Stimulus: Infrastructure, Agreed, but Otherwise…

From The Associated Press account of the confirmation hearing of Rep. Ray LaHood (R-IL) to be Secretary of Transportation, “LaHood: Spending stimulus wisely a top priority“:

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Former congressman Ray LaHood said Wednesday one of his priorities as transportation secretary will be to make sure the money Congress sets aside for construction projects to stimulate the economy is wisely spent.

One of two Republicans President Barack Obama picked to serve in his Cabinet, LaHood also signaled the new administration sees transportation as key to its environmental agenda, telling a Senate panel that all areas of transportation from roads to rails must be “sustainable” to “acknowledge the new reality of climate change.”

“One of my first tasks if confirmed will be to manage the open and effective use of those funds,” LaHood told the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.

NPR this morning interviewed House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH), and Steve Inskeep steered the conversation to provisions in the House Democratic Leadership’s bill on global warming.

The Ohio lawmaker has criticized parts of the Democrats’ proposed stimulus plan, including a provision that would direct $400 million to NASA to study global warming.

“Remember, the goal of the stimulus package is to preserve jobs and help create new jobs in America,” Boehner said. “And I don’t know how giving NASA $400 million to study global warming is going to meet the goals.”

It would stimulate a lot of computer modeling, but otherwise? The relevant language in the House bill is on page 60. From the Committee Report, page 22:

Recovery funding: $400 million
Investments in the areas of Earth science, planetary science, heliophysics and astrophysics seek to answer fundamental questions concerning the ways the Earth’s climate is changing; the comparison of the Earth with other planets in the solar system and around other stars; and the connections among the Sun, Earth and heliosphere. These investments are critically important to understanding climate change and mitigation.

Within the funds provided, not less than $250 million will be used to accelerate the development of the Tier 1 set of Earth science/climate research missions recommended by the National Academies decadal survey as being critically important for answering key Earth science/climate research questions. Funds are also provided to restore the Total Solar Irradiance Sensor to an NPOESS satellite, which measures solar radiation and is critical to understanding climate change; and to add a thermal infrared sensor to the Landsat Continuing Mapper necessary for water management (e.g., soil moisture and water use) particularly in the western states. It is estimated by NASA that these investments will support in excess of 2,600 jobs. 

What does “support jobs” mean?

Anyway, sounds like important work. But stimulus?

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