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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I Beat Obama By 22 Months

Barack H. Obama, September 2010, as reported by The New York Times (h/t HotAir) on October 12, 2010 (emphasis mine):
During our hour together, Obama told me he had no regrets about the broad direction of his presidency. But he did identify what he called “tactical lessons.” He let himself look too much like “the same old tax-and-spend liberal Democrat.” He realized too late that “there’s no such thing as shovel-ready projects” when it comes to public works.
William A. Jacobson, November 24, 2008, as reported by Legal Insurrection Blog (emphasis mine):
Of all the concepts to help build the economy, Barack Obama has seized on the one type of project -- public infrastructure -- that has the worst history of cost overruns, corruption, construction incompetence, and economic harm. There is nothing to suggest that the legacy of the Obama infrastructure plan, estimated to cost hundreds of billions of dollars, will be any different.
William A. Jacobson, December 6, 2008, as reported by Legal Insurrection Blog (emphasis mine):
Obama is trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. Infrastructure projects are not a good way to provide short-term stimulus, much less long-term job creation. Obama's infrastructure plan is a road to nowhere.
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  1. If Obama were truly informed he wouldn't be a liberal, much less a rad.

    I blame his mother.

  2. Wasn't it Plugs Biden who made the crack about On-th-Job-Training? Just askin'.

    "Because the Only Good Progressive is a Failed Progressive"

  3. As someone who knows next to nothing about economics, I ask this as a genuine question:

    Would it be any different for "deferred maintenance" projects? For example, in my run down city the last thing we need is new buildings and new roads, since half the storefronts are empty anyway. I'll readily grant that these "stimulus" projects were a boondoggle that should never have happened. *But*, if you were a smart mayor and someone gave you the money, would it have been better to spend it on stuff that needed to be repaired 20 years ago and never was? (Because someone back then thought it was more important to build another new highway exit than to fix the 100 year old roof on city hall.)

    How should a smart local official have behaved, when given the stimulus money that his city was going to get whether he really wanted it or not?

  4. Infrastructure: Not good for stimulus, but a great investment if done right.

  5. Bob, you're exactly right. If Obama would have said something along the lines of "Here's 100 billion bucks, go fix every bad bridge in the country" you'd have seen a tremendous amount of work.

    They could also have had some new infrastructure up and going--high speed rail, for example--but they would have had to include riders exempting it from EPA review and a bunch of other oversight functions.

  6. Well, the Texas Congresscritter that stabbed Texas schools (going for the heart) about the schools stimulus asserted, Texas spent the money on qualifying projects already funded, and shifted the previous funding to cash reserves. Most states (like Illinois) did exactly the first, and used the "extra" money on pork waste or continuing unsustainable spending in other areas.

  7. But William, Obama is a genius. You must realize that. He is a higher order intellect, involving himself with both the physical and intellectual planes, all the time managing the public persona.

    Oh, one question. Why didn't he understand that public sector and 'shovel ready' are mutually exclusive again? Maybe the realization came to him while he wasn't meeting with the head of BP.

  8. Bob, I'm not sure the type of construction makes much difference. Because the project is a public money project there are long delays while bids are requested and received from contractors. The people and gear for the projects aren't standing in a warehouse waiting to rush out of the door once the contract winner is announced either.

    I think all you really save by going with already ID'd projects over new construction is the time for engineering and permitting sort of things. You still have 90% of the problems, delays, and costs due any top-down project. Did I mention the preference to pick projects of well-connected donors over unconnected and worthy projects? We have to burn out the idea of stimulus plans for the reasons above and the fact that the hope for such a plan causes people to wait and see if they will get the pork rather than looking around and working on their own local project. The real problem is the rapidly increasing desire for gov't solutions to any and all problems.

  9. Anyone who has spent any time with government funding, realized "shovel ready" was a lie. No project gets to the "let's get started stage" without already having been bid and funded. One would really have thought Obama had enough government experience to understand that. Oh wait, he did. He is merely lying again.

  10. Bob, I live close to downtown Detroit and I've wondered in idle moments (not too many of those thankfully) what could be achieved in that warzone with a couple hundred million $$ and a few 'dozers. Other than some freeway construction absolutely nothing has changed here

  11. I simply love the idea that it is prescient to be able to see the boondoggles that government infrastructure jobs represent. The problem we seem to have is that we have no ability to shame the politicians and government employees into losing their jobs for failing. Texas dumped over a $100 million into a Department of Human Services computer system...then threw it away when it wouldn't work. THREW IT AWAY! The managers, or course, got promoted for managing such a large project.

  12. One would really have thought Obama had enough government experience to understand that.

    Based on what? Not showing up or voting present?

  13. Public works construction projects were never going to generate new jobs on the massive scale Democrats suggested. Boston's Big Dig was the largest such project in U.S. history, yet it only kept something like 5,000 people, at most, employed at any given time.

  14. Here's a real example of the fruitlessness of the Porkulus. I'm in the cabinet business. I sell cabinets for many differenttypes of projects including public housing. All public and private multiple family properties have long range maintenance plans.

    When the call went out for "shovel ready" projects public housing authorities collapsed their five or ten year plans into one year. Suddenly there dozens and dozens of RFP's for Remove and Replace. That is, tear out the old cabinets and counter tops and put new one's in.

    But _everyone_ knew this was a short term deal. The factories didn't hire new workers, they required mandatory over time, or filled in slow spots in the production schedule. I didn't send a single bid to a new contractor, it was the same faces. Some part time installers, who were trimming houses in the retail market, got a few more months of work. And some weaker contractors, who should have gone out, got a few months reprieve because of the sheer volume of work.

    Some of the R&R's really needed to be done, some were probably at that stage but could have waited a year or two..and some were not even close to having to be replaced.

    And now, and for the next few years, there won't be hardly any work at all in that segment. This is the same for the other trades: HVAC, Roofing and siding primarily.

  15. Even if bid and shovel ready, the law required a change notice or worse a rebid because the pay scales were set by the government. One contactor I know was paying $27/hr for electricians and under the stimulus contract he had to up the pay to $47/hr. He was not going to "eat" the difference.

  16. This piece claims that the feminist Left lobbied much of the money away from unemployed males who needed it most.