It Didn’t Work the First Time, So Now: Porkulus II

At The American, the Journal of the American Enterprise Institute, Phil Levy writes:

slow_d16As unemployment rises ominously toward 10 percent and the economy continues to appear listless, leading economic voices have begun to call for a second fiscal stimulus. The first stimulus was controversial among economists; it seemed to discard a great deal of what had been learned about macroeconomics in recent decades. The calls for a second stimulus seem to discard logic altogether.

Keep in mind that the first time around, we were told that the porkulus bill had to be passed now now now now now — not a day to spare if we want to ward off catastrophe.  So Congress passed a pork-laden bill that included hundreds of billions of dollars that will not be spent until 2011 or later, and thus have no stimulative effect now.  And after  the bill was rushed through so quickly that there was no time for legislators to even read it, let alone have a thorough debate — the President waited four days to sign it.

Levy’s conclusion:

And this is exactly the logical problem with a second stimulus. If we accept the premise that the Democrats did the best that could be done and exhausted all stimulative spending possibilities for 2009 and 2010 on their first try, then there’s nothing left to be done in a second stimulus. Additional spending would just pour uselessly into the out-years. If there are still good near-term options available to be funded by a second stimulus, that just speaks to the poor design of the initial stimulus package that passed them over in favor of ineffectual spending years later.

Neither of those possibilities argues for opening up the public coffers for hundreds of billions of dollars more.