vast majority of the jobs that will be created by this bill are construction jobs. Much of the point of creating construction jobs is to make jobs for people *in* *this* *country.* US construction jobs, almost by definition, can’t take place outside of the US.

    It’s true that none of these jobs will directly cause any blueberries or grass seed to be purchased. But the point in creating a construction job is to put wages in the hands of an American who will use those wages to buy blueberries, and the farmer who sells those blueberries will go out and buy grass seed, and the benefits will trickle down.

    Once again, I don’t agree with the bill. But I do understand its intent.

  30. 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.

  31. Jill: Every day our legislatures meet, and every day they get more bad economic news. Will there be the proper people in place to be able to access the Stimulus? Our next biennium budget will be 25% lower than the last one. The political process determines who is left to staff the State jobs.

    The cost of about anything is at least 60% labor and salaries. Those have a multiplier in the local economy of 5. The state and the Feds will get back 20% or more in payroll and income taxes. The net effect will be about a 2.5 multiplier in to the economy. The hard goods will come from the cheapest source, much of that now offshore. We are, as has been said and touted, a consumer society, and one that has run out of new money. It was not the lack of oil that collapsed our economy, it was the lack of investment opportunity. Wall Street created a Potemkin Village investment community, and Mr. Ponzi was the Mayor.

    Jill, I wish you well as you grind through the actual bill. I did see yesterday that a former Secret Service heavyweight is going to vet the State spending. Muscle from Treasury. A great start would be to vet the whole of Treasury to make sure that they are the least paying THEIR taxes. Too much to ask?

  32. Bb, no, not too much to ask, for the top guns. But in theory, if every single government employee has to be perfect, it’s unrealistic. Very few of us have led a perfect life. To find people who are not only highly qualified for specialized jobs, who are available, and who are willing to accept a job – AND they must be perfect – isn’t possible. We’d have a bunch of unqualified “perfect” people running the government.

    I do not refer to corruption, crimes, etc. But sometimes, we must show we are not black and white thinkers by considering each case on its own.

  33. I see today that Senator Byrd of W. Virginia has written Pres. Obama and told him that his appointing all the tzars to run different aspects of American life was outside his Constitutional bailiwick, and that his appointments to high level posts were to be vetted and approved by the Senate, as that is specifically described in the Constitution. Interesting that Constitutional protector Byrd is taking on Constitutional scholar and law school teacher Obama on those very points. I have to agree with the Senator from W.Va. that it is up to the Senate to approve Presidential appointments. At least in a rubber stamp process, there is the chance to ask a probing question here and there. I am concerned about thoughts and thought process in appointees, but the party in control is there to promote their philosophy., which I fully accept. Hopefully, scofflaws and smarty pants know-it-alls who dodge the tax requirements we all must face, no matter party, religion, citizenship, ethnicity, race or gender, need not be a part of governance. But that is just my opinion.

  34. Really, bearbait? Or do you say that only because of the party in power has been more transparent and the problems addressed in public, rather than in secret, as has been the historical method?

    As well, do you even know what you are talking about? The “Czars” are advisers without direct power, they are experts in their areas. Byrd’s letter is cautionary, and his fears are based on how the last little Republican President handled executive authority on advisers.

  35. Jay: now speculate as to why Senator Byrd took the time and effort to write to Pres. Obama. You would not, because you think that if it is not Bush, it is just dandy. And I don’t think Byrd is of the mind to chastise his own Party leader for drill. He has a concern about Presidential appointments. You can say they won’t really have any power to….yadda yadda…Byrd, who has been then longer than most, must have thought otherwise.

    Obama has to decide on what executive privilege is, for the President, and how it might affect his Presidency. The call to over ride some of the Bush decisions, that Bush et al determined were covered by executive privilege, is on Pres. Obama’s desk. And if he does decide to diminish executive privilege, that will remove any veil that might be in order to better govern on his part. Dicey deal, really. That of setting precedent. A new precedent. It is like a baitfish down a ling cod mouth…omni- directional teeth—all leading to the gut. A one way deal. You can’t go back. You can’t back out. And Byrd is watching.

  36. How come nobody is discussing whether this should have been done at all…either the banker bailout or this porkaroonie stimulus? There IS a question as to whether such a “response” on the part of the government is warranted at all.

  37. Maybe because there are only two sides to that argument and they’ve been done over and over and over again, Skinner. The only people saying that this shouldn’t have been done are the historical revisionists, trying to say the New Deal was bad and are trying desperately to defend the Republican group action.

    When you look at anything except the Rasmussen poll, you find that the American people overwhelmingly support the stimulus package.

