Monday, 9 February 2009

One Sentence From the Stimulus Package

“For transit capital assistance grants, $6,000,000,000 (increased by $1,500,000,000), of which $5,400,000,000 (increased by $1,350,000,000) shall be for grants under 5 section 5307 of title 49, United States Code and shall be apportioned in accordance with section 5336 of such title (other than subsections (i)(1) and (j)) but may not be combined or commingled with any other funds apportioned under such section 5336, and of which $600,000,000 (increased by $150,000,000) shall be for grants under section 5311 of such title and shall be apportioned in accordance with such section 5311 but may not be combined or commingled with any other funds apportioned under that section: Provided, That of the funds provided for section 5311 under this heading, 3 percent shall be made available for section 5311(c)(1): Provided further, That applicable chapter 53 requirements shall apply except that the Federal share of the costs for which a grant is made under this heading shall be, at the option of the recipient, up to 100 percent: Provided further, In lieu of the requirements of section 1103 of this Act, funds made available under this heading shall be apportioned not later than 7 days after the date of enactment of this Act: Provided further, That for purposes of applying section 1104 of this 25 253 Act to this appropriation, the deadline for grantees to enter into obligations to make use of not less than 50 percent of the funds awarded shall be 90 days after apportionment: Provided further, That the provisions of section 1101(b) of Public Law 109–59 shall apply to funds made available under this heading: Provided further, That not-withstanding any other provision of law, of the funds apportioned in accordance with section 5336, up to three-quarters of 1 percent shall be available for administrative expenses and program management oversight and of the funds apportioned in accordance with section 5311, up to one-half of 1 percent shall be available for administrative expenses and program management oversight and both amounts shall remain available for obligation until September 30, 2012: Provided further, That the preceding proviso shall apply in lieu of the provisions in section 1106 of this Act.”


So I spent a couple of minutes reading this twice over. I felt sad for the guy who wrote this...he must be some kind of professional law writer for the house or senate. Every English teacher I ever had....kinda laid down the law on sentence length. You could go three lines, and still be in good graces. But after three...you tended to get red marks on your paper. With this deal....she would have run out of red ink real quick if this was a eight sentence comment.

A Moment of FDR

There is an excellent article from the Washington Post today...."FDR was a Great Leader, But His Economic Plan Was Not One to Follow".

There are a dozen aspects of the FDR period which are pretty well laid out.....where our current administration is closely following the same steps.

The curious thing that is pointed....the amount of money proposed in this stimulus package is around 5.9 percent of the national product.....strangely enough.....its just about the same amount that FDR had put into his program.

I'm a numbers guy, and the odds of someone picking 5.9 percent.....is pretty remote, unless that was their game in the first place. It bothers me that such a fight was laid up on this bulk of a package....all drawn by Pelosi quietly behind the curtain. Then the President stands there and fights over every dollar....to ensure 5.9 percent remains....which it appears it does. Perhaps, in some vast economic formula...this is the exact amount that will trigger a small depression but not a extreme one.

The article goes on to readily describe America in the late 1930s....very much into a depression....of which the bulk of the money that FDR spent.....did nothing but continue the trend of the country. Depression was everlasting....in FDR's mind, and I'm curious if the President reckons this to be the case today.

I am very much into the history of the 1930s.....more internationally than American history...because this catastrophic event triggered fundamental views of politics across the entire globe. Every single radical group found a reason to grow in such an environment.

There is a small bit of American history to take home over this entire period. Most folks today believe that FDR was readily safe throughout his entire presidency and never really encountered a threat to his "reign". This is not true. In the mid-1930s....from Louisiana....came Huey Long. Huey was radical and as far to the extreme as one could go. Huey had visions of nationalizing a vast number of US resources.....to please the poor man of America. In 1936, Huey was building up a national audience. It was believed that by the election of 1940....Huey Long would be the man to take down FDR. A curious event occurred in Louisiana....a man shot and killed Huey. The "Kingfish", as he had been referred to....was taken down. Had this not occurred, then by 1939, Long would have likely be pushing forward and making FDR look like he couldn't save America.....thus inviting a far-extremist as the answer.

I pause here and gaze at America today. It would not take an awful lot of effort for the nation in 2012, to be so dismal about the depression it has sunk into.....that they could talk themselves into a radical moment......go to a far extreme.....for even a third-party candidate.

The article from the Post is an excellent article and worth the read. The key thing here.....our talk of a recession? Don't fool yourself.....its likely to be much more.

Big is Better, Wink, Wink

This was a bit of an unusual week, with the White House announcing the expansion of the National Security Council. They basically decided to throw the Energy Department, the Commerce Department, the Treasury, all the law enforcement agencies of the Federal government....and even the DEA folks, into the National Security Council.

The hint here....was that the National Security Council would begin to deal with 21st-century issues. The White House even went to the extent of pronouncing these.....cyber security, energy, climate change, nation-building and infrastructure.

I sat there for a while...the National Security Council was usually the guys you called into the room when a pretty serious threat existed to America and required immediate action. Nation-building? Infrastructure? Climate change or global warming? Computer viruses?

These are all cases which could take years. So are we saying that the NSC will be meeting daily....hour by hour....to monitor nation-building infrastructure, global warming, or computer viruses?

Using your imagination, you can start to conceive of the thousands of scenarios where a bunch of guys are sitting in the White House. Imagine them monitoring Hurricane Katrina...trying to tell FEMA to do this or do that....based on them watching CNN at the White House and trying to out react the media....rather than conduct a planned phase.

So we are starting to talk about full-time operations with the NSC...round-the-clock. In fact, we could have a hurricane in the keys, a earthquake in Alaska, a massive computer virus just recognized, global warming noted in Idaho, and then some Jihad dudes holding American hostages on a cruise liner in the Pacific. All going on at the same time.

At some point, you'd start to have the global warming guy telling the terrorist expert how to handle his affair...then the FBI guy telling the climate control guy that "its not that bad". Standing in the middle of this turf battle royal....would be the President...smiling and winking at everyone...and then running out to announce that Republicans are the cause of the mess and asking for more stimulus.

I suspect after two of these NSC emergency meetings...everyone will agree that this probably wasn't planned that well.

On the other, it would be nice that an emergency each and every week with the National Security Council continually meeting. We might actually forget about the recession and worry about other problems.