A number of thought-provoking articles on the $787 billion stimulus package have been released in recent days, and perhaps the most noteworthy is this Associated Press analysis piece by Matt Apuzzo and Brett Blackledge. The AP reviewed the 5,500-plus planned transportation projects nationwide in response to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and found that the bulk of the spending is going to places with low unemployment.
The AP reviewed $18.9 billion in projects. They account for about half of the money set aside for states and local governments to spend on roads, bridges and infrastructure in the stimulus plan.
The very promise that Obama made, to spend money quickly and create jobs, is locking out many struggling communities needing those jobs.
The money goes to projects ready to start. But many struggling communities don’t have projects waiting. They couldn’t afford the millions of dollars for preparation and plans that often is required.
“It’s not fair,” said Martin Schuller, the borough manager in the Elk County seat of Ridgway, who commiserates about the inequity in highway aid with colleagues in nearby towns. “It’s a joke because we’re not going to get it, because we don’t have any projects ready to go.”
Meanwhile, The New York Times reported that only a very small percentage of ARRA funds have been released so far and the AP has this story on how the Obama administration isn’t backing down from its claim that the stimulus is still on pace to create or save 3.5 millions jobs. As you can read in the NYT article, the administration a few weeks ago said an estimated 150,000 jobs have been saved or created already — although many have questioned that number.