    Oh, and can you please name one piece of “pork” before you spout off more nonsense, Davie?

    Oh, and the banker bailout was your boy’s plan, Obama just was left with half of it, which he is using, but with more accountability than any Republican asked for.

  38. Why speculate, bearbait? Your tingling tinfoil hat is enough for you, you think there is something there, and I think it is nothing more than indicative of the previous abuse of executive privilege.

    But the actual test to see which of us is right will be where Obama comes down on the Karl Rove testimony. If Obama is really about transparency then Karl Rove better be planning for some time behind bars, which also means that any advisers to Obama will also be fair game later. If they did things illegally, then they don’t deserve the cover of the executive branch and any President should hang them out to dry for giving advice that could have, or did, lead to illegal actions.

    For example, see John Yoo and the repercussions he is facing.

  39. UPDATE, FEB. 26, DAY EIGHT: Almost finished. It’s amazing how many other things I can find to do when I need to sit down and read this thing.

    There is a lot of money in the bill for alternative energy projects and updating existing infrastructures such as our electricity grid. This is particularly encouraging because of its potential for jobs, the improvement of the quality of life for all of us, and that it is a long-term investment that is penny-wise and pound-wise.

  40. Jay: Bank by the numbers was the law of the day until the 1970’s, and then those “bank by the numbers” laws were eroded in Congress by first a long term of Democrat majorities, and then a short 10 year Republican majority that began in 1995, and all the while the economy grew by leaps and bounds when compared to the stagnation of the 1950’s and ’60’s. The country turned a corner, took a different route, and once again it has been proven that banks have to be heavily and tightly regulated. They have been “nationalized” with the FDIC guarantee and insurance anyway, so perhaps banks first need to be defined, those defined recognized, and then regulated.

    Willy Sutton said it best. He robbed banks because that is “where they keep the money.” And bankers rob the people because there is SO much money. The number of phony funds and investment brokers that continue to surface daily, like bodies finally buoyant rising from the bottom of the lake, is mind boggling. You do have to wonder how much of the Stimulus will be siphoned off by fraud, graft and corruption, as is the way of so many city and local governments in the U.S. as I write. Pres. Obama has so far signed 4 executive orders defining how unions will be recognized and be favored in all Federal contracting. Federal Government and Union are now synonymous. The Stimulus does have campaign debt payoffs, and will be partisan. My partisan statement is that the people he is choosing to assist his Presidency support unions but don’t pay Social Security, Medicaid, and other payroll taxes on the non-union people they have mowing their lawns, cleaning their bathrooms, watching their children….until they are caught in the vetting process, and then some, like Geitner, get a pass. That is so Bush.

    Jill: You’re a trooper. And if you can really make sense of it all, a genius as well! Now, when you are done, do a column about your take on how a Congressman or Senator must work 36 hours a day without sleep just to read the bills he or she votes on…or NOT!! With hundreds of bills introduced in a legislative session, and some of them large and convoluted like the Stimulus, I really do have to wonder what Pres. Obama, his-self, has read of the Stimulus. I have a distinct feeling that he is just getting Cliff Notes from staff, and that is where the trouble always is. Some idiot savant and advocate in charge, with a very thin slice of worldly interest, knows the landscape of a particular kind of legislation, and they have fill-in-the-blanks blueprint software with which to write bills of that nature. And, we might have generational screw ups in bill after bill if only due to some part of how they are written. I mean, like if Microsoft can’t get software anywhere near perfect, how can we trust US Govt software to build a good bill for legislation? The Piranahs of the Bar then have a feeding frenzy. The system and quality control have to be more lax than we know, and fraught with mistakes that no Congressman or woman will ever catch or know. I do hope you will report any overt weirdness or inconsistencies you find.

  41. Jill, would you care to do some fact checking of some of bearbait’s claims about campaign debt payback in the Stimulus? For some strange reason, I just don’t trust him to be the least bit truthful about anything in the stimulus. In fact, it sounds like a Rush Limbaugh dittohead “fact”.

  42. Jay: parsing words. By “pay off” I do mean promises and aid directed to supporting states and entities, like unions. Not money. Pres. Obama raised three times as much money as McCain, the candidate of the rich. Much of it came from unions, including public employee unions. It is the largesse of the government, Obama’s name on the Pelosi Stimulus, that will be directed to places where the support was the greatest. I call that “paying off on a campaign debt.” He owes those people for their support. To the victor goes the spoils. It is partisan, and will be partisan, because that is how it works. It also is quite my right to point that out, and to note that is how is has worked and does work. Pres. Obama has to pay the piper, play his part. He has promises to keep, and some we don’t know what they were. We had a fawning press for so long, it is taking them a while to get up to their task of being inquisitors.

