Alex Massie

Blogging the Stimulus

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Steve Coll, late of the Washington Post and now ensconsed at the New Yorker and the New America Foundation, is a brave, brave man. He's actually going to read the stimulus bill Barack Obama signed into law. All 407 pages of it. And then he's going to blog about it. I suppose someone in "traditional" media might have read the whole thing and written an account of the actual bill, but this seems another area in which the format and style and rythmn of blogging is better suited to the task of revealing what's actually in the legislation than anything likely to be provided by more traditional publishing platforms. Coll's first post also suggests he approaches his task armed with the necessary wry (and, perhaps, rye) spirit to endure this marathon:

I will limit this first entry to the law’s title, the table of contents, and the three sections of preamble. And already there is so much of interest! The bill is divided into two legally distinct divisions. Division A is organized around appropriations, and it involves all of the money that has been poured into the existing federal bureaucracy in order to stimulate new economic activity (a lot of physical construction, but also weatherizing and science investments, extensions of existing school-lunch programs, etc.). Division B covers tax relief, unemployment relief, health-care provisions, state relief, and miscellany such as investments in broadband technology and caps on executive pay at bailed-out banks. I peaked ahead to Division A, which begins, in alphabetical order, at the Department of Agriculture, and I can see this is going to be entertaining, although it is also clear that at some point I am going to require expert advice to figure out exactly what existing programs the bill is describing...

To be continued, as they used to say...

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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