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Alice in Washington

Posted By Russ Roberts On December 22, 2008 @ 1:28 pm In Politics | Comments Disabled

The Washington Post is worried [1] about the stimulus plan that the Obama administration seems sure to pass:

Yet concern about transparency has given way to concern that the
economic crisis will be used as an excuse to throw sacks of cash at
projects instead of leading to the development of discrete proposals
that pack a lot of punch in the short term. That Mr. Obama is
reportedly prepared for his plan to rise from as little as $670 billion
to as much as $850 billion because of additions from Congress only
reinforces that fear.

An excuse to throw sacks of cash at projects. You think? Could it possibly happen? The Post continues:

"We’re not intending to spend money lightly," Mr. Obama said Friday
while refusing to put a firm price tag on his stimulus package, the
goal of which is to create or preserve at least 3 million jobs over the
next two years. That may be, but we’ve seen this before. In fact, it
was in late September, when the financial rescue plan, billed as
desperately needed for the economy’s survival, was larded up with
unrelated measures that couldn’t pass on their own. With every
constituency that has gone begging for federal money for years now
developing wish lists for Washington to consider, it could happen
again. It mustn’t. We agree with Alice

I interrupted that last line in mid-sentence. What should come next is the phrase "in Wonderland" and then something about meaning what you say is the same as saying what you mean [2]. Unfortunately, the actual next word in the phrase is "Rivlin" as in Alice Rivlin who was Clinton’s budget director. But I do love these two sentences very much:

With every
constituency that has gone begging for federal money for years now
developing wish lists for Washington to consider, it could happen
again. It mustn’t.

Alas, it must. Fish gotta swim. Birds gotta fly. People are going to try to get the money till the day they die. It’s the way of the world. To think otherwise is to live down the rabbit hole or through the looking glass.

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[1] The Washington Post is worried: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/12/21/AR2008122101445.html

[2] the same as saying what you mean: http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~rgs/alice-VII.html

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