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Biden Report Suggests Slow Stimulation

Vice President Joe Biden today issued his first quarterly report to the president on the implementation of the stimulus bill, and it says that $28.5 billion is out the door. Not counting an introductory letter and glowing news clips (“reports from the field”) that appear to have been picked via the Web or Nexis, the report is all of 10 pages, or one page per $2.85 billion that the government has put in the hands of American people. (The New York Timesputs the amount of stimulus money dispensed at $45.6 billion, apparently by counting tax credits.) 

Most of the money has gone to Medicaid, unemployment benefits, food stamps and one-time $250 checks for people who receive Social Security. According to the VP’s report, more than $15.9 billion of the money spent thus far has gone toward Medicaid. Coincidentally, that means relatively little has gone to anything else. Take a look at Page 5 of the report. That absence of little red bars next to most agency names means they haven’t spent any money yet.

With only four and a half months to go in the fiscal year, the feds will have to get another $91.5 billion into the economy to reach the first-year estimate (PDF) made by the Congressional Budget Office.  

As the Times notes, while speed is of the essence, infrastructure projects have been slow to go from shovel-ready to shovels-moving. The article reports that the Department of Transportation had spent a mere $11 million on highway projects through the first week of May. Projects are, though, expected to accelerate over the course of the year.

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