The partisan stimulus

Why am I not surprised? From the Mercatus Center at George Mason University (and via the Washington Examiner):

A new analysis of the $157 billion distributed by the American Reinvestment and Recovery act, popularly known as the stimulus bill, shows that the funds were distributed without regard for what states were most in need of jobs.

(snip)

Additionally, Mercatus found that stimulus funds were not disbursed geographically with any special regard for low-income Americans. “We find no correlation between economic indicators and stimulus funding. Preliminary results find no statistically significant effect of unemployment, median income or mean income on stimulus funds allocation,” said the report.

That’s what happens when the goal is to spend as much money as quickly as possible, without taking the time even to know where the money might be needed. And it’s one reason why this recovery, despite the hundreds of billions of dollars that the feds have dropped from their proverbial helicopters, is expected to be far more sluggish than the usual rebound from a deep recession.

But here’s the kicker:

The Mercatus Center analysis also found that Democratic congressional districts received on average almost double the funding of Republican congressional districts. Republican congressional districts received on average $232 million in stimulus funds while Democratic districts received $439 million on average.

That’s a difference of nearly 2-to-1. Controlling for all other factors, the researchers found that “having a Republican representative decreases a district’s stimulus award by 24 percent.”

As we’re often reminded by members of the majority party, whichever it is at the time, elections have consequences. But this is just shameless — and something to keep in mind the next time you hear members of Congress talking about acting in the interests of the nation.

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37 comments Add your comment

Jess

December 18th, 2009
10:59 am

The primary objective of the stimulus was never to help the economy. It was a giant political payback and pork barrel scheme, which some hoped may help the economy. Obama was warned by France and Germany that this could result in slowing down economic recovery when he was trying to pressure other countries to join in our folly. Many economist espressed the same fear.

Once he pours another couple hundred billion from TARP recovery, we will have poured a trillion dollars, which our children and grandchildren must repay, down a rat hole.

And as we speak, Obama in in Copenhagan trying his best to commit the US to trillions more for Global warming purposes while his trillion plus dollar health reform plan is being debated back here in the states.

At this point, I think the biggest obstacle to a free market recovery is fear. People are afraid to spend, and employers are afraid to hire. They don’t know what’s going to happen next, but they know who will pay for it.

arnold

December 18th, 2009
11:02 am

Conservative thinktank, founded at George Mason University. Why not quote from an unbiased source?

Peter

December 18th, 2009
11:05 am

OK Kyle…… Question would a Republican area be considered Rich and doing fine, as compared to a Democratic area ?

Kyle Wingfield

December 18th, 2009
11:10 am

arnold: Mercatus is considered much more of a libertarian outfit than a conservative one. Anyway, if their numbers are right, who cares about their political orientation?

Peter: The analysis controlled for among other things, “the district’s unemployment, mean income (i.e., the average income of a given wage earner in the district), and the percentage of employed persons working in the construction sector in 2008.” So the answer would appear to be no.

Kyle Wingfield

December 18th, 2009
11:13 am

Further to your question, Peter: The stereotype of the rich supporting Republicans exclusively or even overwhelmingly is out of date. Look at who Wall Street, Silicon Valley, Hollywood supported.

My guess is that, above all other factors, the rich tend to support the front-runners.

frank burns

December 18th, 2009
11:15 am

I don’t suppose it has anything to do with Palin and other GOP governors who refused to accept stimulus funds for their states? Obviously those states have more GOP districts than Democrat ones.

sam

December 18th, 2009
11:17 am

check the districts before you comment on this kyle..my bet is they are large population, urban centers…

j tioga

December 18th, 2009
11:19 am

One more reason for districts to turn Democratic. Various GOP governors self-centeredly turned down the stimulus money, hence the difference measured here.

Jimmy62

December 18th, 2009
11:25 am

Frank Burns- The South Carolina and Palin both turned down stimulus funds, S.C. was overruled by their legislature, Palin by her successor. So your points are invalid.

And was it self-centered to turn this down? I would argue that it was definitely not. You can’t only talk about the money, you have to pay attention to the strings attached, too. Like less local power and decision making ability, more concentration of power and decision making in D.C.

Kyle Wingfield

December 18th, 2009
11:28 am

The governors-declining-stimulus-money was always a bit overblown. They were talking about money that forced them to expand benefits for the long term while only getting aid to do so in the short term. I haven’t looked into it in a while, but this report suggests we’re talking about a very small portion of the money, i.e. not enough to skew the figures: http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/story?id=8452396

Kyle Wingfield

December 18th, 2009
11:31 am

The urban centers point might be a good one in terms of per capita money. The only thing I’ve found in the study (so far) that relates to per capita is in terms of income, suggesting that low-income areas got more money per capita. But that doesn’t necessarily tell us anything — some high-income areas, e.g. Wall Street, have been hit hard by the recession and unemployment, and the point was to shore up the economy, not redistribute income, right?

Kyle Wingfield

December 18th, 2009
11:36 am

In any case, the point here is mostly about effectiveness — why there’s no correlation between districts that needed help the most and districts that got the most help. Partisanship helps explain why it may have happened this way, and based on the past decade I can’t really argue that Republicans would have been more likely to distribute the money more rationally.

