The stimulus, health care and progress

According to the latest CNN poll, nearly three out of four Americans think that at least half the money spent in the $787 billion federal stimulus package was wasted. Now according to and ProPublica, it’s actually more like $792 billion plus change. The stimulus spending in progress is reported in full on those two sites, but here’s the main breakdown:

Spending totaling $580 billion, of which:

  • $172 billion has already been paid out.
  • $157 billion is in the process of being paid out.
  • $251 billion has yet to be paid out.

Tax cuts totaling $212 billion, of which:

  • $93 billion has already been issued.
  • $119 billion has yet to be issued.

So actually, less than half of the stimulus package has even been paid out, let alone wasted, unless you want to call sitting around waiting to be paid out “waste,” which is a little presumptuous. I think those who actually want to know where all the money is going can find out pretty easily with a spot of research.

A large part of the problem seems to be that, as Joe Klein writes (albeit a little more inflammatorily), people don’t really know where the money’s going; and for this the Administration deserves some blame for not being clearer and actually being rather rubbish at publicizing this (beyond those signs you see here and there letting you know where your stimulus money is at work). And the second part is that the stimulus package is being spent veeeeeeeeeery sloooooooooowly. Of course, this may be due to a lack of projects in which to invest, but still …

Which leads me to (a) this very helpful (albeit slightly sarcastic) 16-step guide to help people–specifically, those who oppose health-care reform and the stimulus and tax cuts and … well, most everything on the President’s agenda–understand why they should actually support health-care reform and the stimulus and tax cuts and … well, most everything on the President’s agenda; (b) this very helpful (and less sarcastic) graphic from National Geographic, which I posted yesterday illustrating how freaking much Americans spend on health care–you knew that we weren’t the best at everything in the whole wide world already, right?

I’ve been somewhat frustrated by the lack of progress in the last year. There’ve been little victories–SCHIP, equal pay for women, a moratorium on torture, an openness and humility in our foreign policy, to name but a few–but on bigger things such as health care, immigration, climate change, we’ve yet to see significant progress in reforming broken systems, revising unjust legislation and making wise decisions for long term stability and economic security.

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