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A Stimulus is a Terrible Thing to Waste

Academics discover that the stimulus bill didn't stimulate the economy, but the politicians want to try again.

12:00 AM, Sep 9, 2010 • By GARY ANDRES
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The paper finds support for both theories, but more for the “policy windows” argument. “We find some support for both theories,” Gimpel and his co-authors write, “but policy window effects were more important than 'pork barrel politics' in explaining why funds were mismatched to need.”

Could this happen again when it comes to the new $50 billion stimulus bill?  You bet. Especially because the policy window appears open again as Democrats face a mounting economic and political turmoil and may need to move some legislative vehicle.

Using the ARRA as a template, Democrats in Congress might use their institutional positions to direct pork barrel spending—and the stubborn economy as a “policy window"—but will once again probably miss the mark of growing the economy and creating jobs.  As the political scientists conclude, “Rather than a uniquely egregious exercise in pork barreling, the ARRA brightly illuminates the politics of making the most of a crisis.”  After all, from the Democrats’ perspective, more stimulus is a terrible thing to waste.

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