Archive for September 19th, 2010

Obama’s Great Leap Forward

September 19, 2010

The White House released a report entitled “100 Recovery Act Projects That Are Changing America” to counter criticism of the stimulus as a failure. Vice President Joe Biden said,

“With Recovery Act projects like these, we’re starting to turn the page on a decade of failed economic policies and rebuild our economy on a new foundation that creates good middle class jobs for American families.”

And the Vice President is spot on. The Recovery Act has created some great jobs.

The report covers some $7.5 billion spent to create about 27,400 jobs — as best as can be gleaned from the report, including giving the projects the benefit of doubt when the jobs figures are unclear.

That works out to about $273,723 per job.

The top ten egregious projects described in the report are:

  1. $4.38 million/job to build an elevated highway in Tampa, Florida. (Project #14 in the report)
  2. $3.67 million/job to rehabilitate the 107-year old Atlantic Avenue Viaduct in New York City. (Project #27)
  3. $2.91 million/job to provide broadband service in western Kansas. (Project #38)
  4. $1.87 million/job to seismically retrofit the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. (Project #37)
  5. $1.46 million/job to rehabilitate the Staten Island Ferry Terminal. (Project #19)
  6. $1.39 million/job to install smart meters in Chattanooga, TN. (Project #51)
  7. $1.02 million/job to conduct cancer research. (Project #2)
  8. $985,000/job to install solar panels at the Denver Federal Center. (Project #41)
  9. $967,000/job to build houses/roads in Nevada County, CA. (Project #30)
  10. $940,000/job to widen I-94 in Wisconsin. (Project #10)

Applying the outrageous average cost/job for these 100 projects to the $787 billion stimulus plan means that the Recovery Act should have produced 2.88 million jobs. However since the Recovery Act, we’ve actually lost about 2.5 million jobs.

Recovery Act? Indeed. The nomenclature is reminiscent of Chairman Mao’s own “recovery” program — the Great Leap Forward.