Baloney vs. stark reality
It was nearly three years ago, June 2010, that the Obama administration billed the coming season as “Recovery Summer.”
To pump up the administration's hot-air balloon of optimism about an economic turnaround that supposedly was just around the corner, President Obama flew to Columbus, Ohio, to do a photo op with workers in hard hats and to celebrate the groundbreaking of a “shovel-ready,” stimulus-financed highway project.
Actually, the shovels were never “ready.” The president's visit to Columbus came nearly a year and a half after the $787 billion stimulus bill was signed into law.
“Stimulus-financed construction is set to explode this summer: 10,700 highway projects should be under way next month, up from just 1,750 last July,” reported The New York Times on June 18, 2010. “States expect to weatherize 82,000 homes this summer — 27 times the number of homes that were weatherized last summer, when the program got off to a slow start. And there will be 2,828 clean-water projects under construction, a twentyfold increase over last year.”
I suppose it's not all bad that people in 82,000 houses got their windows caulked for nothing during Recovery Summer. That's better than if the government had spent the money on drones to spy on gun clubs.
The free caulking and duct tape program was funded by a $5 billion supplemental appropriation in the stimulus bill for the Department of Energy's Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP).
To qualify, WAP recipients had to have incomes at or below 200 percent of the government-established poverty line.
We're now way past the 82,000 houses that were to be federally weatherized during the Recovery Summer of 2010. In September 2012, the Department of Energy celebrated the weatherization of the 1 millionth home.
Joining the celebration, the Center for American Progress (“Progressive Ideas for a Strong, Just and Free America”) said that those truckloads of complimentary Fiberglas, duct tape and caulking were “a key part of the strategy to jump-start the economy” plus “it helps avoid the most catastrophic consequences of climate change.”
If they spent $5 billion to weatherize a million houses, that's an average of $5,000 per retrofitted residence, and federal reports show that people in another 37 million residences are income eligible to receive the federally supplied weatherization.
The Department of Energy stated that recipients of the weatherization program would save an average of $1.10 a day on their energy bills, or enough to buy almost half of a super-sized sugary drink, except they're becoming illegal.
Nearly three years since Recovery Summer, we're $16.8 trillion in the hole, the median household income is lower than in 2010, we're stuck in a jobs depression, one in six Americans is living in poverty and millions of workers have gone missing from the workforce.
“The Labor Department reported that the U.S. labor force — everyone who has a job or is looking for one — shrank by 500,000 people in March,” reported The Washington Post on April 6. “That brought the civilian labor force participation rate to 63.3 percent in March, its lowest level since May 1979.”
Bottom line: There was no Recovery Summer and we're still going backward. GDP growth in the last quarter of 2012 was a near-nothing 0.4 percent, down from the anemic growth rates of 1.8 percent in 2011 and 2.2 percent in all of 2012.
Ralph R. Reiland is an associate professor of economics at Robert Morris University and a local restaurateur. Email him at: email@example.com
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Vermont’s Sanders considers run for president
- Steelers not receiving big returns on their offseason investments
- ‘Racy’ emails could stay hidden under Pennsylvania open records law
- McKeesport won’t waver after shutout loss to Penn-Trafford
- Rossi: Given start, it’s time for Pitt to finish
- Steelers intrigued by athleticism of free agent Jones
- Ambitious few are turning lighthouses into living spaces
- Rare triple play sparks Pirates’ comeback victory over Cubs
- Man accidentally shoots himself in North Point Breeze
- LaBar: WWE needs to pick its starter wisely
- Federal statistics raise red flags about America’s growing diabetes crisis