I'm usually really excited to wake up Sunday, read the paper, watch Meet The Press, and absorb all the new information that's going to come out. There are times though when my political Sunday is kinda a let down. Kinda like the last week of the NFL season. Unfortunately, I have a feeling this is going to be one of those weeks.
I know exactly what's going to be said tomorrow. Jobs. Everything and anything about jobs, or rather, lack there of. In December 85,000 jobs were lost and the unemployment rate stayed at 10%. There's no way around it, it's very bad out there. Businesses are forced to cut back, and families are being forced to make extremely tough decisions such as between buying health insurance or food. Now the President and Congress are talking about passing a jobs bill which they hope (hope!), will create more opportunities for companies to hire.
Most economists are saying things are going to get worse before they get better. But of course a recent piece pulitzer prize winning economist (Paul Krugman) said: "The next employment report could show the economy adding jobs for the first time in two years." So what do they know? And as for Republicans, all they can do is say the Democrats $275 billion stimulus package isn't working. But when I looked to find out what that money was doing, it turns out its just sitting there.
According to Recovery.gov, as of October 30th 2009, only $19 billion of the stimulus packaged has been spent, but over $158 billion has been rewarded. Only 13% of the money has been given to the states. Wyoming has been awarded over $476 million, but has only received a little over $60 million. California (the state with the most fiscal trouble right now) was awarded over $18 billion, but has only received a little over $8 billion.
So for all you fiscal hawks out there, stop complaining. While the money has been allocated it hasn't gone anywhere yet. Why? Who knows. I'm sure if you ask any member of Congress (well, maybe not McCain) they will be more then happy to get some of that money for their constituents.
My advice: spend the money! Banks aren't lending, and as we learned from the Great Depression, the government needs to be the one that creates the demand to spur economic growth. There are arguments out there that another stimulus needs to be passed. But let's wait and see what this one is actually able to accomplish. Considering our infrastructure needs a lot of work, I'm willing to bet there are plenty of roads, bridges, and highways that can use some sprucing up.
Since health care took up so much of Congress' time this year, people are frustrated they cannot see any tangible results from the stimulus or anything else. Democrats had a mandate to do something and while they can legitimately claim they got things done, none of it has taken effect yet. There have been tours here and there touting where the stimulus money has been spent (including minority leader John Boehner's district), but more needs to be done. With all the families struggling out there they need to hear it's going to get better.
From the money that had been spent, Democrats can legitimately claim it created jobs. So show me the money!