There are fewer successful stimulus projects than condoms at the Octomom’s house, despite over $500 billion in federal spending since January 2009. That hasn’t stopped President Obama from proposing more, but it has prompted him to change his sales pitch.
Last month, Senators Tom Coburn and John McCain compiled a list of the stupidest uses of Congress’ original $787 billion economic stimulus package that included $750,000 for the development of interactive dance software, $2 million for researchers to photograph ants in the Indian Ocean, $90,000 to replace new sidewalks in an Ohio town with newer sidewalks that lead to a ditch and $554,000 to replace the windows of an abandoned Mount St. Helens visitor’s center that Washington state has no plans to reopen.
With the jobless rate ticking up to 9.6 percent and consumer confidence in the toilet, it ought to be obvious that Democrats’ last stimulus plan was about as effective as teaching Terry Jones to read. But Obama’s solution to that problem is more of the same medicine — another $250 billion stimulus package, including $50 billion in infrastructure spending to bankroll 4,000 miles of new railroad tracks for people averse to speed.
Even the two workable parts of the plan — the $200 billion in tax write-offs and the $100 billion in business tax credits — have problems. The White House plans to compensate for lost revenue with tax hikes on foreign income — not spending reductions. As a result, small businesses, the supposed beneficiaries of a second stimulus, have to raise prices to make up the difference, making them less competitive in foreign markets.
Fifty-five percent of Americans are opposed to more spending, according to the latest Rasmussen poll. And as misuses of the last stimulus package continue to come to light — $800,000 to an African genital washing program, for instance — that number is bound to increase. Given the unpopularity of his plan, Obama’s best shot at getting reelected in 2012 might be to hope that Republicans nominate his plan.
Aware of the polls, Democrats locked in tight Congressional races are doing everything to shut Obama up but send Kanye West to interrupt him. Connecticut State Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, running to replace Senator Chris Dodd, said last month that he would’ve opposed the first stimulus bill had he been in Congress. And Colorado Senator Michael Bennett vowed in September to oppose the next.
Obama declined to call his plan a “stimulus” at last Monday’s announcement, opting instead to call it an “economic plan” to distinguish it from his last trillion-dollar boondoggle. On that score he’s right. The feds spent $500 billion, brought home magic beans and now want a quarter of a trillion more to do the same thing. Calling it a “stimulus” is like calling Kristin Bell an actress. It just has no credibility.
Dorian Davis is a former MTV HITS star and MTV News content developer-turned-flaming politics blogger and libertarian writer. Published in Business Week, NY Daily News, XY and more. National Journalism Center alum. NYU and CUNY grad. Journalism professor at Marymount Manhattan College.