One of the high points -- or from our perspective low points -- of President Obama’s State of the Union message was a call for more federal spending on roads, bridges and other “infrastructure.”
Obama’s “Fix-It-First” program “to put people to work as soon as possible on our most urgent repairs, like the nearly 70,000 structurally deficient bridges across the country,” sounds an awful lot like his stimulus program from four years ago.
Americans who pay taxes will no doubt recall this $821 billion program was intended to put money into “shovel ready” government construction projects, such as roads, bridges and other “infrastructure” to put the unemployed to work and to stimulate private sector investment.
We will leave it to others to figure out how many unemployed real estate agents, interior decorators and others associated with the busted housing industry were ready to go to work building roads and bridges, but you get the point.
Despite Obama’s claims that such “investments” will stimulate private sector economic growth, there’s no evidence that it actually worked. As conservative Congressman Steve Scalise, Chairman of the Republican Study Committee, pointed out, “Four years after President Obama signed his $821 billion taxpayer funded stimulus bill into law, American taxpayers are still paying the tab for the broken promises, and all we have to show for it are higher unemployment, higher debt, and higher taxes,” said Scalise. “The president promised that unemployment would not rise above 8 percent with the passage of his spending bill, but in fact the unemployment rate remained above 8 percent for 43 straight months. “
Obama used much the same argument – his new proposal will put people to work AND stimulate private investment – to justify the federal government pouring billions into “green energy.”
Lo and behold, that same argument re-appeared to justify Obama’s “Fix-It-First” program, “to make sure taxpayers don’t shoulder the whole burden, I’m also proposing a ‘Partnership to Rebuild America’ that attracts private capital to upgrade what our businesses need most: modern ports to move our goods, modern pipelines to withstand a storm, modern schools worthy of our children.”
Except in the case of the green energy program, what Obama's "stimullus" has mostly done is stimulate the pocket books of Democratic donors who put other people’s money into these sketchy ideas, packaged them up, sold them to the government and then bailed before the thing imploded. Projects like failed green energy company Solyndra (and several other green energy projects) that got billions from the government and then folded leaving the government and investors high and dry, but the Democrat middle men with millions.
We can only imagine what a port project modeled on Solyndra would look like, but no doubt the corruption in it would make “On the Waterfront” look like “My Little Pony.”
As Scalise noted, time and time again, President Obama’s radical big government proposals have left our nation deeper in debt and have resulted in a more sluggish economy. Big government is the problem, not the solution. In the wake of the stimulus, Americans have suffered through higher taxes, a weak jobs market, and the worst economic recovery seen since the Great Depression.
The problem is, when it comes to “investing” in roads, bridges and other infrastructure – preferably in their district or state – when push comes to shove, big government, big spending Republicans, like Florida’s John Mica, always side with the Democrats.
If the House is going to defeat Obama’s new plans for the kind of stimulus spending that has already failed once, to the tune of $821 billion, then conservatives like Steve Scalise and the Republican Study Committee are going to have to lead the way and force the House leadership to stick to the conservative principles it likes to talk about, but from which it rarely actually governs.