The stimulus bill Congress passed in February 2009 was supposed to be spent predominantly on infrastructure rebuilding projects.
At an address to AFL-CIO members at Laborfest in Milwaukee on Monday, President Barack Obama pushed an additional $50 billion-plus stimulus bill designed to fulfill the novel task of… rebuilding the country’s infrastructure.
Obama warmed up his working class audience by wearing an open-collar shirt with rolled up sleeves, referring to his listeners as “folks,” and reminding them of the miserably unprosperous Reagan years, when unemployment plummeted from a Carter-induced 10% in 1982 to 5% by the end of Reagan’s second term.
The President’s proposed infrastructure spending aimed to rebuild roads, railways, and runways, not to mention public union coffers and Democratic Congressional reelection campaigns.
The bill would be paid for by eliminating tax breaks for oil and gas companies, also known as “raising taxes.”
In addition, the President proposed a new federal Infrastructure Bank of unspecified cost and scope that would use tax dollars to borrow private funds to fuel future projects. You know—sort of a cross between Amtrak and Fannie Mae, with all the efficiency of the former and all the transparency of the latter.
Chastising Republicans for their platform of “No, We Can’t” and their propensity to oppose everything he suggests, Obama declared, “If I said the sky was blue, they’d say no. If I said fish live in the sea, they’d say no.” Actually, if he said never-ending Keynesian spending orgies stimulate long-term economic growth, we’d say no. But close!
Obama announced that he would “keep fighting, every single day, every single hour, every single minute to turn this economy around.” (He did not say “every single second”—a guy does need time to get in some golf swings and order shrimp baskets in between bouts of pondering the economy.)
Behold a president whose economic ideas are so muddled that he could pronounce, in his speech, “[A]nyone who thinks we can move this economy forward with a few doing well at the top, hoping it’ll trickle down to working folks… just [hasn’t] studied our history”; and then, a few paragraphs later, brag, “[W]e’ve given tax cuts to small business owners… [W]e’re cutting taxes for companies that put our people to work here at home.” Gee—I wonder how giving tax breaks to companies helps the middle class? Perhaps, when taxes are lowered, wealthy company owners have more money to hire workers? You might almost say that tax cuts cause jobs to “trickle down” to the working class.
When the stimulus bill failed to reduce unemployment last year, liberal commentators snickered at how dumb conservatives were for expecting the bill to have an effect right away. In late spring 2009, when unemployment was at 8.5%, they said, Just wait a few more months. At the end of the summer, when unemployment was at 9.5%, they said, Just wait till the end of the year. At the end of the year, when unemployment was over 10%, they said , The stimulus could actually take years to lay bare its brilliant results.
Eighteen months after the stimulus bill was passed, the House Ways and Means Committee reported  that more than 2.5 million jobs had been lost.
Obama’s announcement represents a perverse stubbornness to acknowledge that his party’s economic ideas simply aren’t working. The one thing that might save his presidency would be for him to turn into President Bill Clinton and start governing from the center, but then he would have to admit that he was wrong, which he refuses to do.
The clincher that liberals know they should be following conservatives’ advice always comes when they trot  out the old canard that “Republican leadership hasn’t brought any helpful ideas to the table.” That’s what they said when conservatives rejected their nationalized health care scheme last year. The claim was belied by dozens  of innovative health care reform bills Republicans had introduced in the House that never even left the referral stage.
The Tea Party’s Contract from America , for one, lists 10 fantastic ideas for strengthening the economy and creating an environment favorable to growth and development, such as simplifying the tax system, imposing caps on annual federal spending increases, and permanently extending the Bush tax cuts. In other words, “no helpful ideas.”
Obama’s latest tin-eared proposal is final proof, in 12-foot tall, blood-red, block letters for those who still need it, that he doesn’t get it: Americans are furious and terrified about the mountains of debt he has piled on top of us and don’t believe any of his spending programs have helped the economy.