Penis Joke #1: Cram? Stimulus? Package? You know what I'm talking about, right ladies? You don't? Gents?
The first thing I should probably do is point out a common misunderstanding that people who don't read economics blogs all day have: The stimulus is completely different from the bailout. The bank bailouts were meant to pour money into banks that lost everything they had in some sort of madcap Three Stooges style mishap. A bailout of the banks has happened already - in fact, it went so swimmingly well that there'll probably be another one in the not too distant future. Contrast this with an economic stimulus package, which is the government effectively getting out their checkbook and buying shit for everybody (Xboxes if we're lucky). Critically, the stimulus package hasn't happened yet, as you can probably tell by your lack of Xboxes.
Another way to tell the difference between the two is that everyone hates the bailout, because it involves giving money to those Wall Street banker types - a job description that is now customarily said with the same intonation as multiple rapist.As I pointed out a few months ago, there are good reasons for supporting a bailout, notably to prevent banks from failing, and thus throwing us into an economic stone age, where we'll all have dinosaur-related employment and push cars around with our fucking feet. But the bailout remains wildly unpopular because it effectively rewards a bunch of assholes who already make too much money, whine about making too much money and managed to drive the entirety of capitalism off a cliff. Any bailout that doesn't involve bankers being pelted with vegetables is going to be a really tough sell.
Penis Joke #2: Q: How do you hurt a banker? A: Shoot him in the penis.
The stimulus package, on the other hand, should be quite popular, in that it will probably end up creating a few million jobs, and create a whole bunch of useful infrastructures like bridges and prostitution districts. The obvious downside to the stimulus package is its size (800 billion dollars or so) and the fact that there's no actual way of paying for it, other than sending a big I.O.U. to the future, with a note saying "Thanks dude. I'm totally good for it." Of course when the alternative is 25 percent unemployment and bowling with rocks, a bit of debt doesn't look so bad.
But despite its potential for popularity, the stimulus package has had a rough ride as of late, it being subject to a lot of debate in the Senate and all the assorted shrill name-calling that goes on with that. Most of the debate has fallen along the usual party lines, with the Republicans lobbying for more tax cuts in the package, and the Democrats pushing for publicly funded gay marijuana abortion centers, presumably.
One thing you've probably read is how much of the stimulus package will focus on 'shovel ready' projects, those being projects that can get started more or less immediately. The main reason these are given such priority is so the stimulus has an immediate effect. Building a bridge without at least a rough sketch of some sort is apparently considered dangerous by those cry-baby civil engineering types, and if it takes three years to get all your plans and permits in order, your bridge construction will be stimulating the economy three years from now, when things have already hopefully recovered. The downside to shovel ready projects is simple: If a project is just sitting around with plans but no funding, chances are it isn't that useful. If your town's got plans in place to build a Museum of Sexual Deviancy, then your mayor is probably right now trying to get some stimulus money. A fact which chafes some people - prudes, I guess.
Beyond that, I don't have the economics background to really dive into the nitty-gritty of the stimulus bill - although neither do any of the politicians voting on it. But as I understand it, the stimulus will do the most good if it's spent (duh), so putting the money where it's going to get spent in a hurry feels like the sanest move. And the fastest places it's going to get spent is by state governments (those guys are so fucking broke) or by building infrastructure projects. I'd put much less priority on other options, like tax cuts, education grants or expanded medical insurance. Although those programs would have the effect of putting money directly or indirectly into the hands of individuals, those individuals would likely put most of it into savings accounts or pay off credit cards. In short, instead of spending your stimulus money on disposable consumer products, you'd tuck it away for a rainy day like some kind of pussy.
Seeing as we can't trust people like you to not do something sensible with your money, infrastructure projects look like the way to go. As an aid to the treasury secretary (I heard he's a fan) here then are my suggestions for infrastructure projects which can be implemented quickly and will have a lasting positive/comedic effect:
Add an extra security lane at the airport.
A separate mass transit system just for homeless people to sleep on.
Backyard pools for everyone.
Leave piles of dirt around town for people to jump cars off of.
Ballpits for adults. Dig up any useless old park and fill the hole with balls.
A lane on each highway that can only be used by people who really need it.
An Energon Production facility or two, so we can finally lure some Transformers to Earth.
A big net to suspend over the Energon Production facility.