    And I see in this mornings news that AG Holder is asking the assault rifle, et al, ban to be reinstated. Now you know why Commerce and Energy chair Dingle of Michigan, a pro-gun guy, was ousted by Pelosi machinations, and replaced by anti-gun chicken little Waxman of Beverly Hills. The fix was in before the election, folks, and the pay offs are going to see the light of day, and some will be disappointed in the outcomes and the process. That Americans have to have gun rights infringed because of corruption and inept governance in Mexico is appalling, to say the least. All the subjects that Pres. Obama glossed over, said not to worry about, during his campaign now are coming to light in his having been exposed as being the Artful Dodger, and truth challenged. The new pretty face, the erudite speaker, with a “Government knows best” agenda the full extent of which is only now coming to light, was more smoke and mirrors than the supplicants want us to believe. You can cynically deride the conservatives, but don’t diss them for being correct in their doubting. They were absolutely correct. And Bill said he would be very doubtful if gun control saw the light of day….yeah…it only took a month for that day light to shine.

    My epiphany was when I read recently that Deng Xiaoping’s slogan for his succession to Mao, his political message, was “change” and “openness.” Gee, and here I thought those were original BH Obama words. He learned those campaign words in high school somewhere in the Far East.

  43. So you defend your use of opinion as fact as “parsing”?

    And while your opinion may in fact have some historical standing, it doesn’t mean that it is business as usual for Obama. That is your assumption, and you know what they say about assumptions.

  44. Jay: The assumptions that come true validate more than they should, but that is the collateral damage a politician must endure when they first deign to accept deception as a means to the end. This assault rifle deal from AG Holder was so predictable, and so denied by the supplicants bowing at Candidate Obama’s feet, washing them with soft cloths, holy water worthy of the ordained one, Our Leader in Waiting….ka-ching! The Obama Presidency is paying off like a Vegas slot machine…and why should it not? After all, Senate Majority Leader Reid ran the Nevada Gaming Commission as part of his experience to be a Senator. He should be well versed in what happens when you don’t pay your debts, and advising President Obama as to the consequences. Sir Charles Barkley found out. He owed money in Vegas, and they collected…right now!! Isn’t Barkley the black guy who said his people had supported Democrats for 80 years, the party of the poor, and they are still poor. This regime of change is about going backwards to pay off the campaign debts, and the openness is about being open after you are elected. That you deceive to get elected is just politics. A whole lot of the payoffs are intra-party. It is the doling of favors and pork to the faithful, all determined NOT by Pres. Obama, but by Speaker Pelosi. That was HER Stimulus. She had it written, did not let Congress examine it, made the Rules in the Rules Committee as to what light of day it would see, how it would be heard, and who could speak, and how long the examination by Appropriations and Ways and Means would be, and here it is. Vote unanimously or lose, Democrats. Paybacks will be a bitch. The Republicans had ZERO to gain by voting for it, and there was no political loss (under Pelosi they have NOTHING…no power to change a thing or to be even heard) to vote against the Stimulus. If you watched the President address the joint Congress, you would note that Pelosi was jumping up and down, clapping, like a minor league Dominican short stop. Biden couldn’t keep up. Quit trying. He was too busy doing the Sarah Palin smiles, winks, and finger pointing, thumbs up stuff. That was a hoot. There must be a Veep Handbook they all follow. Pelosi was doing the squat jumps because she was cheering for herself, for her bill, for her power to drive the process. Those cheers and claps were not for Obama. Those were self congratulatory. And she has more in store for us. Her mouthpiece in the White House has yet to stand up to her political bullying. I hope he does not. We do have elections upcoming next year. They will not be referenda on Obama, but of Queen Pelosi. Speaker Gingrich found out how hard it is to be a hardliner and keep the ship off the rocks. Lesson Pelosi will come soon enough if the process becomes more dictatorial.

    Or, if there is a good cop-bad cop deal going on between the administration and the Congress, that, too, will be found out in due time. The press has fun with that kind of thing. And heaven knows, they do have to find a way to make themselves again relevant or go the way of the Rocky Mountain News and soon the Seattle P-I.

  45. Bearbait: there is no such thing as “banking by the numbers.” Perhaps you’re talking about something that is known by a similar name.

    For those of us who need a history lesson, the 1929 Crash and subsequent Great Depression had a number of causes, but one of the most important was imprudent lending by American banks (sound familiar?) which, at the time, enjoyed very little government regulation. In the 30s, under FDR, comprehensive US banking regulations were imposed by the passage of the Glass Steagall Act.

