President Obama wants to spend more money. That’s why he wanted the debt ceiling raised; that’s why he wants to raise taxes; that’s why the Fed is keeping interest rates artificially depressed and printing dollars. When you see the great use he’s put our money to already, it’s not hard to see why he thinks that spending more will rocket our economy out of the pits and into the stratosphere.
We are two years into President Obama’s stimulus package, and it’s difficult to ignore the spectacular results. People all over the country are getting back to work. For example, President Obama’s National Endowment for the Arts granted $50,000 to Atlanta, Georgia’s Center for Puppetry Arts. “Since 1978, the Center has introduced millions of visitors to the wonder and art of puppetry,” the Center’s website claims. “We believe puppetry is awe-inspiring and magical.” The Obama administration agreed, and in the process, they created 1.90 jobs. Perhaps one retained puppeteer was missing a digit. (In actuality, five jobs were “retained,” and none were created, according to the aptly-named recovery.gov website.)
The American Museum of Ceramic Art, which received $50,000 to create 1.37 jobs, was also part of this economic surge. If the Obama administration had given this amount to the Center for Puppetry Arts, making a total of $100,000 it could have created 3.80 total jobs rather than 3.27.) Puppetry is more cost-effective than ceramics – you don’t have to pay the puppets.
It has only cost us $50,304,622 so far for awards through the NEA. This is certainly an example of recovery one job at a time.
But Obama hasn’t spent it all in one place. He’s spent $10,890,060,866 on important agricultural programs. Aquaculture producers in Alabama, for example, received over $9 million to compensate them for their losses due to increased feed costs for catfish. Those of us who love peculiar seafood dishes will be satisfied. Those of us who keep kosher will not. But at least we can keep full with Algood peanut butter – that company has pulled in $5 million in awards from the feds. The Department of Agriculture went even further with its stimulus dollars, ensuring that states like New York would be reimbursed for subsidizing student lunches. How’s that for a racket? Subsidize farmers for making peanut butter, then subsidize schools to buy that costly peanut butter for their students. Everybody wins!
The real estate market is already in a hole. But President Obama is determined not to stop digging. Under the auspices of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the stimulus package has provided $325,877,114 to build low-income housing in California. The goal: building 3,550 units of affordable housing. By 2012, nearly two million homes in California will have been foreclosed upon. One in five foreclosures in the country takes place in California. President Obama’s solution: build more houses. How many jobs were created by this initiative? According to the administration, 1,164.78. (That last guy must have been missing two digits.) Taxpayers absorbed a cost of $279,775.68 for each of those jobs.
President Obama also ensured through the stimulus package that union members would get a fair shake via the Department of Labor. The 1199 Service Employees International Union League Job Security Fund grabbed in excess of $2 million. What does the fund provide? According to the SEIU website, the fund is to be used to place laid off workers in new jobs. But if that can’t be achieved – and how could it, exactly? – the laid off workers are given extra unemployment benefits along with their government unemployment benefits. In other words, we are paying for laid off union members to get unemployment benefits twice.
The Department of Health and Human Services is providing jobs by funding research studies like the one at Emory University on how to get more gay black and Hispanic men to participate in research studies. That study has only cost the taxpayers $998,982. HHS is also providing $939,585 to Boston University to study how effective Massachusetts’ socialized medicine has been in treating “traditionally underserved women” with cancer. Does anyone really doubt what the outcome of that government-sponsored study will be?
And let’s not forget the most important people of all: the people who enable us to track where our money is going. Smartronix, Inc., received an award in 2009 to build the Recovery.gov website. “The scope of this order,” according to the award summary, “is to provide and implement a complete Web solution, known as Recovery.gov Version 2.0 that facilitates maximum transparency in support of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.” That they do – and at the bargain basement price of just over $15 million. That $15 million, according to the website, has created 4.00 jobs.
The stimulus: the gift that keeps on giving.