Alas, the one-year anniversary of the signing of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has come and gone. The only recovery, as it seems, has involved a renewed sense of patriotism and adherence to conservative and libertarian values, ideas and ideals among Americans concerned about the direction in which the nation is headed. And the only reinvestment, it seems, has come in the form of additional debt and other burdens being placed upon America’s children and children to come.
Before embarking upon the sentimental journey which is a recap of stimulus-related happenings in America over the past year, it only seems right to take a look back at exactly what was in the $787 billion piece of legislation, a bill which President Obama noted during January’s meeting with House Republicans in Baltimore was completely and totally free of pork. Here are some of the non-porky highlights from the 1,073-page bill (remember when 1,073 pages was long?!?):
- $8 billion for a Mag-Lev train running from Disneyland in Anaheim, CA to Las Vegas in Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s Nevada
- $300 million spent for electric golf carts
- $650 million for digital television converter box coupons
- $335 million for STD prevention programs
- $50 million for the National Endowment for the Arts
- $6 billion to make federal buildings more energy efficient due to pressure from environmental groups
- $200 million to rehabilitate the grass in the National Mall
- $276 million to fix computer systems in the State Department
- $98 million for a “polar icebreaker”
- $200 million to design and furnish the Department of Homeland Security headquarters
- $150 million for a parking facility near a Little League field in Puerto Rico
- $6 million for a snowmaking facility at a mountain in Duluth, Minnesota
- $3.4 million for a turtle tunnel running under a Florida highway
- $400 million for research into the settled science of global warming
- $2.4 billion for carbon capture projects
- $4+ billion for ACORN and other community organizing groups
It was a nightmare. And while it was intended to create jobs through funding of so-called “shovel-ready” projects–Nancy Pelosi famously said that the stimulus bill was about “jobs, jobs, jobs and jobs”–the vast majority of the money hasn’t even been spent yet, and this administration’s continued tendency to err on the side of higher taxes, limitless spending, federal government takeovers and record-breaking debt has cast a pall of uncertainty over America’s financial future, and has had a chilling effect on small business owners and other job creators from coast to coast.
As it stands now, more than 14 million Americans are currently looking for work, the unemployment rate continues to hover around ten percent, and the true unemployment rate–counting people who have already given up looking for work–is upwards of 16 percent. Gone are the days of 4.7 percent unemployment under George W. Bush. And, as President Barack Obama takes to the airwaves touting the purported success of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Americans everywhere continue to ask the same darned question: where, exactly, are the jobs?
Thanks to the office of Republican Whip Rep. Eric Cantor, we have a great timeline of stimulus-related news from throughout the year, much of which discusses the gap between assertions made all along by this administration as to job creation and growth and the true reality of this manufactured economic downturn. Every time the Obama administration or the Democratic Party leadership would make an assertion that the stimulus package was working and a certain number of jobs had been saved or created, Cantor points out, a careful look at the true facts would shoot holes in the claims. Take a look for yourself:
- February 17, 2009: $787 billion Recovery Act signed into law. Unemployment rate stands at 7.6%.
- February 17, 2009: Administration releases specific state-by-state numbers reflecting the expected impact of the Recovery Act.
- February 17, 2009: The nation‟s first Recovery Act project is announced, a new bridge in Tuscumbia, MO.
- February 24, 2009: President Obama announces that Vice-President Biden will “lead a tough, unprecedented oversight effort – because nobody messes with Joe.”
- March 3, 2009: President unveils “Recovery Act” logo designed by the same Chicago firm that helped create the Obama Campaign logo. March 4, 2009: CNN reports on the controversy surrounding the first Recovery Act project in a segment titled “A New „Bridge to Nowhere.‟” March 6, 2009: Department of Labor announces that 651,000 jobs were lost in February and that the unemployment rate rose to 8.1%.
- March 16, 2009: Press reports indicate that even Recovery Act “Czar” Earl Devaney is questioning the state-by-state jobs figures released by the Administration.
- April 3, 2009: Department of Labor announces that 663,000 jobs were lost in March and that the unemployment rate rose to 8.5%.
- April 13, 2009: The Administration announces 2,000th Recovery Act project, but an ABC News fact check reveals that far fewer projects are actually underway.
- May 8, 2009: Department of Labor announces that 539,000 jobs were lost in April and that the unemployment rate rose to 8.9%.
- May 12, 2009: Reports begin to surface of dead people, some deceased for 40 years or more, receiving $250 stimulus checks.
- May 13, 2009: The Administration releases its first quarter Recovery Act report stating that as of May 5, $28.5 billion had been spent.
- May 21, 2009: The Administration quietly releases a footnote to its previous report announcing a $10.4 billion accounting error that reduces the actual spending by roughly one-third of what was reported a week earlier.
- May 27, 2009: President Obama marks the 100 day anniversary of the Recovery Act by claiming that 150,000 jobs have been saved or created.
- May 29, 2009: Politifact.com reports on the President‟s claim of 150,000 jobs created or saved, saying it is “not much better than a guess presented as a fact.”
- June 5, 2009: Department of Labor announces that 345,000 jobs were lost in May and that the unemployment rate rose to 9.4%.
- June 22, 2009: Administration releases rules for counting jobs “saved” and “created.”
- July 2, 2009: Department of Labor announces that 467,000 jobs were lost in June and that the unemployment rate rose to 9.5%.
- July 8, 2009: It is reported that the Administration will spend up to $18 million to revamp its recovery.gov website.
- July 27, 2009: Congressional Democrats claim highway and transit spending from the stimulus has created or sustained 48,000 jobs.