The bottom line is that politicians tend to spend money for political reasons, which is why we’re better off when they spend less money.

Peter

December 18th, 2009
11:52 am

Would you say Partisan politics have been in Vogue during the Bush years ….seems the money was spent on War, and the folks that have received the most were War time suppliers that would be deemed Republican.

I am hard pressed to think of the positives brought about during the Bush administration, for the poor in general.

Perhaps you may comment on that Kyle ? I guess I am getting to whomever is in power, tend to send the money that way ?

Al Bundy

December 18th, 2009
12:03 pm

Georgia just got $70M for unemployment benefits and Northeast GA will finally get high-speed internet service. The General Assembly wouldn’t have been able to balance its budget without the ARRA funds. All while this state’s republican leadership and congressional leaders pan the stimulus.

Also, did this study consider projects that were “shovel ready”? This could also skew the money to more urban areas with more infrastructure projects as well.

Ragnar Danneskjöld

December 18th, 2009
12:49 pm

Dear Kyle, if I may extend the argument of Mercatus with hypothesis: the sections of the country that voted democrat are generally those areas whose economic performance under-performed the nation’s mean. The cause and effect are identical, that leftist policies cause the chronic under-performance (which term is not co-terminus with “depth of recession” – the latter merely measures short-term decline.)

A postulate I draw from that hypothesis: the “stimulus,” by diverting funds to those areas that chronically under-perform, was inherently doomed to failure. A “stimulus” oriented to those areas that customarily perform better would have produced more and faster growth. Thus the general problem of leftism, it attempts to pick “winners” and “losers” based on criteria other than market performance.

Chris Broe

December 18th, 2009
1:04 pm

Stimulus was droppped from Proverbial helicopters. I think WKRP proved that turkeys dont fly. What part of “The first installment of the stimulus money went into buying votes for 2010″ dont YOU coddled neo-clods git?

In truth, I don’t know what’s happening to the economy any more than the uber-economists over on Wooten’s blog today. Nor would I presume to explain why we are being dragged along the bottom at this point in the cycle by name dropping famous economists using pedantisms like this, “Duhhh(sic), Keynes, uh duhhhh(sic), Friedman, duh….FISHER!…duhhh, uhh, is it miller time yet…..HICKS! (Hic)

But on a more personal note, I, for one, am sick and tired of the way Kyle Wingnut begins every blog with, “This one time, at Hitler Youth Camp, I was playing with my flute…..” I mean, WTF?

It’s not bad enough that his iconical Nordic photo is the poster child for stereotyped Aryan features, but we also gotta listen to neo-nazi lore too?

Jklol (actually today’s piece was excellent, timely, informative, campaign worthy and easy to read.)

Smashsmeesha Bobeesha

December 18th, 2009
1:26 pm

Peter, Democrat areas are usually areas where people live off the government and don’t work for a living.

Churchill's MOM

December 18th, 2009
1:56 pm

Rag Head.. are you trying to teach Geometry or Economics? Our congressmen voted against the stimulus so they think Georgia does not need one.Wingboy you should have mentioned that the bill is full of earmarks without Arthur, which is against the congressional rules. Bet Saxby did some out of state earmarks before voting for this waste. All our Congressmen need to swear off ALL EARMARKS not just our 7 real conservative Republicans.

It is wet & cold up here in Athens and you would not believe how full Publix was this morning. Everyone have a great week end, for those without little ones, you don’t know what you are missing.

Churchill's MOM

December 18th, 2009
1:58 pm

If Saxby showed up to vote, like all r’s he voted against it., my fingers were faster than my mind.

Smashsmeesha Bobeesha

December 18th, 2009
2:07 pm

Churchill’s MOM, you complain too much.

Andy

December 18th, 2009
2:10 pm

So how do you categorize the high speed fiber optic buildout near Dalton. Would you consider that a waste of money?

Hillbilly Deluxe

December 18th, 2009
2:20 pm

some high-income areas, e.g. Wall Street, have been hit hard by the recession and unemployment,

Good enough for them in my view.

Hillbilly Deluxe

December 18th, 2009
2:21 pm

Chris Broe @ 1:04

Wild turkeys can, indeed, fly. Don’t believe everything you see on TV. ;-)

DannyX

December 18th, 2009
2:21 pm

The Party that is in power over each jurisdiction always get the $$$, and the minority party will always complain about it.

The worst case is the State of Georgia, stealing a third of Metro Atlanta tax dollars to fund things in different areas of the state. The entitlement welfare mentality that redistributes metro Atlanta wealth is stifling the region.

Jess

December 18th, 2009
2:48 pm

Danny X,

Since you are of the opinion that Metro Atlanta should keep the revenue generated in Metro Atlanta, then it stands to reason that Buckhead should keep the revenue generated there, or North Fulton shoud keep the revenue generated there. Taxes are used to redistribute wealth, generally from the more afflunt to the less affluent.

