Home Opinion Editorials Stimulus package misses mark
Stimulus package misses mark
The current recession is not the Great Depression. Just ask anyone who
was there. The current recession is not even a good recession. When
Congress a year ago passed its attempt to spend the United States out
of the recession, a lot of skeptics questioned the wisdom. There still
are as we wait in rural America for a lifting of the economic cloud.
Investment is one thing. But where is the investment in small towns and rural regions? It seems as if more than the fair share of the stimulus money in the $789 billion economic stimulus package is going to the big cities for tunnels and high speed rail and not to small towns and rural regions, where small businesses are hurting and people are out of work. Of course, before the economic stimulus package got the green light, it included something for just about everybody. The gift bag included federal tax cuts. It included expansion of jobless benefits and other social welfare, and spending on education, health care and green energy. All are good causes. But it’s questionable if their primary purpose is preserving jobs or putting more people back to work. The results of those targets for the stimulus money seem questionable.
It also seems as if the whole thing has a long way to go to match the New Deal. That package resulted in the building of airports, bridges, buildings and roads and helped lift the United States out of the Great Depression back in the 1930s.
About $100 billion of the current economic stimulus package was targeted toward public works projects. That’s far short of the $2.2 trillion the American Society of Civil Engineers figures it would cost to put the nation’s infrastructure back into good shape.
A quick scan of Stimulus Watch showed the largest projects locally to be, among others, rest area improvements along Interstate 84, taxiway rehabilitation at the airport, remodeling the Elgin Opera House and repaving of Hunter Road. Needed projects, certainly. But nothing that would put a lot of people back to work.
Not all small towns are missing out, however. In Thedford, Neb., for example, a town of just 168 souls, a $7 million bridge is being built so traffic can pass over a set of busy railroad tracks that carries 60 to 80 trains a day.
That seems extravagant. We would be happy just to see more funds creating jobs locally, funds going to help small towns and small business regain their equilibrium. Productive businesses need more capital to expand capacity and create new jobs.
The government needs to be careful its stimulus packages don’t delay recovery. The original program was said to be designed to save or create 3.5 million jobs. It ended up being more of a grocery list of pet ideas that seems to miss the target of breathing new life into the economy.