Pork or Stimulus?
Tuesday, March 07, 2006 :::
The public release of the Thomas Jefferson Institute's analysis of the competing transportation plans has gotten me thinking. Michael Thompson, the Institute's president, is quoted saying he was surprised by the findings, and that, at a press conference he:
...was adamant that the think tank wasn't taking sides -- just crunching numbers. All three can find something in the document to hang their hats on.
"All three of these plans are better than if you did nothing," he said.
The findings show that each plan increases income, creates jobs, etc., etc. This is not entirely surprising, from a Keynesian standpoint, as the government will be pumping money into infrastructure and that almost always has a multiplier effect on the larger economy. Though it is interesting that the Institute discovers that the Governor's plan and the Senate plan would create more public sector jobs than the House plan. That's odd.
They provide an extensive, sigma-filled, mathematical model for their conclusions here.
I no longer have the command of economic jargon to determine the fitness of this model, or its predictive powers. I do recall, though, that modeling real world responses based on hypothetical inputs is a less than accurate exercise. Nevertheless, I leave it to others who remain currert in the field to judge this particular analysis.
Of course, one of the problems such modeling can create is exactly that which has occured: every side can claim their's is the best solution. Over at BR, Jim Bowden has this look at the numbers and the model. He is less than impressed by either. Meanwhile, Jim Bacon wonders if the Senate's plan isn't just a gussied-up pork bill.
Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. But what Mr. Thompson has done is handed all sides plenty of wonkish ammunition to argue the benefits of their proposals.
::: posted by Norman Leahy at 3/07/2006