DannyX

December 18th, 2009
3:06 pm

Jess, I agree with you to a certain extent, taxes should be used to redistribute some wealth. My whole point is that Republicans in this case do play both sides. In the case of North Fulton County the State legislature has rushed to the aid of North Fulton County since gaining control. Republicans at the same time have no problem maintaining an unbalanced system that harms metro Atlanta.

And yes the Democrats play the same games.

StJ

December 18th, 2009
3:23 pm

It is clear that the government collects and spends a lot of OUR money based on political criteria. You agree with the party in power, you get rewarded…just another way to buy votes.
Now just imagine if your health care decisions were based on the same political criteria. No need to buy votes or gerrymander the voting districts, just deny life-saving treatments to the opposition (especially where the vote is nearly evenly split) and permanently improve your chances of re-election.

Jess

December 18th, 2009
3:36 pm

Kyle,

I take exceptation to the word stimulus in your article. It is more of a partisian payback, or pork barrel scheme. I do not believe any stimulus is taking place. It would be interesting to track the recovery of the states who made out best, and see if their recovery is any quicker or more robust.

sam

December 18th, 2009
3:52 pm

kyle,

give me a break. people dont live on wall street. dont you TARP was enough for the thieves? not to mention there a ton more democratic districts right now than republican…you should really think this stuff over before putting out here…its bush league if you ask me.

Kyle Wingfield

December 18th, 2009
4:44 pm

(Sighing) Sam, I mentioned Wall Street as an example of a high-income area that has seen a lot of unemployment, by way of explaining why I didn’t think a particular per capita figure was relevant to our discussion. So thanks for ignoring the context.

What does the number of D versus R districts have to do with anything when we are talking about averages?

And come to think of it, in relation to your earlier comment about urban areas, what does population have to do with it? Congressional districts are supposed to be similar in size. And while we’re due for a reapportionment because of population growth and shifts, 37 of the 50 most populous districts are represented by Republicans, while 40 of the 50 least populous districts are represented by Democrats, according to this Web site: http://proximityone.com/cd.htm

So if it’s a population thing, it doesn’t seem to be the case that the more-populous districts got more money.

Peter

December 18th, 2009
6:31 pm

Smashsmeesha Bobeesha ….Says……Peter, Democrat areas are usually areas where people live off the government and don’t work for a living.

Wrong Period !

sam

December 18th, 2009
7:38 pm

glad i checked here to see your response. i’m talking city centers with large populations..you know the places with lots of schools, lots of construction going on, lots of crumbling infrastructure, or maybe just had a flood(see N’awlins)….or should they divy it up to alaska , idaho, or maybe south dakota districts since they are bigger (land mass) ….and check dollar amounts too, with 258 D’s in house averaging 439 million per district, plus 180 or so R’s getting 232 million per on average…i’m no mathmetician but that would have the stimulus in the 523 Billion dollar range not the 157 Billion this “study” proclaims…pa-the-tic.

sam

December 18th, 2009
7:41 pm

dammit, i think i added a zero….cancel that math :)

gcoolidge

December 19th, 2009
12:05 am

Well, I see lots of discussion regarding whether D districts really get more the R districts, and arguments regarding whether this would be good or bad.

But very little discussion regarding the conclusion that stimulus money didn’t help create jobs. Glad to see that such a conclusion seems so obviously true to all of us.

Hard Right Hook

December 19th, 2009
8:29 am

gcoolidge

December 19th, 2009
12:05 am
Well, I see lots of discussion regarding whether D districts really get more the R districts, and arguments regarding whether this would be good or bad.

But very little discussion regarding the conclusion that stimulus money didn’t help create jobs. Glad to see that such a conclusion seems so obviously true to all of us.

Absolutely! Bozo Joe says we saved a bunch of jobs. I don’t know a soul whose job was “saved.” And I know a bunch of people looking for work. The Prez is pretty naive the way he signed the Porkulus bill and sat back & waited several months for jobs to majically appear. That ain’t how it works.

Chris Broe

December 19th, 2009
12:31 pm

That’s the beauty of comedy. It doesn’t have to be true. It can be true, of course, and some of the funniest comics stick to the facts of life, but a reference to a comedy sitcom should stay true to the reference.

or not. who cares? and what have I said about using emoticons? I’m afraid of them, Okay? Especially the one which depicts the face of a guy nursing a gas bubble. Please refrain from using them. There are children who read these blogs, okay?

Honestly.

Looks like the democrats have won. Does anyone know if the damn thing is mandatory? I can’t afford any premiums. I deliver pizzas for a living. If it’s mandatory and against the law not to participate, then the cops may as well cuff me, tazer me, and cart me off to the hoosegow now. My pre-existing condition is convicted!

If they outlaw the uninsured, then only outlaws will be uninsured. How does that go? If they outlaw guns then only outlaws will have guns? Darn, I never can remember the bromides from the 60’s.

Well, gotta go. People want their $10.99 pizza with 6 (count ‘em) free toppings. Such a deal!

[...] to a new study by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, Democratic districts have raked in nearly twice as much porkulus money as GOP districts—without regard to the actual economic suffering and job loss in those districts. [...]