A lot of that “stimulus” money was misallocated, if the goal was really to improve the economy. For example, the bill contained some $2 billion for Head Start as part of the $48 billion it spent on education.
Now, we can argue about whether Head Start pays off in the long-run. “[A] large-scale study seems to confirm what critics have suspected for years, that the program’s benefits are minimal and don’t last,” NPR reported in 2005.
But even if Head Start helps, it would be decades before the economy gets any boost from that $2 trillion. Meanwhile, the “stimulus” bill also contained $1 billion for “census programs,” so it may well have paid for the stimulating poverty numbers that stimulated the writing of this column.
Correlation isn’t causation, of course. But keep this in mind the next time someone bemoans that the government ought to “do something” to help boost the economy. The fact is that the federal government is doing (or at least spending) almost twice as much as it spent ten years ago, and yet its own stats (whether we believe them, the government probably assumes they’re accurate) say things are getting worse.
It’s time to reduce the size and scope of government by slashing spending. Things were apparently pretty good in 2002, so why not use that as a benchmark and aim for $2 trillion per year in total federal spending?
This level of spending would force our government to do less. Washington would have to live within its means, and start paying back some of the $15 trillion in debt it’s piled up. A smaller government could also unleash the private sector, the real job creator in this country. There would be more money available for the private sector to borrow, and as it expands it could create jobs and lift Americans out of poverty.
Excessive federal spending isn’t preventing poverty. If anything, it seems to be exacerbating it. Let’s change course, before things get worse.