The Obama Administration has banked a lot of political capital on the economic "stimulus" package signed into law today, and is hailing the measure as a sound-minded reaction to a dreary economic climate. In truth, many of the programs in the bill are not only wasteful and inefficient, but have the potential to do some real long-term harm to U.S. policy.
- A dramatic rollback of the landmark improvements to welfare enacted in 1996 -- one of the most popular and measurably effective pieces of legislation ever;
- A back-door measure to consolidate more power over individual health care decisions under federal government control;
- The misguided and incendiary "Buy American" provision -- a veritable repeat of the disastrous protectionist policies of the 30's, and sure tinder for a trade firestorm with our European and Asian trading partners;
- Billions upon billions for special interest spending that very much represents the "business as usual" that President Obama so vigorously campaigned against. (The nation's most respected newspapers are openly taking issue at the suggestion that the package is free of "earmarks" for favored congressional leaders.)
The economic stimulus bill is merely a nearsighted return to government spending policies which have been discredited over and over again [PDF].
For more on the package, check out Cato's Fiscal Reality page.