Obamateurism of the Day

In his Earth Day speech yesterday in Iowa, Barack Obama celebrated by giving us a pair of Obamateurisms in the space of a few moments. See if you can spot the Classic Obamateurism, and the New Improved Obamateurism in this passage:

Through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, we have begun to modernize 75% of all federal building space, which has the potential to reduce long-term energy costs by billions of dollars on behalf of taxpayers. We are providing grants to states to help weatherize hundreds of thousands of homes, which will save the families that benefit about $350 each year. That’s like a $350 tax cut.

Consumers are also eligible as part of the Recovery Act for up to $1,500 in tax credits to purchase more efficient cooling and heating systems, insulation, and windows in order to reduce their energy bills.

And I’ve issued a memorandum to the Department of Energy to implement more aggressive efficiency standards for common household appliances, like dishwashers and refrigerators. Through this step, over the next three decades, we’ll save twice the amount of energy produced by all the coal-fired power plants in America in any given year.

We are already seeing reports from across the country of how this is beginning to create jobs, as local governments and businesses rush to hire folks to do the work of building and installing these energy efficient products.

First off, saving $350 a year on energy savings is not “like a tax cut”.  He tried making that same argument about lower interest rates on mortgages, too.  The grant helps in paying for the weatherization, but the cost savings are just that.  A tax cut is when government takes less of your money, not when energy companies take less of your money.  By that definition, a broken lightbulb is like a tax cut, too, and thanks to cap-and-trade, it’ll get you used to the dark, too.

The second, newer Obamateurism comes from Obama’s assertion that local governments and businesses are rushing to hire “folks” to work in these construction and repair jobs to do this work.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics begs to differ.  Construction has lost jobs for three successive months, shedding 126,000 of them in March alone.  Government jobs dropped by 5,000.  Specialty trade contractors have 83,000 workers in March, the bulk of the construction jobs lost — and this is at the beginning of spring, traditionally when these firms add staff for the expected jump in demand.  Of all industries, only manufacturing and professional/business services did worse.

The only “rush” Obama’s created with his stimulus package so far is either a rush to the unemployment line, a rush of capital out of the market, or both.

Got an Obamateurism of the Day? If you see a foul-up by Barack Obama, e-mail it to me at [email protected] with the quote and the link to the Obamateurism. I’ll post the best Obamateurisms on a daily basis, depending on how many I receive. Include a link to your blog, and I’ll give some link love as well. And unlike Slate, I promise to end the feature when Barack Obama leaves office.

Illustrations by Chris Muir of Day by Day. Be sure to read the adventures of Sam, Zed, Damon, and Jan every day!