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Monday, February 17, 2014

Happy Birthday Stimulus Bill, When Does The Recovery Begin?

On February 17th, 2009, five years ago this week President Obama signed the $787 billion “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act” (AKA the stimulus) into law.

At the time the President said:
"Today does not mark the end of our economic troubles, But it does mark the beginning of the end - the beginning of what we need to do to create jobs for Americans scrambling in the wake of layoffs; to provide relief for families worried they won't be able to pay next month's bills; and to set our economy on a firmer foundation."
Sadly that promise was never realized.

When the stimulus was signed, Obama's Economic Advisors predicted that with the stimulus plan, the unemployment rate would be around 5 percent by the end of 2013.

According to the Labor Department, the unemployment rate was 6.7 percent in December 2013, and 6.6 percent In January 2014. And that's the good news. Since the stimulus bill was signed the Labor Force Participation Rate has fallen to 63% which means many Americans have gotten so frustrated at the lack of jobs, they stopped looking for work altogether. Today’s workforce participation levels haven’t been seen since the bad old days of the Jimmy Carter Presidency 36 years ago.

Despite the promise of shovel-ready jobs from the stimulus, construction employment has declined by 524,000 workers since President Obama signed the stimulus bill.

Then there were all the wasted funds for example:
  • $3 Million In Stimulus Funds For A Turtle Crossing . "A report due to be released today by a Republican senator contends the Obama administration's stimulus program is fraught with waste and incompetence - evidenced by a turtle crossing in northern Florida that will cost more than $3 million."
  • $2.5 Million In Stimulus Funds For A Bridge At The Clinton Presidential Library. "A historic bridge at Bill Clinton's presidential center in Little Rock is slated to get $2.5 million of federal stimulus money from Arkansas's share of the funds. … Members of the Arkansas congressional delegation sought an $8 million legislative earmark for the bridge this year, without success. But after Congress authorized the $787 billion stimulus package in February, representatives of the William J. Clinton Foundation contacted Mr. Beebe's office, according to Matt DeCample, the governor's spokesman, and spoke with Mr. Beebe's recovery director and ombudsman to suggest the bridge project receive funds from Arkansas's share."
  • Over a half billion dollars of stimulus dollars went to Solyndra. In August 2011, Solyndra Announced That It Would File For Bankruptcy And Laid Off 1,861 Workers. "On the day it closed, Solyndra said it was laying off 1,100 full-time and temporary employees. But 1,861 workers lost their jobs as the solar panel manufacturer shut its doors, according to U.S. Labor Department documents provided to The Bay Citizen under the Freedom of Information Act… By the time it closed last August, Solyndra had an unsold inventory of more than 23 megawatts - enough solar panels to power about 23,000 homes."
  • $219,000 In Stimulus Money Went To Study Female Students' Behavior After Drinking Alcohol. "The National Institutes of Health got $219,000 in funds to study whether female college students are more likely to "hook up" after drinking alcohol."

  •  In October 2012, Taxpayer-Backed A123 Systems, A Maker Of Rechargeable Lithium-Ion Batteries For Electric Cars, Filed For Bankruptcy. "A123 Systems Inc. (AONE), a maker of rechargeable lithium-ion batteries for electric cars, filed for bankruptcy after failing to make a debt payment that was due yesterday. The company listed assets of $459.8 million and debt of $376 million as of Aug. 31 in Chapter 11 documents filed today in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Delaware. Chapter 11 is the section of the Bankruptcy Code used by companies to reorganize."

Of course the cronyism didn’t help the stimulus either:
  • $3.9 Billion In Department Of Energy Stimulus Grants And Awards Were Directed To 21 Companies With Ties To The Obama Administration. "During the next three years, the department provided $2.4 billion in public funding to clean-energy companies in which Wagle's former firm, Vantage Point Venture Partners, had invested, a Washington Post analysis found. Overall, the Post found that $3.9 billion in federal grants and financing flowed to 21 companies backed by firms with connections to five Obama administration staffers and advisers."

Five years after the stimulus was signed Rasmussen reports only 29% of voting Americans believe the country is heading in the right direction. Five years after the stimulus was signed, despite the fact that technically the recession ended before most of the stimulus was spent (June 2009), a Fox News poll reports that 74% of registered voters believe we are still in a recession.

Five years after President Obama and the Democratic Party pushed through the stimulus plan without even reading what was in it, all America really has to show for the “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act” is a whole handful of nothing.---few turtle jokes, failed green projects, a mounting debt, and people leaving the workforce.

Speaking of the debt, the actual cost was $830 billion. Since the money was spent in 2009 and George Bush was the president at the beginning of the 2009 fiscal year, that $830 billion got added to Bush's debt. In other words, President Obama is a bigger spendthrift than for which he is given.

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