Obamateurism of the Day

Remember when Barack Obama promised to singlehandedly restore American economic growth by spending almost a trillion dollars, focused mainly on “shovel-ready jobs” in government projects? Republicans warned at the time — from the outside of Porkulus debate, since Nancy Pelosi wouldn’t allow the GOP to participate in drafting the stimulus plan — that public-works projects that received the funding were not going to be “shovel-ready,” and that the boost from funding them would be entirely temporary anyway, merely moving up already-scheduled work a few quarters. Obama scoffed at the notion and claimed that America had so many “shovel-ready” projects that we’d get massive multipliers for economic growth immediately.

Guess who was right? As Obama admitted this week, it wasn’t him — and he apparently thinks that’s pretty darned funny:

It was explained to Obama that the permitting process can delay projects for “months to years … and in many cases even cause projects to be abandoned … I’m sure that when you implemented the Recovery Act your staff briefed you on many of these challenges.” At this point, Obama smiled and interjected, “Shovel-ready was not as … uh .. shovel-ready as we expected.” The Council, led by GE’s Jeffrey Immelt, erupted in laughter.

Go ahead, laugh along with Obama. You paid $830 billion for that joke … even if it is on us.

The most ironic part of this, though, is blaming the failure on the “permitting process.” That means government regulation, which Obama has been expanding rapidly to implement his agenda while bypassing Congress. It’s the very same problem that keeps the private sector from investing its capital into growth-producing ventures. Instead of laughing at the bitter irony, maybe Obama would do better to learn from it.

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!