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Nov. 17 2009 - 5:25 pm | 107 views | 1 recommendation | 6 comments

Is the Stimulus Obama’s Katrina?

Hurricane Katrina

Other than raising the cigarette tax on those making under $250,000 per year, and breaking a signature campaign promise in the process, Obama really has no legislative accomplishments other than the Stimulus package, which was signed into law on February 17 of this year, just weeks after he was sworn in as president.

The country was (and is) in great financial straits. This was the one piece of legislation that was supposed to stop the economic free-fall and, most of all, would stop unemployment from rising above 8%. Without it, we were told, it could rise to 9%.

Here is the now-famous chart showing us Obama’s silly claim.

Unemployment Stimulus chart October 2009

One could be excused for thinking that, since unemployment now stands at 10.2%, perhaps the whole notion of spending almost $800 billion in taxpayer money to create jobs, as some predicted, actually made the situation worse. At a minimum, we can conclude that Obama and his team were clueless when it came to predicting the benefits of their own legislation (which, of course, does not bode well for the ObamaCare promises). Nevertheless they said unemployment would not exceed 8%, and here we are at 10.2%.

So how is the Stimulus like Katrina? For starters, it is a has been horribly mismanaged.

Red flag number one was that Joe Biden was put in charge.

Obama announced his decision before the National Governors Association in Washington on Monday, saying Vice President Joe Biden will help ensure the distribution of the money is not just swift, “but also efficient and effective.”

“The fact that I’m asking my vice president to personally lead this effort shows how important it is for our country and future to get this right,” he said.

Biden, in his new role, would meet regularly with key members of the Cabinet, governors and mayor to make sure their efforts are speedy and effective. He is expected to make regular reports to the president that will be posted online at www.recovery.gov.

Distribution of money would be swift?

The administration recently announced that stimulus spending totaled $113 billion [out of $787 billion, a measly 14%] by the end of fiscal 2009 (which ended September 30). . . .

Federal departments and agencies tasked with spending money on infrastructure and construction have overwhelmingly failed to get the money out the door. The Departments of Commerce, Defense, Energy, Homeland Security, Interior, and Transportation have spent less than 10 percent of their stimulus funds, far less than what was originally anticipated. . . . At that rate, those agencies would take 58 years to exhaust their stimulus money.

Not so swift.

By comparison, Bush was criticized in January 2007 for only spending $30 billion of the $85 billion in Katrina relief funds allotted by Congress a year earlier. The math shows that Bush spent 35% of the money in a year. Obama is at 14% so far in 9 months.

Biden was also going to spend the money “efficiently and effectively.”

We start with the goal of “saved or created” jobs, a deliberately squirrely phrase that allows the administration to take credit for an unprovable number of “saved” jobs.

Then we add in the fact that 10% of the stimulus jobs are completely phony, and that many of the “real” jobs were created in Congressional Districts that do not exist. All of this was boldly reported on the Recovery.gov website that underwent an $18 million redesign (by the way, since when does a website of any kind cost $18 million?) so we could all see how the government is spending our money.

Joe Biden said the site was so cool that it would blow us away.

All — everybody has to account for the money they got beginning October 1st. It’s going to go up on a big old Web site. We’ve got a new modern Web site that’s going to blow you away in terms of how detailed it is. I really mean that.

Oh, it is a detailed website all right, perhaps a little too detailed.

Polls show that 57% of Americans don’t think the Stimulus is working and the Democrats took a pounding in the elections in Virginia and New Jersey earlier this month.

And yet despite the disastrous results of the Stimulus, along with the gross waste and mismanagement, the administration defies all facts and logic and ludicrously calls this boondoggle a great success.

Vice President Joe Biden delivered a rousing review of the government’s economic stimulus plan in a conversation with the nation’s governors. “In my wildest dreams, I never thought it would work this well,” he said. “Thank you, thank you.”

Biden Brownie, you are doing a heck of a job.


6 Total Comments
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  1. collapse expand

    Mr. Dupray,

    In the 10 months that Mr. Obama has been in office the Republican Party has ferociously opposed every one of of his initiatives to the best of their ability inside and out of the Congress, with more than some success. Now you are criticizing Mr. Obama because he has not been successful in overcoming Republican obstructionism?

    Mr. Bush spent the days before hurricane Katrina hit on his ranch in Texas playing a guitar on the porch. Once the levies broke, he and his political cronies did not nothing to aid the citizens of New Orleans, Louisiana, or Mississippi. A whole city was destroyed and many people died. When they finally did do something, it is was badly executed.

    Mr. Obama inherited an economy in a nose dive from Mr. Bush and got an emergency economic stimulus package passed by the congress over intense Republican opposition. Yes, it has not improved things but maybe it keep things from getting worse than it would have otherwise. Yes, most of it has not even been spent. The congress naively set up the program to fund “shovel ready” projects, not realizing that projects do not get “shovel ready” without funding. There are just not a lot of projects with workers standing around with their equipment at the ready and the foreman saying “Dang, if we only had 10 million dollars we could build that bridge”.

    Mr. Obama is trying hard against a man-made problem he inherited with stiff Republican opposition. Mr. Bush did nothing about a natural disaster he knew was coming with cooperation from everyone.

    Sorry, those are not the same.

  2. collapse expand

    “Obama really has no legislative accomplishments other than the Stimulus package, which was signed into law on February 17 of this year,”

    That’s really a matter perspective Bill, I certainly consider the Matthew Shepard Act, Lilly Ledbetter, & expansion of CHIPS to be major accomplishments but I can see why you wouldn’t.

  3. collapse expand

    And lets not forget the soon to be health care reform bill and a major jobs package that will be passed most likely by xmas.

  4. collapse expand

    Mr. Duprey,

    There is a tendency to agree with your argument because the recovery for Main Street has been slow however to blame the entire problem on Obama is far too simple.

    The administration could not predict that when the banks were rescued they would hoard cash rather than be good corporate citizens and invest, as in lend, to small businesses that are suffering cash and inventory short falls. It is interesting that Goldman Sachs, a bank has announced a charity program to offer loans to small business. Shouldn’t a bank with record profits just provide loans and thus save jobs and encourage hiring?

    Doling out money in a deliberate way to the States is far different from creating a federal program like CCC in the depression. You would have howled socialism at such a program. It is the States who have been slow to produce programs and jobs. They claim that infrastructure projects need permits and studies before they can proceed.

    It is no secret that Bush moves quickly when it comes to distributing our tax dollars. In Iraq tons of cash were shipped in and distributed so quickly that there is no record of where it all went and billions disappeared and projects still were not finished. The Laura Bush Children Hospital is still not built. In the wake of the Katrina mess Chaney picked up the phone and agreed to send money to Brown, Root and Kellogg, the Shaw Group and Bechtel. These giant companies hired contractors who hired contractors who subcontracted and money went up in smoke. Bechtel bought trailers on the cheap that poisoned the occupants. Yes the money was spent quickly and with little thought to effectiveness.

    In the end I agree the recovery is too slow, projects taking too long and people are suffering. Maybe we need a more direct route to jobs which is why there is going to be a jobs summit.

    Is the stimulus Obama’s Katrina? Well, Acorn was supposed to be and Health Care his Waterloo as well as Afghanistan, Gitmo and that New York trial business. You can hope that maybe the birther’s are right or that he really is a Muslim agent or reads Mein Kampf and Marx under the bedcovers but overall the answer is no, he did not take a long time to realize there was a problem nor did he call on corporate cronies to join some gravy train.

    He is in the midst of a possible fatal error: Can you guess what it is?

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    I am a lawyer afflicted with a consuming desire to analyze and debate politics.

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