So much for 'shovel-ready' jobs

So much for 'shovel-ready' jobs

June 30th, 2011 in Opinion Free Press

It was more than two years ago that President Barack Obama signed into law the $862 billion "stimulus" after it was passed almost exclusively by Democrats in Congress over Republican objections.

The American people were assured that the stimulus would fund lots of "shovel-ready" public works and other projects around the country, "creating or saving" many private-sector jobs and holding down unemployment.

But in the face of far higher unemployment than his administration predicted if the stimulus became law, Obama himself has now somewhat acknowledged that the stimulus didn't work out quite as planned.

"'Shovel-ready' was not as 'shovel-ready' as we expected," he said recently when asked about how the complicated federal permitting process had delayed or even killed some projects.

But apart from unreasonable delays in the federal permitting process, the stimulus often protected government jobs while jobs in the private sector continued to disappear. And by one Associated Press analysis, counties around the nation that received the most money for certain stimulus-funded road projects didn't fare any better in job creation than those that received none.

Other analyses have found that many of the estimates of jobs supposedly created by the stimulus were gross exaggerations. The Washington Examiner looked at coverage in newspapers around the country of some of the spending in the first few months of the stimulus. The Examiner found absurd claims such as these:

n The owner of a Kentucky shoe store said he used stimulus funds to create nine jobs. But his claim of creating those jobs was based merely on his providing nine pairs of shoes to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers!

n An organization in Hackensack, N.J., said it "saved" 85 jobs - by using hundreds of thousands of dollars in stimulus funds to give raises to existing staff!

All told, the newspaper found that 75,000 jobs credited to the stimulus were, in fact, neither created nor saved by the stimulus. And that was only in its first few months!

Despite the stimulus' failure, however, some in Washington are pushing for even more federal spending - and higher taxes.

But why should we repeat policies that didn't work the first time?