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Obama Admits "There's No Such Thing As Shovel-Ready Projects" | Missouri Political News Service

Obama Admits “There’s No Such Thing As Shovel-Ready Projects”

October 13th, 2010 by mopns · No Comments

In a lengthy New York Times Magazine piece about President Obama, Peter Baker reports a rather interesting observation from the President. “While proud of his record, Obama has already begun thinking about what went wrong — and what he needs to do to change course for the next two years. . . . During our hour together, Obama told me he had no regrets about the broad direction of his presidency. But he did identify what he called ‘tactical lessons.’ . . . . He realized too late that ‘there’s no such thing as shovel-ready projects’ when it comes to public works.”

Consider that again. Twenty months after President Obama and Democrats in Congress pushed through their $817 billion stimulus bill, paid for entirely with borrowed money, on the premise that it would create jobs and put Americans back to work, the President is now admitting that “there’s no such thing as shovel-ready projects.”

But during the debate over the stimulus, Democrats assured Americans that these projects were “the most immediate way to create jobs and get the economy moving quickly,” as Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) put it. Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) boasted, “If you have a shovel-ready project, we can put that into place tomorrow. There are thousands of them across the country ready to go.” Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) said, “We need to repair this infrastructure, and the beauty of doing it as part of this package is that it puts people to work immediately on projects that are shovel ready.” And just after the bill passed, President Obama bragged, “…I can say that 14 days after I signed our recovery act into law, we are seeing shovels hit the ground.”

Yet 20 months later Obama now apparently realizes “there’s no such thing as shovel-ready projects.” So are Democrats prepared to admit that their other promises about the stimulus haven’t been borne out? Many Americans remember White House economists Christina Romer and Jared Bernstein predicting that if the stimulus passed, unemployment wouldn’t exceed 8%. Around the time the bill was signed Vice President Joe Biden famously declared, “[T]his is about getting this out and spent in 18 months to create 3.5 million jobs and . . . literally drop-kicks us out of this recession and we begin to grow again.” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said, “This bill creates 3.5 million jobs.” And Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) said, “[W]hen you spend money on infrastructure, you’re not wasting money, you’re investing money, and it has a return. And of course, we know, jobs, jobs, jobs. That’s what we’re all focused on.”

Despite these predictions and promises, the unfortunate truth is that over 3.3 million jobs have been lost since the stimulus was signed. The unemployment rate stubbornly remains at 9.6%. And thanks in part to the stimulus bill, the last two years have featured the largest deficits since World War II.

Like 8% unemployment and 3.5 million jobs, “shovel-ready” is another promise that the legislation created by Democrats and the Obama administration has failed to live up to. But at least President Obama is admitting that this one wasn’t realistic in the first place. What about all the others?



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