You can appreciate the dilemma of Obama's Kenyesians. How best do we waste $1 trillion in next year's "stimulus package?"
Do we dress it up in spiffy new language and spend it on creating grids for solar and wind power? Or do we just throw it at traditional infrastructure projects like roads and bridges?
The debate has centered on two competing principles in the evolving plan: the desire to spend money on what President-elect Barack Obama calls "shovel-ready projects," such as highway and bridge construction, vs. spending on more environmentally conscious projects, such as grids for wind and solar power.
Lawmakers opposed to the emerging-technology projects accuse their colleagues of using the financial crisis to push through pricey policy proposals that they say would do little to boost the economy in the immediate future.
If we're going to call it a stimulus package, it has to be stimulating and has to be stimulating now. I think there are members of our caucus who are trying to create a Christmas tree out of this," said Rep. Baron P. Hill (Ind.), incoming co-chairman of the Blue Dog Coalition, a caucus of 51 fiscally conservative House Democrats.
The largest beneficiary of the shovel-ready construction projects would be labor unions. There are fewer of the green-collar jobs, a key focus of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). These projects often have the long-term potential to revolutionize the economy but tend to lack the short-term bounce of old-fashioned infrastructure work. Not as many of them involve union labor.
In other words, which special interest gets the payoff? Unions? Or environmentalists?
My bet is on the unions. Any group that spends a half a billion dollars to get you elected deserves a little consideration, don't you think?