Extension of Home-Buyer Credit, Proposed by Dems, Gets Slammed in Times and Post
Today's roundup of stimulus coverage:
We start today with a call-out. The Obama administration announced its list of projects that will get funding under the $3.4 billion stimulus fund for smart-grid investments. The New York Times' Kate Galbraith reports that 100 projects got awards, ranging in size from $400,000 to $200 million. Where's the money going? You can search the list by category (PDF) or by state (PDF). And if you see any projects that merit investigation, shoot us an e-mail.
Pieces in two newspapers weigh in with some stimulus policy prescriptions. The lead editorial in the Times calls for more stimulus, arguing that the economy's persistent weakness, rather than proof that the stimulus has failed, underlines the need for more of it. But the Times adds that additional stimulus money needs to be better targeted, calling measures like the first-time home-buyers credit a "waste."
Economists Simon Johnson and James Kwak, writing in The Washington Post, agree, arguing that extending the home-buyers credit, as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has proposed, is a bad idea. They cite estimates suggesting that each home sale that can be traced to the credit costs taxpayers between $43,000 and $80,000.
Meanwhile, at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Douglas Rice and Robert Greenstein add their voices to the chorus against the extension, saying it would have a "very low 'bang for the buck' in stimulating more home sales and helping the economy." (We haven't seen any articles today arguing in favor of extending the credit, but we'll let you know if we do.)
The Wall Street Journal's Sudeep Reddy examines why it's so hard to measure the impact of the stimulus. The list of challenges may be familiar to ProPublica readers: comparing economic performance under the stimulus against what might have been; gauging whether consumer-incentive programs like Cash for Clunkers generate new consumption or simply speed up consumption that would have happened anyway; measuring just how many jobs have been created or saved. The article provides a great overview, though, and comes with some snappy graphics. (Online readers will need a subscription to read it.)
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Officials have struggled to spend the nearly $800 billion stimulus package quickly and effectively.