AIP Column: Porkulus plotz, stimulus dollars go to Obama Country
posted at 11:08 am on July 9, 2009 by Ed Morrissey
My column today at American Issues Project takes a closer look at two reports on the failure of Porkulus to create jobs — and shows the dishonesty of how that gets measured by the Obama administration. After months of bragging about 150,000 jobs “saved or created,” the GAO admits that the states have done almost nothing with their portion of the funds to do anything but keep bureaucrats employed. Republicans, meanwhile, expose the dishonest calculus of the White House in making these claims:
The Republicans in Congress issued a report stating that none of the above really matters anyway, because the Obama administration essentially “rigged” the metrics of the stimulus to defy argument. The White House and the Office of Management and Budget have repeatedly spoken of jobs “created or saved,” a construct to which even Democrats in Congress eventually objected. When pressed, Rob Nabors, the deputy director of OMB, told Congress to “count the people being paid out of Recovery Act dollars.” …
If an employee leaves to take another job, employers will wait as long as possible before adding to their costs unnecessarily. If this happened in an expanding economy, it would more likely result in hiring someone else – but then, we wouldn’t need to do this in an expanding economy in the first place.
But the OMB didn’t stop at just counting heads. The Obama administration set up the rules to count jobs as “saved” even when they were not at risk. For instance, they attempted to claim credit for tenured professors using ARRA funds for their program …
The White House wants to claim credit for saving jobs that were never at risk in the first place. It comes from their actual method of calculating the job savings and creation, which is to assume that they’re perfect and that their calculations of dollars spent per dollar worked — even if they have no proof of the hypothesis. They’re counting the amount of money spent, dividing by their dollars-per-job index, and publishing the result, even if it has no basis in reality. It’s either dishonest or deluded; there is no third option, as the unemployment figures attest.
USA Today has begun looking at the stimulus spending to find out why it’s not working, and notices a curious coincidence:
Billions of dollars in federal aid delivered directly to the local level to help revive the economy have gone overwhelmingly to places that supported President Obama in last year’s presidential election.
That aid — about $17 billion — is the first piece of the administration’s massive stimulus package that can be tracked locally. Much of it has followed a well-worn path to places that regularly collect a bigger share of federal grants and contracts, guided by formulas that have been in place for decades and leave little room for manipulation.
“There’s no politics at work when it comes to spending for the recovery,” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs says.
Counties that supported Obama last year have reaped twice as much money per person from the administration’s $787 billion economic stimulus package as those that voted for his Republican rival, Sen. John McCain, a USA TODAY analysis of government disclosure and accounting records shows. That money includes aid to repair military bases, improve public housing and help students pay for college.
There’s no politics at work in spending the money? The White House wants people to believe this is a statistical anomaly. It may not have been a deliberate calculation, but the disparity comes from the nature of the stimulus, and it shows just how political Porkulus was. It wasn’t a stimulus package at all — most of the money gets spent after the first year — but a collection of Democratic Party ideological wish lists and pork projects. Districts that voted Obama get twice as much money per person because Democrats controlled the pork projects and got the money into their districts. That’s not exactly rocket science, but it’s certainly revealing.
While you’re at AIP, be sure to read Jimmy Bise’s column on Section 304 of cap-and-trade, which I may feature in a post later today. Also, don’t forget to keep up with AIP’s excellent bloggers.
Update: My column has gotten posted after some technical issues; link added.