“Such a long-term investment program should not be put together hastily and lumped in with the anti-recession package. The elements of the investment program must be carefully planned and will not create many jobs right away,” said Rivlin, a fellow at the Brookings Institution. The risk, she said, is that “money will be wasted because the investment elements were not carefully crafted.”

And this seems about right to me—so much of the program seems to be going into extant programs at the expense of investments like high-speed rail that will transform the economy:

For some House Democrats, the problem is less a matter of balancing the short and long term than a shortage of focus and will on the part of the administration. Their disappointment centers on the relatively small amount devoted to long-lasting infrastructure investments in favor of spending on a long list of government programs. While each serves a purpose, the critics say, they add up to less than the sum of their parts, and fall far short of the transformative New Deal-like vision many of them had entertained.

And it quotes a Republican saying that only $30 billion of the stimulus plan is for roads and bridges, which are seen as relatively quick ways to boost the economy and help long-term productivity by fixing our decaying infrastructure. The Post presents a pretty compelling case that a ginormous spending bill like this needs to be done with more care. Splitting it into two spend now/spend a little later bills seems like a winner.

But to circle back around to my main point, the press has put on an excellent show today covering a critical nexus of the government and economy. It’s going to be a months- and years-long story.

Dig in.

Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at rc2538@columbia.edu.