With midterm elections less than two months away, President Obama has announced plans for at least $50 billion in new government spending on the nation’s transportation infrastructure. The administration and its supporters won’t call it a second stimulus plan, but most others agree that’s exactly what it is.
A Rasmussen Reports survey finds that 55% of U.S. voters continue to oppose a second economic stimulus package. Only 31% support a second stimulus.
The public has good reason to be skeptical. Karl Rove, a key advisor to President George W. Bush, said in a Wall Street Journal column:
Mr. Obama and his people…mischaracterize where most stimulus dollars go. Their constant prattle about ‘shovel ready projects’ is an attempt to leave the impression that most goes to bricks and mortar. Not true: Only 3.3% of (last year’s) $814 billion stimulus went to the Federal Highway Administration for highway and bridge projects.
Lurita Doan, Administrator of the U.S. General Services Administration during the Bush Administration, agrees. She said on Townhall.com:
American taxpayers were promised that the ‘critical infrastructure projects’ to be funded by the…February 2009 stimulus were going to invigorate the economy and create 3.5 million jobs. But that didn’t happen….(I) had responsibility for building, maintaining, and managing approximately $550 billion in government hard assets, so I know all too well that the current, bureaucratic, approval process needlessly delays federal construction projects, creates confusion and anger among legislators with projects in their districts and, ultimately, drives up the cost to taxpayers.
Columnist Jay Ambrose said much the same about stimulus 2 on Realclearpolitics.com:
It’s an absurdity on all kinds of grounds, not the least of which is that we’ve heard infrastructure promises before. The original…stimulus was supposed to be more than anything a shovel-ready plan to spiff up our highways, bridges, railways, runways and the like. But a funny thing happened to it on the way to economy-enhancing glory. It was waylaid by ineptitude and political corruption. Some unproductive pork here and another earmark over there, and pretty soon you had grandiose waste while the jobless suffered.
Let’s be clear, though, that the stimulus package was something worse than a missed opportunity. It was first off based on the proposition that if you yank money out of the hands of those who ordinarily make the economy go and then turn it over to central planners, miracles will occur. With the wisdom that comes only by being miles away from the action and having extremely limited knowledge, the philosopher kings in Washington would spend this money with far superior results than you could get from entrepreneurs on the spot, and, voila, there would be dancing in the streets.
Looking around outside, I see people not dancing in the street but pounding the pavement looking for those shovel ready jobs.