04 September 2009

Perhaps the Vice-President Needs a Personal Fact-Checker

(or at least someone to stop him from rambling on and on).

Vice-President Biden's robust defense of the stimulus package yesterday, raised some eyebrows when the glowing report mentioned nothing of the myriad of complaints coming from those who are supposed recipients of the funding:
'Biden, Obama's chief stimulus cheerleader, proudly pointed to more than 2,200 highway projects Thursday funded by the program, but didn't mention the growing frustration among contractors that infrastructure money is only trickling out and thus far hasn't delivered the needed boost in jobs. ...

Transportation Department Inspector General Calvin Scovel said last month he will examine the Federal Aviation Administration's process for selecting programs for the $1.1 billion in grant money. His announcement came after his office discovered that the Obama administration used stimulus money to pay for 50 airport projects that didn't meet the grant criteria and approved projects at four airports with a history of mismanaging federal grants.

And Biden praised the more than 2,400 military construction projects paid for with stimulus money, but ignored the millions of dollars in savings the Defense Department lost because it hasn't competitively bid many of the jobs.

The Defense Department frequently awards no-bid work to small contractors for repairs at military bases under the stimulus, costing taxpayers millions of dollars more than when businesses compete for the work, an Associated Press analysis of 570 such contracts found.'

The problem is, the stimulus was supposed to be a quick shot in the arm to protect against rising jobless rates, and boost spending. While the rate of unemployment growth has fallen, total jobless numbers continue to rise, hitting 9.7% nationally by the end of August. And, as Biden himself acknowledged, the final implementation of the stimulus will be rather slow (stretching out over two years by most estimates). There doesn't seem to much point to a stimulus that doesn't stimulate in the short run. After that point, the economy would be expected to slowly recover on its own.

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