- July 31, 2009: The group ProPublica checks in on the Democrats‟ claim of 48,000 highway and transit jobs created or sustained and says the estimate suffers from “fuzzy math.”
- August 5, 2009: Reports indicate that only 12% or $70 billion of stimulus funds have been spent.
- August 7, 2009: Department of Labor announces that 247,000 jobs were lost in July and that the unemployment rate was little changed at 9.4%.
- August 17, 2009: Speaker Pelosi marks the six month anniversary of the Recovery Act, saying, “the Recovery Act is already paying dividends for workers, families, and small businesses.”
- September 3, 2009: Vice President Biden states that the Recovery Act is “doing more, faster, more efficiently, and more effectively than most expected.”
- September 4, 2009: Department of Labor announces that 216,000 jobs were lost in August and that the unemployment rate rose to 9.7%.
- September 28, 2009: Reports indicate that Recovery Act spending has reached $102 billion.
- October 2, 2009: Department of Labor announces that 263,000 jobs were lost in September and that the unemployment rate rose to 9.8%.
- October 15, 2009: Administration announces that contracts awarded with Recovery Act funds have created or saved 30,383 jobs.
- October 29, 2009: Associated Press analysis reveals that the 30,883 job count previously released by the Administration overstated the jobs created or saved. “The AP review found some counts were more than 10 times as high as the actual number of jobs; some jobs credited to the stimulus program were counted two and sometimes more than four times; and other jobs were credited to stimulus spending when none was produced.”
- October 30, 2009: Administration announces Recovery Act has saved or created 640,329 total jobs.
- November 6, 2009: Department of Labor announces that 190,000 jobs were lost in October and that the unemployment rate rose to 10.2%–surpassing the 10% unemployment mark for the first time since 1983.
- November 16, 2009: The press reports that many of the jobs created or saved were, according to the government‟s official website, created or saved in congressional districts that do not exist.
- November 16, 2009: Appropriations Chairman David Obey (D-WI), one of the principal authors of the Recovery Act, condemns the inaccuracies reported on recovery.gov as “ludicrous mistakes.”
- November 19, 2009: Administration confirms that they cannot confirm their claim that 640,329 jobs were saved or created by the Recovery Act.
- December 4, 2009: Department of Labor announces that 11,000 jobs were lost in November and that the unemployment rate edged down to 10.0%
- December 18, 2009: Administration sends out a memo saying they will no longer count jobs created or saved, but instead count jobs funded in whole or in part by the Recovery Act.
- January 8, 2010: Department of Labor announces that 85,000 jobs were lost in December and that the unemployment rate remained at 10.0%.
- January 26, 2010: The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) increases the estimated cost of the Recovery Act by $75 billion to $862 billion plus interest.
- February 3, 2010: Reports indicate that one-third of stimulus funds have been spent.
- February 5, 2010: Department of Labor announces that 20,000 jobs were lost in January and that the unemployment rate edged down to 9.7%.
- February 12, 2010: The press reports that Speaker Nancy Pelosi sent Democrat Members of Congress a memo stating that “The Recovery Act is a hallmark achievement of this Congress…”
For links to sources backing up each of the facts in the timeline, check out the original PDF document from Cantor’s office by clicking HERE.
Numbers and percentages aside, we need to remember the overarching idea that we simply cannot spend our way out of a recession. It’s been tried before. It was tried during the 1990s in Japan, and it resulted in what the Japanese call “The Lost Decade.” And it was tried here with Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal, a vast spending spree which, according to UCLA Econonics Department Vice Chair Lee Ohanian, “short-circuited the market’s self-correcting forces.”
In other words, said Ohanian and University of Pennsylvania economist Harold Cole, Roosevelt’s leadership at a time of economic crisis actually may have extended the Great Depression by seven years, an assessment which has since been clouded by the left’s revisionist history.
“Why the Great Depression lasted so long has always been a great mystery, and because we never really knew the reason, we have always worried whether we would have another 10- to 15-year economic slump,” said Ohanian back in August 2004. “We found that a relapse isn’t likely unless lawmakers gum up a recovery with ill-conceived stimulus policies.”
Still, the massive failure of the so-called stimulus package and the administration and party which foisted it upon the American people has not come without upside. Look around you, and consider what I wrote a year ago yesterday, when the legislation was signed into law:
If there is any good news to come out of this today, it comes from the fact that much of this much-needed spending will not even be allocated for a number of years down the road, including projects which may not even begin until after the 2016 Olympic Games. If the Republican Party can maneuver itself properly, if it can retain much of the fire and principles shown over the past few weeks and establish a mechanism by which that message can be effectively disseminated, we could be looking at 1994 all over again . . . in 2010.
I’ve been predicting for a long time now, ever since Barack Obama triumphed over a dejected Hillary Clinton in the 2008 Democratic Party primary, that America in the wake of an Obama presidency would have a renewed love for liberty not unlike a survivor of a nasty automobile accident has a newfound love for life. I’ve been saying for a long time now that 2010 would be 1994 all over again, and indeed right-leaning and right-thinking Americans have much reason to be optimistic.
As it turns out, the Republican Party is looking as though it may very well maneuver itself properly and become the political vehicle for the largely libertarian and conservative views held by the tea parties. And it is looking as though the grassroots movement itself has become an excellent mechanism by which that renewed message can be disseminated.
Years from now, I cannot help but wonder how history will treat Barack Obama and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Surely, Obama’s four years in the White House will likely be perceived as a second term for Jimmy Carter — I just hope that this time will not only be looked at as a tremendous learning experience, but also as a miraculous time when through the darkness America once again became in touch with the spirit and principles of this nation’s founding.