An actual CBO report on stimulus

AN ACTUAL CBO REPORT ON STIMULUS…. The report from the Congressional Budget Office, purportedly showing that the Democrats’ stimulus proposal would be ineffective, did not actually exist. A more reliable document really was released by the CBO late yesterday, however, and the results are far more encouraging. Indeed, the CBO found that implementing the stimulus plan “would have a noticeable impact on economic growth and employment in the next few years.”

Kevin Drum took a closer look at the numbers and came away with a positive impression.

Specifically, they estimate that in the spending portion of the bill, $477 billion out of $604 billion would be disbursed either this fiscal year or in the next two fiscal years. That’s 79% of the total.

I guess opinions can vary on this, but that strikes me as pretty good. What’s more, most of the spending that comes in FY2012 or later is either for projects that simply take more than two years to complete (highways, school repairs) or infrastructure improvements that have long-term paybacks (renewable energy programs). There are a few other items in the out years that are more arguable, but they add up to a pretty small portion of the bill.

Overall, then, it looks like the spending part of the bill is maybe 90% clean as short-term stimulus. And on the supply side, nearly 100% of the tax cuts are allocated during the next 18 months. Given the realities of the appropriations process, I’m not sure the White House could have done much better than this.

While Kevin’s analysis rings true, the number we’re likely to hear most is “two-thirds” — as in, “Approximately two-thirds of the spending and tax cuts contained in an economic stimulus package crafted by House Democrats would flow into the economy by the end of fiscal 2010.”

As for the “slowest” parts of the package, the CBO analysis notes a variety of factors, including “seasonal” concerns — school renovations are better over the summer, and highway construction in the north over the winter is inherently tricky.

What’s more, I’m also reminded of something Paul Krugman noted over the weekend: those portions of the stimulus plan that’ll kick in later might help, too, since the economy will need ongoing boosts. “[W]e’re looking at a situation where even if some of the projects are continuing to add spending two years out, two-and-a half, even three years out, that’s not such a bad thing,” Krugman explained.

The original CBO “report” got all kinds of attention, not just from Republican officials and conservative activists: “ThinkProgress has found that since the AP’s report last Tuesday, the CBO report has been cited at least 81 times on Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, the Sunday shows and the network newscasts in order raise questions about Obama’s recovery plan.”

Will the actual report get this kind of attention?