Last week, we noted the excellent back-and-forth between Veronique de Rugy and Nate Silver regarding some of de Rugy’s research into stimulus spending. The best part of the debate, at least for us, was that two smart people put aside differences to prod each other to better answers and sharper thinking.
Less than a week later, de Rugy has already posted a revised version of her study, using methodological improvements that came out of her discussion with Silver. In the spirit of transparency, she has posted her revision, the original, and all her data here. Her own brief summary of the revised results is posted on The Corner. And she also sums up the questions that many researchers, journalists and citizens (including us) are asking:
There is still much more to learn on the question “How are stimulus funds being spent and why?”
The more I dig into this, the more important the question seems. After all, we’re talking about hundreds of billions of dollars. This is a question I will continue to try to shed some light on. And I’ll continue to refine my model to do so. For instance, I would like to try to understand better what we could learn from the design of the stimulus bill itself — what can we say about the fact that so much money is in fact spent or going to state capitals? (It’s not just that it’s being allocated there; the Recovery.gov data I use tells where the money is actually spent.) What explains the fact that so much more of the money is going to the Department of Education than to the Department of Transportation? And what are we getting for our money?
We hope that de Rugy (and Silver and many others) continue asking these questions, especially that last one, and keep prodding each other toward better answers–and do so as transparently and cooperatively as de Rugy and Silver.