The misleading stimulus

Spending our way out of a crisis didn’t work in the Great Depression, and there is no reason it will work now.

A frequently quoted benchmark for success or failure in our economy has been job creation, measured by unemployment. President Barack Obama and his team have touted their new âÄústimulusâÄù package for one main reason: to get people working again. The same rhetoric has been used at another challenging time in our past: the Great Depression. At that time, the president told the public he was going to be spending an unprecedented amount of cash on projects intended to create jobs for workers who built the new pieces of infrastructure. Unfortunately, the plan did not work to turn around unemployment, and it would be a decade before the crisis began to turn around with the involvement of the United States in World War II. Today, our president has decided to dust off the old New Deal instruction manual and give it another shot. Obama is asking for billions to build more schools and roads âÄî items that he considers job âÄúcreationâÄù because workers will need to be hired to do the projects. This is a far cry from his campaign pledges to create new industries where jobs will last and be sustainable. Besides, these items belong in an appropriations bill, not the stimulus package. The American people have been in an Obama-induced trance so long that they donâÄôt know the difference. Even ObamaâÄôs own former colleagues say that many of these items donâÄôt really fit in this type of a bill âÄî like Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., admitted on Meet the Press. Obama has the right intentions for this bill, but the wrong solutions. Installing new infrastructure in places of the country that do not have the tax base to support it is an expensive and unsustainable solution to struggling communities. If these cities didnâÄôt have the economic base for new schools and roads before the collapse, there is no reason to believe theyâÄôll be able to support themselves after the short-lived âÄústimulusâÄù honeymoon is complete. In his column in the Washington Post, George Will cites the fact that firms and consumers have been trained to let others make decisions for them âÄî in this case, government. Net investment is tanking like it did during the Depression because investors are playing a âÄúwait and seeâÄù game with bailout-crazy lawmakers. Former presidential candidate and Texas Rep. Ron Paul told CNN the new plan will cost each American $6,700 in new debt, another reason many are skeptical. Vice President Joe Biden warned Friday at the Democrat-only resort and spa weekend retreat that voters may punish them in two years for their decisions to vote on stimulus today. At least somebody is recognizing that the voters still matter. Instead, Congress and the administration ought to focus on grassroots efforts that will keep people in their homes and keep them in the work force. Many lawmakers have produced good ideas worth looking at, but ObamaâÄôs openness to bipartisan ideas has passed. The president again barked at Republicans last week for idea-sharing, asserting that they should back off under the premise that he won the election and they did not. Some of these good ideas include lowering interest rates on mortgages so homeowners can refinance and save money or can more easily purchase a new home. Additionally, the government should lower tax rates on small businesses so they can hire additional workers. This plan doesnâÄôt just miss out on essential pieces to a job creation equation; it sets in place dangerous policies like the possibility of inflation, not to mention running up the national debt by another couple trillion this year. Both of these repercussions would hurt everyone, not just a select few. Obama has used such language as âÄúwe must pass this now, or elseâÄù to encourage swift action on his pork-filled pet project, similar to the scare tactics he once denounced on the campaign trail. Obama spent the weekend at a Democrat-only retreat at a luxury spa outside of Washington. Costing the taxpayers $500,000 , the annual retreat is attended by some of the same Democrats who criticized American International Group for taking corporate retreats. This was also ObamaâÄôs first trip after being inaugurated. Former President Clinton attended a town hall meeting on the economy for his first trip, and George W. Bush visited soldiers in Georgia. President ObamaâÄôs first flight on Air Force One was to the spa, cooking up new ways to spend your money for you with only one party represented in the discussions. But donâÄôt worry, the American people voted for a change in Washington rhetoric, and change is what they will receive. All of this comes as Obama finishes up his third week in the Oval Office with little to show. His inability to properly vet cabinet nominees for simple matters like tax fraud has proven he is not outside the reach of mistakes and is indeed mortal (though he apologized this week). He is making mistakes he promised he wouldnâÄôt make, like writing off bipartisanship and compromise early, and he is realizing other promises he made (like fast action on energy and international relations) are taking a back seat to the economy. I was disappointed to learn of another historical first in the Obama presidency. In January, President Obama became the first Commander-in-Chief to skip the âÄúSalute to Heroes Inaugural BallâÄù on inauguration day. There were hundreds in attendance, including 48 Metal of Honor recipients, awaiting a chance to see the new president. Obama and the First Lady stopped at 10 other balls that night without stopping at this one, which was created over 50 years ago to honor AmericaâÄôs heroes âÄî many of whom were wounded in the line of fire. Obama had no problem making it to the celebrity balls, though. I suppose the guest list with names like Shakira, Jay-Z and the always-thoughtful Kid Rock was too enticing for him to miss. Cheers to you, Mr. President! Andy Post welcomes comments at [email protected]