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.

Links of the Day, October 29

Turns out, I just needed a couple days to get back in the driver’s seat. 🙂





Say, "Ahh …"

Today, two weeks after I had my jaw broken, I had my first post-op visit with the surgeon, and finally had the rubber bands—that have been my bane over the last fortnight—removed. I can open my mouth again, I can eat (soft foods), I can brush my teeth properly; it’s the little things that I’m able to appreciate again. ☺ I lost 7 pounds over the last couple weeks and I’m looking forward to putting it back on! It’ll take a little while since I’ll be on the soft food diet for a good 6-8 weeks, during which time my jaw (which was fractured on both sides, aligned by the surgeon going inside my mouth, and then reconnected by a screw on each side, and the punctures sewn shut on the outside) will continue to heal, and my jaw muscles (which have been inactive over the last couple weeks) will get used to working again. Right now, I can open my mouth, but nowhere near normal capacity. That’ll take awhile … … which also means that my singing abilities are limited for a little while. But I’m hoping to be back and ready to go by the end of May, when I’ll hopefully play one more time at Fuller before I graduate. In other news:

  • I’m loving my classes so far, and I’ve been to three out of my four: I’m particularly looking forward to reading a bunch for my Theology & Politics in Modern Society seminar (even though it’s all guys—first all-male class in my time at Fuller). And I’m also enjoying starting out with the All-Seminary Council (so far!). ☺ It’s gonna be busy. But it’s gonna be good. I can feel it.
  • It looks like the G20 summit was actually fairly successful, at least in the sense that something was agreed upon. And what’s more promising is that it includes substantial provisions for combating poverty. Hopefully, something concrete will come out of these proposals.
  • Thinking about the economic crisis: the markets have been improving somewhat in the last few days, and some economists think that we’re past the worst of the recession, which would be great, right? Now this is just amateur economic theorizing, but if the economy is going well, isn’t there less incentive to change things such as health care and the auto industry and financing regulations and market practices? Of course, if the economy is going badly, this is not good coz people are suffering, losing jobs, losing houses, etc. But I wonder if the momentum for change comes most when people are unhappy with the current situation?
  • If and when we get through this economic downturn, will we still recognize the need for health care reform, for cutting back on greenhouse gases, for making our cars and transportation greener, for investing in clean, green energy sources, for making sure that free market capitalism isn’t allowed to run amok and the few aren’t allowed to prosper at the expense of the rest? I hope so.
  • In South Africa, Archbishop Desmond Tutu is accused of “sacrilege” for criticizing the African National Congress, whose leader Jacob Zuma has been embroiled in corruption and an arms scandal. I’m with Bishop T on this one: if he’s innocent, well and good; if not … should he really be running the country?
  • And back in the US, the House approved legislation that will, for the first time, give the government the powers to regulate tobacco products (in the same way that they regulate food items).
  • Finally … Opening Day is Monday!! Baseball season is back!