Friday, April 24, 2009

The Review of Congressional Economics 

Here's a case where I'm perhaps less outraged by the price tag than what they're trying to buy:
The Senate has agreed to spend $5 million to investigate the cause of the economic crisis as it moves toward passing a $245 million bill that would substantially increase the number of FBI agents and prosecutors working mortgage fraud.

The legislation is aimed at showing voters that lawmakers are serious about getting to the bottom of the nation's financial woes, even as they struggle to agree on how to improve the economy and prevent it from getting worse.

"We must hold those responsible for this calamity to account," said Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D.

You're going to investigate yourselves? And you need $5 million to do that?

OK, that might be too flip a response. But if you look beyond Congress you will never stop looking, or you will have a fight between potential sources of instability that ends up pinning blame on the basis of political connections (or lack thereof.) You cannot pinpoint one or two items and say "if not for that..." There are already books with competing claims. One thing a Congressional committee is not, is an editorial board, or a set of scientific referees.

I expect they'll do it anyway, though, and we should be grateful it only costs $5 million.