The Washington Times has recently published several articles noting* a partial Congressional Budget Office analysis of the stimulus bill to support claims that most of the money in the bill would not be spent quickly. But in an article reporting former comptroller general David Walker discussing CBO's analysis of infrastructure spending and a separate article reporting that "[c]ritics say Obama's economic bill lacks stimulus," the Times ignored the conclusion of a more recent CBO analysis of the entire bill that 64 percent of the combined cost of the spending increases and tax cuts in the bill would occur by September 30, 2010.
In recent days, The Washington Times has published several articles noting* a partial Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis of the economic stimulus bill to support claims that most of the money in the bill would not be spent quickly. However, in a January 27 article, Times reporter David M. Dickson reported, “Referring to a recent report by the Congressional Budget Office, [former comptroller general] Mr. [David M.] Walker expressed concern that most of the money for infrastructure projects funded by the stimulus bill will not be spent until after 2010.” But the article ignored the conclusion of a January 26 CBO report analyzing the entire bill that 64 percent of the combined cost of the spending increases and tax cuts in the bill would occur by September 30, 2010.
A separate January 27 article by reporter S.A. Miller, headlined “Critics say Obama's economic bill lacks stimulus,” quoted critics of the package but did not note that the CBO's January 26 cost estimate concluded that of the bill's total cost of $815,861,000 in spending increases and tax cuts, $525,550,000 (roughly 64 percent) would be spent by the end of the 2010 fiscal year.
By contrast, The Washington Post reported in a January 27 article: “In an eagerly awaited analysis of the stimulus package, which is set for a vote in the House tomorrow, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office concluded that the measure would cost the federal government about $816 billion over the next 10 years and that approximately $526 billion, or about 65 percent, would be spent by the end of September 2010.”
The Times previously cited the partial CBO analysis in several articles, in one instance* falsely suggesting that CBO reviewed the entire bill:
- In a January 23 article, David M. Dickson reported that “a recent Congressional Budget Office analysis show[ed] that most of the infrastructure spending in the stimulus bill will not take place until after 2010” but did not note that the CBO had not analyzed the entire bill.
- In a January 22 article, Sean Lengell uncritically reported that Republicans were “pointing to an analysis of the spending plan by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office predicting that more than 90 percent of the money would be spent after fiscal 2009, which ends Sept. 30.”
- In a January 20 article, chief political correspondent Donald Lambro stated: “About $26 billion, just 9 percent, of Mr. Obama's massive spending plan to create jobs by rebuilding the nation's roads, bridges, school buildings and other crumbling infrastructure will be spent by Sept. 30, the end of fiscal 2009, according to the Congressional Budget Office, a nonpartisan agency that analyzes tax and spending proposals for Congress.”
Additionally, Lambro wrote in a January 26 column that “according to the nonpartisan CBO, which crunches budget numbers for Congress, only a small fraction of the proposed $274 billion in infrastructure spending to jump-start the economy will be spent by the end of this fiscal year and the rest won't be disbursed until 2010 or later.” Lambro did not note that the first CBO analysis considered only part of the bill.
From Dickson's January 27 Washington Times article:
Referring to a recent report by the Congressional Budget Office, Mr. Walker expressed concern that most of the money for infrastructure projects funded by the stimulus bill will not be spent until after 2010.
He was also concerned about wasteful spending.
“You want to make sure when you start shoveling, it doesn't smell,” he said.
From Miller's January 27 Washington Times article:
From $400 million for NASA climate-change research to $650 million for digital TV converter-box coupons, the unprecedented spending in President Obama's economic stimulus plan is provoking questions about whether it can create jobs and jolt the country out of recession.
The $825 billion bill, which is headed for likely House passage Wednesday, is being scrutinized increasingly by Republicans and economists because it doles out billions of taxpayer dollars for everything from the 2010 census to university research to contraceptives at family-planning clinics - areas far removed from the meltdown in finance, housing and automotive industries.
“This bill is not all stimulus,” said David M. Walker, the former head of the Government Accountability Office and president of the fiscal issues advocacy group Peter G. Peterson Foundation.
He said the potential stimulus effects from the bill are diluted by spending on government facilities and public-assistance programs. “We ought to have open and honest discussion and debate about the merits of each,” he said.
The rescue package, dubbed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, pours $41 billion into local school districts, $1.1 billion into Amtrak, $600 million into buying energy-efficient cars for the federal government, $275 million into fixing State Department computers, $200 million into sprucing up the National Mall, including new sod, and $50 million into the National Endowment for the Arts.
“It's ridiculous. It won't work. It won't stimulate,” said John Seater, an economics professor at North Carolina State University. “Any kind of spending will stimulate the sector of the economy where the money is spent, but I don't know that these industries are depressed. ... You can't just move somebody over from housing construction to climate research.”
Mr. Seater and other conservative economists suggest reducing the marginal tax rate to create incentives for business growth.
“It's not like this is the 1930s and this is the first time we've done this,” Mr. Seater said. “We've been doing this for 70 years, and we've learned a few things. But you wouldn't know it from what is going on in Washington.”
This item previously stated that several Washington Times articles misrepresented a partial CBO analysis of the economic stimulus bill by suggesting that the CBO had reviewed the entire bill in making its analysis. In fact, only one of the articles cited in the item -- a January 22 article by Sean Lengell -- contained that false suggestion. Media Matters regrets the error.