For the entire month of February we've been battering around this stimulus bill and, with a tab like $787 billion, there really can't possibly be enough coverage for that astronomical figure. With the stroke of his pen on the 17th and a stirring speech on the 24th, the D.C. dust has now settled, political capital has been spent, deals have been made, alliances forged and enemies solidified.
The work on the Hill has finished...and now we're stimulated.
Too bad we're still very much at the beginning. The suits in the District may have finished their work, but the suits in New York and across the U.S. are just beginning to roll up their sleeves.
Pundits and commentators have warned that the success of this bill will dictate the fate of this Congress and of Obama's tenure in office -- but I must respectfully beg to differ. This stimulus bill is really only as good as the private sector will make it.
The private sector is what will create the jobs the country needs to thrive, discover the new technologies we need to advance, and build the roads we need to pull it all together. With this legislation, the government has just filled the gap in funding and provided the bankroll.
When all is said and done, the government and the Obama administration have essentially become venture capitalists in a groundbreaking new enterprise with this bill -- and that enterprise can aptly be called "The New American Green Economy." As is the case with most venture investments of this kind, the enterprise has clearly demonstrated that there is a demand for their services -- and is there ever. "The New American Green Economy" is intended to be the U.S.'s one-stop-shop, providing employment, infrastructure, housing -- well -- everything -- and there's really no end to the number of its possible consumers.
Further, this new enterprise's green focus marks a safe investment into a sustainable solution. With $37.5 billion dollars tagged for energy initiatives, the enterprise has it's priorities in the right place. Billions of dollars will be poured into solar, renewable, and wind energy, weatherization, and conservation. More important than that, billions of dollars were also poured out of damaging nuclear plans.
Sadly, they don't add "venture" to the phrase for nothing. Like all venture capitalists the government is wading into unchartered territory -- and without a road map, there is much greater uncertainty and risk. Never before has an undertaking of this kind been attempted or an investment this large been made to this enterprise. Should this economic slowdown stretch to a 5 year recession rather than a 3 year one, there's no guarantee that the $700 billion dollar investment will put us in a better state. In truth, like all capital for endeavors such as this, the fate of the investment is in the hands of the managers of the new money -- which brings us to the private sector and the government agencies that will disperse it.
This is where I worry and this is where I think the pundits and the commentators should be looking. The Department of Energy and the EPA have never been very effective in quickly, effectively or efficiency spending money. Their history of sub-par money management has led us to America's very precarious environmental situation and these historical fiscal skills should and will make several people uneasy. Secretary Steven Chu, I really hope you're listening. On the other side, I'm not the most confident about the private sector either. Considering their broad mismanagement of assets in the market today, from Wall Street to San Francisco, it's rather a stretch to assume that they've fully learned the lessons of their failures.
The dust has truly settled in D.C. and it's thankfully a bright new green day -- I just hope New York kicks the dust in the right direction.