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- June 21, 2011

They Didn’t Work Last Time But Senate Democrats Are Recycling Their Failed Stimulus Policies To Try To Save Their Own Jobs

FACING A GRIM ROAD TO REELECTION, SENATE DEMOCRATS ARE GEARING UP TO TRY AND SELL ANOTHER INFRASTRUCTURE “JOBS BILL”

Fearing Their Jobs Are At Stake, Democrats Are Searching For A “New Agenda Aimed At Job Creation.” “Senate Democrats are beginning to fear that the country’s increasingly dim economic outlook will cost them their seats in 2012 and are trying to craft a new agenda aimed at spurring job creation.” (Manu Raju, “Democrats Eye New Jobs Agenda,” Politico, 6/19/11)

Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK) Is Seeking A “Boost In Infrastructure Spending.” “Sen. Mark Begich has enlisted business officials to present senators with their ideas for bolstering job creation, and the Alaska Democrat wants his party to unveil a package full of proposals — like a boost in infrastructure spending …” (Manu Raju, “Democrats Eye New Jobs Agenda,” Politico, 6/19/11)

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY): “Economists Will Tell You That When You Build Infrastructure, It Creates New Jobs. And We Should Be Doing Something Like That.” (CBS, “Face The Nation,” 6/19/11)

BUT INFRASTRUCTURE SPENDING 
WAS “HARDLY A GAME CHANGER” THE FIRST TIME AROUND

Former Biden Chief Of Staff Ron Klain: The Stimulus’ Infrastructure Spending Was “Hardly A Game Changer.” “Yes, infrastructure projects create jobs. But even by the administration’s own estimate, the number of jobs created or saved by $25 billion in Recovery Act spending on roads was a mere 150,000 over a two-year period. That isn’t a trivial number, but it’s hardly a game changer for an economy that needs to create 5 million jobs each year just to keep the unemployment rate constant.” (Ron Klain, Op-Ed, “Forget About Hoover Dam And Other Job-Growth Lessons,” Bloomberg, 6/14/11)

  • Klain: “It’s Time To Let Go Of The Idea That A Handful Of Marquee Construction Projects, Even Majestic And Lasting Ones, Can Solve Our Employment Problem.” “The U.S. needs jobs, and better bridges, roads and dams. But it’s time to let go of the idea that a handful of marquee construction projects, even majestic and lasting ones, can solve our employment problem. Such endeavors alone didn’t bring us out of the Depression in the 1930s, and they won’t end our current predicament.” (Ron Klain, Op-Ed, “Forget About Hoover Dam And Other Job-Growth Lessons,” Bloomberg, 6/14/11)

Obama’s Infrastructure Spending On Roads And Bridges From First Stimulus “Has Had No Effect On Local Unemployment.” “Ten months into President Obama’s first economic stimulus plan, a surge in spending on roads and bridges has had no effect on local unemployment and only barely helped the beleaguered construction industry, an Associated Press analysis has found.  Spend a lot or spend nothing at all, it didn’t matter, the AP analysis showed: Local unemployment rates rose and fell regardless of how much stimulus money Washington poured out for transportation, raising questions about Obama’s argument that more road money would address an ‘urgent need to accelerate job growth.’” (“What Stimulus?  Road Projects Aren’t Boosting Jobs Much,” The Associated Press1/11/10)

AP Fact Check Found That Many Stimulus Initiatives, Including Transportation, That The White House Touted Would Likely Fall Far Short Of The Administration’s Intended Results. “The Obama administration claimed this week that $100 billion invested in innovative technologies under the economic stimulus law is ‘transforming the American economy’ by putting the nation on track for technological breakthroughs in health care, energy and transportation.” (Frederic J. Frommer, “FACT CHECK: Stimulus Assessments Overly Optimistic,” The Associated Press8/26/10)

AND THE ONLY THING BETTER TO SELL THAN AN INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECT 
IS A “SHOVEL-READY” INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECT

Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI): “Shovel-Ready Infrastructure Projects Are The Most Immediate Way To Create Jobs And Get The Economy Moving Quickly. The Recovery Plan Includes $48 Billion In Funding For Ready-To-Go Road, bridge, rail and other projects to immediately and directly create jobs.” (Sen. Levin, Congressional Record, S.2304, 2/13/09)

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA): “Local People Are Saying To Us, Please, Senators, Do Something To Help Us Get Out There, Spend The Money On These Shovel -Ready Projects--the highways, the bridges, the transit systems, the sewer systems, the safe drinking water issues. Help us do it.” (Sen. Boxer, Congressional Record, S.1383, 2/3/09)

Sen. John Kerry (D-MA): “I Have Heard Colleague After Colleague Say: Well, What Job Is Going To Be Created Through This Spending? Well, Let Me Tell You Very Directly. If You Have A Shovel-Ready Project, We Can Put That Into Place Tomorrow. There Are Thousands Of Them Across The Country Ready To Go.” (Sen. Kerry, Congressional Record, S.1806, 2/6/09)

Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD): “We Have Shovel-Ready Projects In Every Jurisdiction In My Home State Of Maryland.” (Sen. Cardin, Congressional Record, S.1386, 2/3/09)

Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL): “This Economic Recovery Bill … Funds Shovel-Ready Infrastructure.” “This economic recovery bill that we will consider this week begins to move us in the right direction. Now, there ought to be some tweaks and some iterations on it, and we are going to consider that in the amendatory process, but let's consider the thrust of it. It funds shovel -ready infrastructure--those projects that are ready to go--which are going to strengthen our Nation while creating jobs in the construction sector.” (Sen. Nelson, Congressional Record, S.1372, 2/3/09)

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA): “We Need To Repair This Infrastructure, And The Beauty Of Doing It As Part Of This Package Is That It Puts People To Work Immediately On Projects That Are Shovel Ready.” (Sen. Feinstein, Congressional Record, S.1380, 2/3/09)

But As Obama Conceded, Those Weren’t That Great Either …

President Obama: “Shovel-Ready Was Not As Shovel-Ready As We Expected.” (President Obama, Remarks In Durham, N.C., 6/13/11)

Obama Bought The Advice Of Economists Who Said Any Spending, “Even The Worst Kind Of Boondoggle” Was Stimulative. “For the Obama transition teams and their allies on the Hill, three questions loomed large in designing the package. The first was whether the proposed spending was economically stimulative: Did it save or create jobs, and thereby put money in people’s pockets? It turned out that economists believed almost any spending met this criterion. In a recession even the worst kind of boondoggle is stimulative, a fact that critics had a hard time comprehending.” (Jonathan Alter, The Promise, Simon & Shuster, 2010, p84)


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