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If Stimulus Bill is Working, Where Have the Jobs?

August 19, 2009

At the six month anniversary of President Barack Obama’s signature “achievement” — the $787 billion stimulus measure — it’s important to separate economic fact from fiction.

While persuading Democratic lawmakers to pass the massive spending bill without reading it, the White House promised the stimulus would provide “an immediate jolt” to the U.S. economy, create millions of new jobs and keep unemployment under 8 percent.

None of those promises has materialized.

If the stimulus is working so well, where are all the jobs? Two million more American jobs have been lost, the economy continues to contract and the unemployment rate is at 9.4 percent and likely headed higher. The government reported recently that extended mass layoffs are at a record high.

The fact is the stimulus is too slow, not focused on jobs, and wasteful.

Only 10 percent of the stimulus money has hit the U.S. economy. To put it in Texas terms, if the American economy is the length of a football field, the stimulus spending so far is equal to the length of your two shoes. No one — at least with a straight face — can credibly claim it is driving an economic recovery. I didn’t vote for this then and I believe congressional leaders and the White House should admit it’s not working.

Only half of the stimulus spending will make its way through federal and state bureaucracy by early 2011 — long after the economy really needs it and just as critics correctly predicted.

Very little of this government’s spending has created new jobs. The whopping $1.10 a day tax cut hasn’t spurred any consumer spending, because most people didn’t even notice it. Funding for roads and infrastructure is roughly 5 percent of the overall stimulus spending. It’s appalling to me that more stimulus dollars will be wasted on things like buying new public art than spent helping small businesses survive this recession.

So far, the stimulus has only served as a bailout to state governments so Democratic and Republican governors alike can claim balanced budgets.

And, unfortunately, as predicted, far too much of the spending has been wasteful.

While it is difficult for an average taxpayer — or even a member of Congress — to track the spending, each day the media reports on some outrageous boondoggle: a $3 million turtle crossing in Florida, $50,000 for a hand puppet project through the National Endowment for the Arts, new office furniture for federal executives. An even more blatant example of the misuse of money occurred in Union, N.Y. The city was given $600,000 for a homeless program that it never requested. The city doesn’t have homeless issues nor a homeless program. When city leaders protested, the federal government told them to “get creative.”

With America‘s crushing federal deficits worrying investors and inviting embarrassing lectures from China, we should all be asking ourselves, Is this how we want our tax dollars spent?

Borrowing more than a trillion dollars to pay for all this will eventually put a drag on America‘s recovery, along with increased energy prices from the cap-and-trade scheme and major tax increases on professionals and small businesses included in the health care reform bill.

Rather than send Vice President Joe Biden out on the stump making wild claims about the stimulus to an increasingly skeptical America, it’s time to repeal the unspent portion of this boondoggle and start showing the world we are serious about getting our financial house in order.

Brady, the ranking House Republican on the Joint Economic Committee, represents the 8th District of Texas.