As I was saying ...

On the stimulus package

One thing is certain: The new economic recovery legislation certainly got a lot of people stimulated. It remains to be seen what its effect will be on the economy, but we know a few things for sure.

For starters, a lot of money will be allocated to construction—somewhere in the neighborhood of $135 billion. It will be spent in a variety of ways: Some, like retrofitting government buildings, will be in the form of direct expenditures; other spending will come in the form of grants to cities and states already jockeying for their place in line. Some spending will be expedited; some will take a while. Turns out it's not that easy to spend $787 billion.

We also know attorneys and accountants will be happy as they usually are when Congress is busy. There are myriad new tax credits and rules to sort through.

And we know the bill will refocus some attention on energy efficiency in homes and buildings. Homeowners, in particular, will have new, meaningful incentives for energy-improving retrofits. Also, one of the biggest winners in the new legislation is the U.S. Department of Energy; the agency will receive about $37.5 billion in additional funds.

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