Wednesday, August 18, 2010

"White House Under Fire for Unspent Infrastructure Cash" (BGC; CAT; FLR; JEC: PWR)

UPDATE: "Why We Didn't Spend the Stimulus Money on Infrastructure: "No Country for Burly Men" (BGC; CAT; FLR; JEC: PWR)"
Original post:

I've commented on this a few times in the last month, here's the Wall Street Journal:
The Obama administration has paid out less than a third of the nearly $230 billion allocated to big infrastructure projects in the economic-stimulus program. Now Republicans are zeroing in on the unspent stimulus money in fresh attacks on the administration's economic policy.

"More people believe that Elvis Presley is alive than [that] the stimulus created jobs," U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.), a member of the House Republican leadership, said Sunday on CNN's State of the Union. "And that's because what have they spent the money on?"

They are suggesting that unspent stimulus money should be used to cut the deficit or pay for other initiatives, such as extending the Bush tax cuts. "I would roll back the stimulus," Mr. McCarthy said. "That's $260 billion."

House Republican leader John Boehner (R., Ohio) has called in recent days for a halt to stimulus spending and recently sparred with the White House over whether stimulus projects have boosted hiring in his district.
The administration has said that stimulus spending was always intended to roll out in stages, over two years, and that the pace of outlays for infrastructure would be slower than for parts of the package that provided tax cuts and subsidies for programs such as Medicaid.

White House economist Jared Bernstein, in an Aug. 11 blog post, said that when Republicans call for a halt to stimulus spending, "they're essentially talking about taking away middle-class tax cuts, leaving unemployed workers unexpectedly high and dry without an unemployment check, halting road and bridge projects and leaving them unfinished, leaving contractors unpaid for the work they've already done and more."
Recent opinion polls suggest the White House has struggled to communicate its message, particularly after its emphasis on "shovel-ready" projects during the debate over the plan's passage in early 2009.

Criticism of the pace of the stimulus appears to be resonating with voters. In a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll in May, 18% of respondents said the plan was already helping to improve the economy, and 20% said they thought it would help in the future. Confidence appears to have slipped from July 2009, when 48% of respondents said the plan was helping the economy already or would help it in the future....MORE