Stimulus Bill As Policy Engine

I'll give the Democrats some credit for the way they have devised this stimulus bill, because along with extra spending that they want, they are using the bill to push a series of policy initiatives as well.

For example, the bill is stuffed with money to promote various programs on energy efficiency, which President Obama bragged about on Monday at the White House.

"It will be the policy of my administration to reverse our dependence on foreign oil, while creating a new energy economy that will create millions of jobs," he said in the East Room.

Obama called the stimulus bill the "down payment" on his efforts on energy, saying it will put  460,000 Americans to work.

"It will lay down three thousand miles of transmission lines to deliver this energy," Obama said, referring to the $4.5 billion in the stimulus bill for modernizing the nation's electricity grid.

"It will save taxpayers $2 billion a year by making 75% of federal buildings more efficient," the President continued, referring to at least $6 billion in energy efficient projects for Uncle Sam's vast array of workplaces.

"And it will save working families hundreds of dollars on their energy bills by weatherizing two million homes," added the President.

That comes from $6.2 billion in the bill for the Weatherization Assistance Program.

That's a pretty hefty increase, considering the Bush Adminstration asked Congress for $227 million for that program last year.

"This is the boost that our economy needs and our new beginning that our future demands," said Mr. Obama.

Other energy items in the bill include $1 billion in grants to "institutional entities for energy sustainability and efficiency."

There is $2.5 billion for energy efficiency upgrades in public housing.  There are $3.5 billion in Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants, to send money to the states for programs that help reduce energy use.

And there is $4.5 billion to make military facilities more energy efficient.

The word "energy" is found 221 times in the stimulus bill, and there are not only spending programs, but also a series of tax provisions in the energy arena.

There are renewable energy incentives, energy conservation incentives and credits for energy research.

I'm still trying to get through the tax portion of the bill.  There looks like some good stuff in there as well.

So, you get the idea.  This stimulus bill is in part, a "green" energy bill.  And that dovetails with the message that Democrats and President Obama want to get out in this debate.

Like I said at the outset, you have to hand it to the Democrats.  They have jammed all kinds of stuff into this bill that otherwise might take months and months to hash out, if the did an energy bill, an education bill, the budget, etc.

The House votes on the stimulus plan on Wednesday.