Kyl: The Stimulus: Six Months Later

Earlier this year, Congress hastily approved legislation ostensibly aimed at stimulating the economy. According to the plan, the federal government would spend over $1 trillion to fund “shovel-ready” projects nationwide. President Obama claimed the bill would save, even create, “millions” of new jobs. With some now suggesting a second stimulus package, it’s a good time to look at some preliminary results of the first package.

In January, the president’s economic team assured the nation that the unemployment rate wouldn’t rise beyond eight percent if Congress passed the “stimulus” measure. The president even proclaimed in an April 29 news conference that the stimulus bill has “already saved or created over 150,000 jobs.”

As the liberal-leaning noted, “the president’s claim is really an estimate of what his economic advisers think the stimulus bill is doing, and not based on any evidence of its actual effects.” The fact is, over three-million jobs have been lost this year, and unemployment reached a 25-year high of 9.4 percent in May, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. President Obama now acknowledges, “it’s pretty clear now that unemployment will end up going over 10 percent.”

Many experts also warned that government spending of such magnitude couldn’t be disbursed in a timely way, and now it’s clear that most of the stimulus money hasn’t even been put to use. According to the White House website, – which tracks how the stimulus money is being spent – only 6.2 percent of the stimulus bill has reached the economy as of June 12. And the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projects less than a quarter of the total “stimulus” money will be spent before the end of this year, with the bulk of it distributed over the next three years.

In three years, the recession will most likely be over. In fact, even the Obama administration predicts that the economy will begin to improve later this year. If that’s the case, the administration will no longer have a justification for its stimulus spending. Yet, taxpayers will still be on the hook for the hundreds of billions that the government will have to borrow to pay for it.

Even the money that has been spent isn’t going to the worthy “shovel-ready” projects often mentioned by proponents of the bill. On January 6, then President-elect Obama stated that the stimulus bill would set a “new higher standard of accountability, transparency and oversight. We are going to ban all earmarks, the process by which individual members insert projects without review.”

Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn recently issued a report highlighting some of the projects the stimulus bill has funded. Here’s a snapshot: the Social Security Administration sent out one-time $250 payments to its recipients, including 10,000 people who are dead; a national forest in Missouri will receive close to a half-million dollars to replace 22 concrete toilets; Pawtucket, Rhode Island will receive $550,000 for a skateboard park; and $300 road signs are being placed at construction sites to advertise that the project is being funded by the stimulus bill.

With the results now in, it’s not a surprise that a recent Rasmussen poll found that 45 percent of Americans want to cancel the rest of the stimulus spending. I agree.