Economics

Joe Biden's Stimulus Fantasies

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Vice President Joe Biden, the czar of overseeing how stimulus funds gets doled out and tracked, is praising his administration's action on the matter. In a recent speech, America's No. 1 Amtrak booster proclaimed:

"The Recovery Act is doing more, faster and more efficiently and more effectively than most people expected."

This, despite the dribble-down-the-chin pace of actual stimulus spending (including direct spending and tax relief, about $151 billion of the proposed $787 billion has gone out the door so far). And significant questions about how and where the money is deployed.

So the AP reports that Biden is happy that some 192 airports have received stimulus dollars but silent about the "50 airport projects that didn't meet the grant criteria and approved projects at four airports with a history of mismanaging federal grants." Similarly, Biden boasted of spending on military bases even as the AP reports

The Defense Department frequently awards no-bid work to small contractors for repairs at military bases under the stimulus, costing taxpayers millions of dollars more than when businesses compete for the work.

Well, any spending is good spending, right, especially in a stimulus situation (Waiter, another lobster!)? And then there's the highway projects, those shovel-ready behemoths that Biden is confident are keeping us safe as we travel, right?

"It is worthwhile to take some of those 5,000 bridges out there that are ready to collapse, follow what happened in the upper Midwest, and fix them," [Biden] said.

But most states are spending stimulus money on bridges that are already in good shape, another AP analysis found. Of the 2,476 bridges scheduled to receive stimulus money so far, nearly half have passed inspections with high marks, according to federal data. Those 1,123 sound bridges received such high inspection ratings that they normally would not qualify for federal bridge money, yet they will share in more than $1.2 billion in stimulus money, the AP analysis published in July found.

That all sounds really great and stimulative and wonderful. And yet, even Biden cannot fully believe that the stimulus won't end up being reckoned to be little more than a massive boondoggle.

[Biden] took a more cautious approach…when asked if his declaration of stimulus success means Americans can now rethink the common view that government is wasteful and inefficient.

"I think it's too early to make that decision, to be very blunt about it," he said.

Full report from AP here.

And don't forget to ask: Can stimulus spending work as intended, under the best-case scenario?

From Reason.tv's vault: Joe Biden, Real Man of Political Genius: