This is a rush transcript from "The Journal Editorial Report," February 14, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
PAUL GIGOT, HOST: Up next on "The Journal Editorial Report," the biggest spending increase since World War II. What's buried in the so- called stimulus?
How will the ballooning budget deficit affect President Obama's agenda down the road?
Plus Wall Street bankers in the hot seat as Congress grills recipients on perks and pay. But should government set CEO salaries?
And Geithner's opening act. The markets tank as the secretary univalves his financial rescue plan.
"The Journal Editorial Report" starts right now.
Welcome to "The Journal Editorial Report," I'm Paul Gigot.
It's one of the biggest spending increases in history, so-called economic stimulus, with a $790 billion price tag. The bill marks the largest single-year increase in domestic federal spending since World War II and will send the budget deficit to heights not seen in 60 years. How will we pay for that and what will the ballooning budget deficit do to President Obama's agenda down the road.
Joining the panel this week, Wall Street Journal columnist and deputy editor, Dan Henninger; senior editorial writer, Collin Levy; Washington columnist, Kim Strassel; and senior economics writer, Steve Moore.
Kim, let me go to you first. Everybody's talking about the spending but there's real policy changes that are going to be — a big change for government this bill. What are the most important?
KIM STRASSEL, WASHINGTON COLUMNIST: Well, this bill, people haven't even really read it all yet. But what's been tucked in here are policy changes. Some of then, for instance, to do with healthcare, designed to bring people on to the federal health care system. Some has to do with the way health care technology works. There's some provisions that, for instance, water down the work requirements out in welfare, state welfare programs. There's things that have to do with changes, for instance, in education. There's a lot that has to do with policy, not spending.
GIGOT: How about the spending, Steve? This increase, where does it stand in terms of magnitudes. I mean, I remember the Reagan years when spending as a share of the economy got up to 23, 24 percent. But this bill will take that spending level much higher than that, won't it?
STEVE MOORE, SENIOR ECONOMICS WRITER: Yeah. Welcome to Sweden. We're moving to Sweden levels of spending here with spending the share of GDP going up to as high as 33 percent of GDP this year.
You asked the question what's buried in this bill. One of the things that infuriated a lot of republicans I've talked to and some of the blue dog Democrats, too, is a lot of them, even before the vote, they barely had time to read the bill. They were supposed to be given 48 hours. They had less than 24 hours. That's just I infuriating because there's so much — this is 700 pages. Most of the members who voted on this have never even seen what's in the bill.
GIGOT: But, Dan, this is a huge policy. Leaving vote aside and the difficulty some of the Democrats had getting some of the votes for it, nonetheless it's a big policy victory for a lot of liberal Democrats.
DAN HENNINGER, COLUMNIST & DEPUTY EDITOR: It is a big policy victory. I don't think they quite knew how to get the number up to $800 billion of spending so they put a lot of policy into it.
GIGOT: Cleaned out the cupboard.
HENNINGER:They cleaned out the cupboards.
GIGOT: 30 years of ideas, stuffed them in there and said great.
HENNINGER:A lot of the president's formal agency, going into the president, has been included into the bill. Plug-in hybrids, there are billions for plug-in hybrids, renewables, efficient cars, energy. There's $15 billion in there for renewable energy. And the health care data plan that Kim was talking about earlier, there's quite a few billions in there for that. So they have accomplished much of what they wanted to do.