    However, contrary to what Bearbait would have us believe, the gradual erosion of the Glass Steagall Act was initiated not by the Democrats but by the Great Deregulator — President Reagan — and continued by Bush I. In the 80s. Look it up.

    (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glass-Steagall_Act)

    Very little of the Glass Steagall Act was still in existence by the time Clinton arrived on the scene, but yes, in 1999 (under Clinton) the last stake was driven into its heart by Republicans Phil Gramm of Texas, Republican Jim Leach of Iowa, and Republican Thomas Bliley of Virginia in the form of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act which repealed Glass Steagall.

    So we were all fat, dumb, and happy in 2008, thinking we were still protected by the banking regulations of the New Deal era when, in fact, we were not.

    I agree with you 1000% that the banking industry must be re-regulated. However, the Republicans who agree with you on this point are almost universally new converts to that idea — in general, regulation is a pet project of Democrats while DE-regulation is a favorite activity of Republicans.

    One other fact you have wrong is in your statement that Obama received money from unions. He did not. The Obama campaign refused all union and other PAC money.

    Please read the following article for further information about Obama’s indebtedness to unions and other groups:

    http://www.boston.com/news/politics/2008/articles/2008/11/09/wish_lists_piling_up_for_obama/

    Life is full of inconvenient truths.

  46. Jones: Convenient lies? The november story in the Boston paper is speculating as to what Obama will, would, do or not do. We now have a record of 4 executive decisions in favor of unions, signed by President Obama. That is real. The Boston story is historical speculation. And, the paper lost three zeros in the campaign money raised by Obama…It was $883 Million, not thousand. By just under a million donors….So, about $900 per donor…real grass root numbers…like everyman had $900 to give to anyone. How much came from grass roots sheiks and mullahs over seas? For every kid who gave a buck, someone else had to come up with another $900 to make it all work out…

    The “bank by the numbers” deal was first breached on interest rates, when Carter inflation had the money market rates at over 20%, banks that were regulated by Glass-Steagal had no way to be in the market, and could not raise money. The “market” value of money was many times the G-S regulated rates. Was that the four year window when Republicans controlled the Senate? Or before? Whatever, my term “bank by the numbers” is my description of how banks had to work after FDR came to office. One size fits all. Bankers could not speculate. And rightly so, as they had been proven to be damned poor at it by the advent of the Great Depression. (I remember putting logging checks in the bank and making more profit on the interest I drew daily, than I could make logging, and then the 1979 crash in lumber prices, Reagan, and the end of high interest and inflation.) No matter, banks became more “liberated” by degrees of deregulation until they failed again. The first time we let the regulations be breached, it was shame on Congress. The next time it should be shame on the electorate. We know better, and so damn well should the politicians.

  47. Bearbait, in your previous comment you said “Obama raised three times as much money as McCain, the candidate of the rich. Much of it came from unions, including public employee unions.” My point is that this is an untrue statement.

    It’s completely true that Obama has made pro-union decisions and will almost certainly continue. But to say he has done so because he’s financially beholden to them is false. Could it be that he actually believes in what he’s doing? Oh, the horror!

    Obama also did not receive money from “sheiks and mullahs overseas” because it’s illegal for federal candidates to accept money from anyone who is not a US citizen or legal permanent resident. If you have evidence that such contributions were accepted you, as a lawabiding American, are obligated to report it and the Obama campaign is obligated to return the donations immediately.

    Your statement implying that the Carter administration had something to do with banking deregulation is 100% false. The deregulation of the banks was begun by Reagan and finished under Bush I and Clinton.

    Remember the S&L;debacle of the late 80s and early 90s? Remember the Keating Five? If you do, you may recall that one of the Keating Five was none other than Senator John McCain. Ooops! One of the non-Senators implicated in the scandal was none other than Neil Bush (brother of George W.). And good ol’ Phil Gramm, co-author of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, was a finance advisor to Presidential candidate McCain. Ooops again.

  48. LAST UPDATE, REPORT ON MONDAY. DAY 9, Friday Feb. 27:

    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.

  49. A robust round of applause for a dedicated journalist. Hear! Hear!!

    Jill: Thank you…for you will be the one journalist I will trust to give us the straight scoop!!! Again, thank you!!!

  50. Note to all commenters in this thread: I have republished the story under the title, “Scrubbing Livestock More Fun than Reading Stimulus Bill” which is the top story on NewWest.Net/Boise. Please pick up this comment thread there. Jill