There is some sound spending in the bill, just as there is some spending that will have an effect in the next six months.
But is overwhelmingly made up of pork, and pork that won’t be delivered until 2010 and 2011.
If the bill had serious relief for the housing sector, or a serious push on energy such as a broad and sustained drive for nuclear power, I could understand some Republicans holding their noses and voting for it.
But there is just not nearly enough to justify the massive expenditure that makes it porkapalooza.
What is astonishing is that President Obama is a smart guy and could easily demand a bill that at least works at some level to accomplish something lasting. He could order up a massive mass transit push, or a huge public housing push, or a vast network of public health clinics.
Instead he is settling for this goulash of warmed-over special interest goodies.
If the president actually sat down with Summers and Geithner and went through the bill section-by-section it is hard to imagine any of them saying “This makes sense,” or “That will work quickly to create jobs and growth.”
But they are being carried along by the long suppressed desires of their party in Congress to push through their pet projects.
Not a single Republican should vote for this bill. More than a few Democrats should also get up the courage to speak bluntly about the absurdity of this “stimulus.”
But more than anything else the president ought to call a time-out to reassess how the greatest legislative opportunity he is likely to be given. This bill is almost certainly the domestic initiative on which he will be judged for decades to come, and it has gone badly off the rails. Republicans have given him the opportunity to reassess its direction, but only he can actually turn it to some sort of effective and successful end.