AP: Gee, those stimulus projections seem optimistic

Instead of doing a fact-check, all the Associated Press needed to do was replay its own headlines on economic indicators this summer to reach the same conclusion.  Actually, though, the AP didn’t bother to fact-check the claims from the supposedly stimulating Porkulus spending; they focused instead on claims of high-tech victories that came from $100 billion in pork spending on renewable energy, transportation, and healthcare-records projects.  Guess what?  Those have been almost as effective as the rest of the Obama administration’s economic policies:

The Obama administration claimed this week that $100 billion invested in innovative technologies under the economic stimulus law is “transforming the American economy” by putting the nation on track for technological breakthroughs in health care, energy and transportation.

But an examination of details in the 50-page report unveiled Tuesday by Vice President Joe Biden reveals something a bit different: a collection of rosy projections that ignore many of the challenges, pitfalls and economic realities in all those areas.

That’s a real shocker, isn’t it?  That last sentence is a perfect description of Obamanomics.  Heck, the Recovery Summer campaign was nothing but rosy predictions based on fantasy and ignorance of the “challenges, pitfalls, and economic realities” of the American economy as a whole.

What did the AP discover on its fact check journey?  The US isn’t really on its way to “doubling U.S. renewable energy generation capacity and U.S. renewable manufacturing capacity by 2012.”  In fact, doubling it would be about the same as tripling or quadrupling it anyway, since the capacity doesn’t exist in meaningful, mass-production form anyway.  Neither are we on the way to halving the cost of solar power, for much the same reason; the recession may have had more impact on lowering cost than the pork did.  High-speed rail is still a vastly expensive investment in a service that few people want to use when airplanes are faster and more economical, for the simple reason that it doesn’t take billions of dollars to build and maintain air rails.  Making health-care records electronic sounds sexy, but no one has really been able to define how that will make people healthier on a large scale — and HHS only just published its standards for the computer systems that can be funded.  None exist at the moment.

Finally, the administration has insisted that its efforts to push electric cars will save on emissions and sell at a competitive price.  The AP scoffs, but misses an important point:

Even a White House task force on the auto industry’s recovery said while General Motors’ extended-range plug-in hybrid, the Volt, “holds promise, it will likely be too expensive to be commercially successful in the short term.” At $41,000, the Volt is about twice the price of a conventional midsize car. The price of electric cars will drop, but automakers are years from being able to sell them at the same price as cars with internal combustion engines. …

And there are questions about whether the large lithium ion batteries needed for electric cars are durable, safe and affordable enough for widespread use.

All true, plus the administration still hasn’t explained how they’re going to provide the power to charge those batteries.  We get our electricity mainly from coal-burning plants, which are less efficient at emissions than most internal-combustion gas engines.  If Obama imposes cap-and-trade, we will produce less electricity, not more, which means that the proposed $10 charge will cost a lot more, and the added demand simply won’t get met with the artificial restriction on supply that cap-and-trade will impose.

Maybe the AP will start fact-checking the rest of the White House stimulus claims, including “Recovery Summer.”  That would be most … unexpected.

Update: Right on Time, guess who doesn’t bother to fact check these claims at all?