In a disappointing discovery late last week, involving a purported study used by Mankiw and Republican tax-cut advocates to discredit infrastructure spending, we find the report doesn't exist.
Reports of a recent study by the Congressional Budget Office, showing that the vast majority of the money in the stimulus package won't be spent until after 2010, have Democrats on the defensive and the GOP calling for a pullback in wasteful spending.
Funny thing is, there is no such report.
"We did not issue any report, any analysis or any study," a CBO aide told the Huffington Post.
Rather, the nonpartisan CBO ran a small portion of an earlier version of the stimulus plan through a computer program that uses a standard formula to determine a score -- how quickly money will be spent. The score only dealt with the part of the stimulus headed for the Appropriations Committee and left out the parts bound for the Ways and Means or Energy and Commerce Committee.
Because it dealt with just a part of the stimulus, it estimated the spending rate for only about $300 billion of the $825 billion plan. Significant changes have been made to the part of the bill the CBO looked at. [More]
The politicization of the debate is not going to make progress any easier, but transparency enforced by the Internet may help to countrbalance this shortcoming.
I am surprised an economist of Mankiw's stature has not posted a correction.