| Opinion/The Review

Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Baloney vs. stark reality

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.

Letters home ...

Traveling abroad for personal, educational or professional reasons?

Why not share your impressions — and those of residents of foreign countries about the United States — with Trib readers in 150 words?

The world's a big place. Bring it home with Letters Home.

Contact Colin McNickle (412-320-7836 or

Daily Photo Galleries

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Sunday, April 14, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

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:

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.



Show commenting policy

Most-Read Stories

  1. Steelers RB Archer trying to catch up after tough rookie season
  2. Steelers LB Timmons has grown into leadership role on defense
  3. Steelers notebook: Backup QB Gradkowski remains out with shoulder issue
  4. Pirates third baseman Ramirez’s last ride is about winning a ring
  5. Consol takes $603 million loss in second quarter
  6. Rising East Liberty out of reach for Pittsburgh’s poor
  7. Dollars and sense: High cost of child care keeps many out of work force
  8. Former Cal U football player cleared of assault charges sues university, police, prosecutor
  9. Pa. House speaker says overriding Wolf’s budget veto ‘an option’
  10. Medical pot has advocate in Pennsylvania House
  11. Watering garden right during summer’s high temperatures makes difference