Obama on Smart Grid: No longer about jobs

Stung by the utter failure of Porkulus to stem the tide of joblessness, the Obama administration has quietly dropped its “jobs” argument for funding federal projects.  ABC’s Rick Klein notices that the Smart Grid project, one of the most highly touted programs for job creation by Barack Obama and Joe Biden, has had that requirement removed:

When Vice President Joe Biden announced a new $3.3 billion grant program to upgrade the nation’s electricity network, the rationale was simple: “This is jobs — jobs,” he said in April.

But the Obama administration is now saying it will not take the potential for job creation into account in “rating” proposed projects for possible funding — after initially saying that would be a primary consideration.

In April, when the Energy Department first announced regulations for companies that wish to apply for “Smart Grid Investment Grants,” “job creation and retention” was among the explicit criteria. …

But late last month, the department quietly modified the criteria to take the job piece out. As the department explained in a June 26 set of Frequently Asked Questions:

“These criteria differ significantly from those presented within the [Notice of Intent]. First, DOE removed the criterion on the extent of jobs creation and now will require applicants, as stipulated within the Recovery Act, to report quarterly on the number of jobs created and retained.”

It’s not hard to understand why this got pulled, especially given the timing. By the end of June, the Obama administration had realized that unemployment continued to rise despite all of the pork projects it had funded through Porkulus. The next week’s report from the BLS showed joblessness rising to 9.5%, proving that the Porkulus approach wouldn’t work to create jobs at all.

Now the White House wants to make it all about the technology. That’s fine; the national electrical grid needs revamping, and it’s one of the few projects in Porkulus that will help build a stronger private sector by securing the electrical and electronic infrastructure, as well as eventually saving energy. But their retreat from “jobs, jobs, jobs,” shows that the White House understands that they own rising unemployment, and that their program isn’t helping to stem it at all.

Of course, it’s difficult to trust economic policy to someone who can’t even count the letters in the word “jobs”, as we saw last October: