The stimulus is an even bigger crap sandwich than you thought

Add the roughly $20 billion for business tax cuts, and by our estimate only $90 billion out of $825 billion, or about 12 cents of every $1, is for something that can plausibly be considered a growth stimulus. And even many of these projects aren’t likely to help the economy immediately. As Peter Orszag, the President’s new budget director, told Congress a year ago, “even those [public works] that are ‘on the shelf’ generally cannot be undertaken quickly enough to provide timely stimulus to the economy.”…

The larger fiscal issue here is whether this spending bonanza will become part of the annual “budget baseline” that Congress uses as the new floor when calculating how much to increase spending the following year, and into the future. Democrats insist that it will not. But it’s hard — no, impossible — to believe that Congress will cut spending next year on any of these programs from their new, higher levels. The likelihood is that this allegedly emergency spending will become a permanent addition to federal outlays — increasing pressure for tax increases in the bargain. Any Blue Dog Democrat who votes for this ought to turn in his “deficit hawk” credentials.