President Obama touted the “stimulus” package passed earlier this year as absolutely necessary to get the economy going again. Well, maybe, but there may have been another agenda at work as well (via the WaPO):
When President Obama won approval for his $787 billion stimulus package in February, large sections of the 407-page bill focused on a push for new technology that would not stimulate the economy for years.
The inclusion of as much as $36.5 billion in spending to create a nationwide network of electronic health records fulfilled one of Obama’s key campaign promises — to launch the reform of America’s costly health-care system.
But it was more than a political victory for the new administration. It also represented a triumph for an influential trade group whose members now stand to gain billions in taxpayer dollars.
A Washington Post review found that the trade group, the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, had worked closely with technology vendors, researchers and other allies in a sophisticated, decade-long campaign to shape public opinion and win over Washington’s political machinery.
With financial backing from the industry, they started advocacy groups, generated research to show the potential for massive savings and met routinely with lawmakers and other government officials. Their proposals made little headway in Congress, in part because of the complexity of the issues and questions about whether the technology and federal subsidies would work as billed.
As the downturn worsened last year, advocates helped persuade Obama’s advisers to dust off electronic records legislation that had stalled in Congress — legislation that the advocates had a hand in writing, the Post review found.
Their sudden success shows how the economic crisis created a remarkable opening for a political and financial windfall: the enactment of a sweeping new policy with no bureaucratic delays and virtually no public debate about an initiative aimed at transforming a sector that accounts for more than a sixth of the American economy.
Lobbyists are taking maximum advantage of the economic “crisis” to get handouts for their clients that they couldn’t get in the past. Is this stimulus? It has been said that stimulus should be targeted, timely and temporary. This is targeted – at the companies with the ear of Congress. It’s sort of timely, in that the money will get spent relatively soon, but the benefits are far in the future. Temporary? That depends on your definition. Once this money is spent, the lobbyists will be back for more. The chances of this project getting done on time and on budget are nil. How long until we are reading about the problems in getting this off the ground?
One thing is for sure. The stocks of the companies that will benefit have been stimulated: