75% of Americans Think Stimulus Was Wasted
CNN with a wince-inducing, yet on the whole, unsurprising report:
A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Monday morning also indicates that 63 percent of the public thinks that projects in the plan were included for purely political reasons and will have no economic benefit, with 36 percent saying those projects will benefit the economy.
Twenty-one percent of people questioned in the poll say nearly all the money in the stimulus has been wasted, with 24 percent feeling that most money has been wasted and an additional 29 percent saying that about half has been wasted. Twenty-one percent say only a little has been wasted and 4 percent think that no stimulus dollars have been wasted.
Pretty harsh. But then people are understandably upset – underemployment has been over 15% for almost a year and is now inching toward 20%; we’ve seen a year-long debate on “healthcare” which looks like it’s going down the toilet; we’ve seen the major financial institutions award their rascals of executives more money than a common man can expect to earn in three lifetimes; and we’ve seen utter complacency and disregard from our so-called “elected representatives”. Good news is hard to come by.
But at the same time, is the public right about this? Has the stimulus been a waste? Really, it’s quite hard to tell – the whole idea behind the bill was to create jobs and put a “bottom” on the economy, and this has only dubiously been achieved.
Joe Klein has a typically abusive response entitled “Too Dumb to Thrive” wherein he upbraids the bovine public for being too stupid to understand what’s going on; after all they all got $60 extra dollars in their paychecks! Why are they complaining?
Klein’s response lacks any real analysis – for that, I recommend ProPublica’s coverage of the stimulus, which would indicate that while the money hasn’t exactly been “wasted” per se, it has certainly been mis-allocated, and at times, completely mis-handled.
See, for instance this report on schools unable to access their stimulus funds:
After the federal stimulus passed in February, North Carolina school officials thought they had found a way to repair the 58-year-old gym and other crumbling school structures. The stimulus provided money for Qualified School Construction Bonds, which is intended to let school districts raise capital through interest-free bonds to fund construction.
The program also was expected to boost North Carolina’s construction industry. Ben Matthews, director of school support for North Carolina’s Department of Public Instruction, estimated it would create 11,000 jobs.
But the bond program has become entangled in financial and bureaucratic red tape. Only $2.3 billion of the $11 billion in bonds available this year have been sold as of last week, data compiled by Bloomberg show.
Well, that’s not good. Or again, take this report about stimulus funds going to contractors under federal criminal investigation:
The Department of Defense awarded nearly $30 million in stimulus contracts to six companies while they were under federal criminal investigation on suspicion of defrauding the government.
According to Air Force documents, the companies claimed to be small, minority-owned businesses, which allowed them to gain special preference in bidding for government contracts. But investigators found that they were all part of a larger minority-owned enterprise in Southern California, making them ineligible for the contracts.
Kickbacks, anyone? The point here is not that the stimulus was “totally wasted” as many Americans seem to think – only that there exists ample reason for them to feel that way. Maybe Joe Klein could keep that in mind next time he writes an abuse letter to America’s body politic.