The Corner

Stimulus Still Creating Jobs?

According to USA Today, a newly released CBO report finds that while the stimulus may not have created many jobs in that first year out of the shoot, it continues to have a significant effect on the economy today, largely thanks to transfers to state and local governments. Huzzah for the stimulus — let’s do it again!

What the paper leaves out: One reason this might be true is that the administration’s ditherings delayed the implementation of many projects to make sure their union patrons would benefit to the fullest extent possible. The home-weatherization stuff didn’t start until after the recession was over, while the feds worked on setting up a prevailing wage for such jobs. Never mind that this restriction meant that fewer homes would be weatherized and thus fewer people would be employed, or that the value of the project was dubious to begin with — Kevin Hassett pointed out that weatherization doesn’t do much unless there is a holistic approach to such an endeavor, which was beyond the government’s ability or inclination. The important thing was that the people who got these nearly economically worthless jobs were paid a handsome sum and could pay dues to a union.

It’s a manifestation of a key truism of Democratic politics: They want to do the right thing, but only as long as their constituencies are taken care of first. Look what happens in an entirely Democratic environment: the 2008 DNC. Someone wants to order baseball hats for the attendees and he’s told to find the low-cost supplier — as long as it is made in the USA, by union workers, using organic cotton. Naturally, no such thing exists — since no one but a dyed-in-the-wool Fabian socialist member of the Democratic party would insist on such inane requirements.

The particulars of the convention do give us a hint as to what might be the Democrats’ next move: At the convention, 900 volunteers were assigned to the Trash Brigade, which means they hovered near each garbage can and recycling bin to make sure that waste was disposed of properly. I can’t believe the greatest country on earth, that sent a man to the moon, cannot afford to hire 6 million unemployed workers to make sure that people everywhere are correctly sorting their recyclables and composting when practical . . .

— Ike Brannon is director of economic policy and director of congressional relations for the American Action Forum.

Ike Brannon is a nonresident fellow at the Cato Institute.

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