Blackadder’s Lair

The home of many a cunning plan

Stimulus Trading

Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal came in for criticism here at Vox Nova a few weeks back when he announced that Louisiana would not be taking a portion of the federal stimulus funding earmarked for increased unemployment benefits (since this announcement, the governors of several other states have made similar statements). I don’t think the actions of the governors in this regard are particularly noble (you’ll note that they didn’t reject all stimulus funds, but only this one little bit). Nevertheless, I thought some of the criticism of Jindal on this score was misdirected. The money rejected by Jindal doesn’t just disappear. The money is still there, and can still be used to provide relief in other states. Louisiana’s unemployment rate is currently significantly below the national average, and if Louisiana’s rejection means that more funds are freed up for harder hit areas, that would seem to be all to the good.

Similarly, Mother Jones reported on Tuesday that cities in Los Angeles County were selling the stimulus funds earmarked for their cities, in some cases at a significant discount. It seems that, out of some misguided sense of fairness, the government had allocated some funds to every city in the area, regardless of whether a particularly municipality would even be able to use the funds. After the story broke, the Los Angeles County MTA canceled the swaps.

In both cases, what we have is the belief that stimulus funding is best allocated based on political clout and/or the whims of a central authority, rather than having local self-evaluations of need play a role.

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March 13, 2009 - Posted by | Government, Stimulus

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