TIME: Stimulus was a success because it was spent on time with little fraud.

Posted on October 1, 2010

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In what is truly a lame definition of success, TIME  speaks out:    

People of good faith can disagree over whether President Obama’s $787 billion stimulus package is creating enough jobs, piling on too much debt, or helping the country in the long run. But it’s about time to retire one set of critiques of the stimulus: that it would be riddled with fraud, hamstrung by delays, and crippled by cost overruns. So far, while the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is clearly not a political success, it is just as clearly a managerial success — on schedule, under budget, and according to independent investigators, remarkably free of fraud. (emphasis mine)    

Yesterday, the administration met its self-imposed deadline of spending 70% of the Recovery Act, or $551 billion, by the end of the fiscal year. Almost all of the unspent stimulus money is already committed to specific projects, except for a few longer-range initiatives like high-speed rail and electronic health records. And the completed work has cost less than expected, so the savings have financed over 3,000 additional projects, from airport improvements in Atlanta to new child-care centers at military bases in Louisiana, North Carolina, Mississippi and Oklahoma, from a new five-lane road in Jacksonville to a $14.5 million transformation of a World War 2 ammunition factory into an eco-friendly government building in St. Louis. (emphasis mine)    

But so far: no indictments, no major scandals, no missed deadlines, no busted budgets. Hey, man: That’s more than good enough for government work.

This is TIME’s criteria for success?  Isn’t doing what they said they were going to do (spending a set amount of money), and doing it on time with as little fraud as possible what we EXPECT of government?  It isn’t something that should be celebrated as a success because it turned out to be an anomaly in the way government normally functions.    

While I expect my child to tell the truth every day, do I trumpet his doing it when he does?  No, because it is something that is expected.  He knows he’s supposed to tell the truth even when it gets him in trouble.  In the same regard, managing a government program successfully (on time, on budget and with as little fraud as possible) is what we EXPECT of the government.  It is something they are supposed to be doing every day.  The trumpeting of this “success” shows just how low our faith in the government’s ability to manage anything it gets its hands on has sunk.    

How about using a different criteria to measure the success of the stimulus law? How about, did it live up to its “hype?”      

After spending $551 billion in under two years to create some kind of “jump start” for the economy,  are we any better off?  Has unemployment dropped significantly?  Are jobs being created and sustained by private business without any additional government support? Are people confident about their prospects for the future?  Those are the criteria against which the stimulus program should be judged, not whether the Federal government can spend money in an alloted time period.    

Posted in: Economy