Bunker-style concrete toilets, doles to delayed or bankrupt green energy start-ups, $30 million for a spring training home for the Arizona Diamondbacks, and — the irony — an $18 million redesign for the recovery.com website so the government can spin its own version of how successful the program has been: Here’s the predominant legacy of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Sure, States have received millions upon millions of dollars in ARRA project funds for roads, bridges and “public works,” many of which are just now coming up for construction bids.
But that’s just an extension of an already-backward carrot-and-stick relationship between the Federal government and the States, all of which are beholden more than ever before to the Feds for conditional funding and more powerless than ever before to assume Constitutionally unenumerated sovereign prerogatives that Washington lapped up long ago.
Even Texas, for all its leaders’ cock-and-bull about standing up to the executive branch, is as guilty as any State when it comes to cheating on the 10th Amendment when the Federal-funding mistress comes calling. Only California and New York have taken more ARRA stimulus money.
A new story published by Reason dismantles the Obama Administration’s assertion that ARRA has created lasting jobs and that the nearly $1 trillion invested in the President’s first-term economic stimulus plan is showing economic dividends that outlive the lifespan of the short-term projects it helped fund. A survey of businesses that accepted ARRA funds or contracts found that seven of every 10 companies either didn’t hire workers or ended up having to lay off the ones they did hire:
We found that only 41 percent of the companies that received stimulus grants or contracts actually hired workers for the relevant project. The other 59 percent either hired no workers for the stimulus project or reduced their payrolls because they couldn’t afford to retain all their staff even with the stimulus money coming in.
Within the 41 percent of companies that did hire workers, the survey found that 55 percent kept all their workers once the project was done. But 30 percent were…forced to lay off workers once the government money stopped flowing. Another 15 percent of companies hired workers but couldn’t retain all of them. These findings suggest that ARRA did not create much lasting employment among firms that received grants or contracts for stimulus projects.
Look closely at Edward Tufte’s “Lights-On” map of America, an Obama Administration bauble that purports to impress the eye with a graphic representation of where every ARRA-stimulated project across the fruited plain is located. If you squint, all those little shiny lights start to look like a birds-eye view of 831 billion little dollar signs, now scattered to the four winds.