Could you use $50,000 to fix up some things around your house? Sure you could!

But what if you had to spend all that money within a month? How would you assure quality workmanship under such a tight deadline?

That's the challenge Congress confronts on a grand scale as it debates how to get the most out of the $825 billion the Obama administration proposes to spend jump-starting the U.S. economy.

All sides agree on the importance of getting money into circulation quickly. Happily, rushing aid to the neediest will also generate the biggest multiplier effect in the wider economy. That's why expanded food stamp assistance ... extended unemployment benefits ... and increased Medicaid funding ... should be at the top of Washington's stimulus priorities.

... But it's not unreasonable to worry that corruption and waste will flourish where the emphasis is on spending now and asking questions later. That's why the transparency Obama has promised ... is so critical. All those improvements to our national home will amount to nothing but long-term debt if the workmanship is shoddy.