Big news from Columbus Business First:
The Republican offensive on the state’s plans to use $400 million in federal stimulus funding to develop a trans-Ohio passenger train line has left the station.
Senate President Bill Harris, R-Ashland, in a letter sent to Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland lobbed a host of questions on the proposed 3-C rail system that was awarded $400 million from Congress’ stimulus program last month. Harris wrote he’s seeking answers on behalf of the Republican members of the state Controlling Board, the state body that holds the key to unlocking the funding.[...]
Columbus Business First reported Feb. 12 that approval of the federal stimulus funding will require the yes vote of at least one Republican member of the Controlling Board, on which four Democrats and three Republicans sit. Harris told Business First Republicans inserted a provision in the 2009 state transportation bill requiring a super-majority of five votes for any capital spending on passenger rail to give the GOP leverage.
“Based on what I have learned thus far, I am not convinced that the proposed 3-C rail project put forth by your administration is the best use of our tax dollars,” Harris wrote to Strickland. “I am concerned that considering the tenuous structure of our state budget, Ohio does not have adequate resources to get the 3-C corridor up and running (even with $400 million from the federal government), that we will be unable to afford the cost of operating this service once it is restored, and that the speed and schedule of the trains as presented to date, virtually guarantee that few Ohioans will ride, which will require even greater taxpayer subsidies.”
Here is the full letter:
Marc Kovac posted video of Sen. Harris answering questions about this here.
Even with Amtrack’s obvious bias, they estimate that it would cost Ohio taxpayers at least $17 million/year. Which of course means you can probably multiply that number by 4 or 5 times to get the real number.
Sen. Harris’ questions are simply devastating. Harris wasn’t the Republican Party’s best friend on the state budget, but he deserves praise for this.
I still can’t stop watching this hilariously awkward “Cheerleaders for Failure” video from Marc Kovac (posted Feb. 9), so here it is again. Chooooo-choooooooooo!:
From Mark Niquette and Doug Caruso in The Dispatch:
One year after Congress passed what was intended to be a $787 billion jolt to a reeling economy, at least $2.8 billion has been spent in Ohio so far to preserve jobs and state services, build roads and accomplish a wide range of other purposes.
But as Congress considers a second jobs bill, debate still rages about what this stimulus package is accomplishing. Critics question how the money is being spent at a time of growing federal deficits. They also point out that unemployment has gotten worse since the bill was passed one year ago today.
According to federal statistics, Ohio has lost a net 107,800 jobs since last February, and the state’s jobless rate rose from 9.5 percent to 10.9 percent during that time.
“The economic recovery we were promised has not happened,” said former U.S. Republican Rep. Rob Portman of Cincinnati, a candidate for the U.S. Senate.
But Gov. Ted Strickland and other stimulus supporters insist that the economic picture in Ohio would have been far worse without the stimulus, and that it helped prevent another depression.
“I think a fair-minded person will look at what the stimulus has accomplished, and although unemployment is much too high, they will recognize that unemployment would have been much higher without the stimulus,” the governor said.
That is quiet a claim our governor is making. He is arguing that Ohio would be worse off if the Federal government didn’t confiscate money from the private economy and redirected them in ways that politicians deemed worthy. How many of you believe that? There are millions of unemployed Ohioans who certainly don’t feel very stimulated.
My personal hero from Ohio University said it best:
“I would have rather they had done absolutely nothing at all,” said [Economics Professor] Richard Vedder of Ohio University.
Even if we accept the words of Governor Strickland’s office as gospel, $2,800,000,000 has been spent by Ohio so far and 24,694 jobs have been “created”… whatever the hell that means. That is $113,388/job. Good grief!
In reality, much stimulus dollars in Ohio simply go to subsidize our Medicaid program ($2.8 billion of the $6.4 billion). We could save money there, but Strickland doesn’t want Auditor Taylor to aggressively audit, and politicians dare not tick off the nursing home lobby by supporting cheaper, in home care or by eliminating coverage for certain unnecessary services. This doesn’t “create jobs” and instead keeps Ohio’s bloated entitlements growing at an unsustainable rate, funded by money that comes tied with future spending mandates.
Oh well. At least Ohio is getting a bunch of stupid, 39 MPH slow-ass trains.
According to the Washington Times, yes he is:
Sen. Christopher S. Bond regularly railed against President Obama’s economic stimulus plan as irresponsible spending that would drive up the national debt. But behind the scenes, the Missouri Republican quietly sought more than $50 million from a federal agency for two projects in his state.
Mr. Bond was not alone. More than a dozen Republican lawmakers, while denouncing the stimulus to the media and their constituents, privately sent letters to just one of the federal government’s many agencies seeking stimulus money for home-state pork projects.
The letters to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, expose the gulf between lawmakers’ public criticism of the overall stimulus package and their private lobbying for projects close to home.[...]
Also facing a competitive race, Rep. Pat Tiberi, Ohio Republican, in October called the final Democratic stimulus bill “loaded with [House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi’s grab bag of big spending wishes” and that it “saddles future generations with mountains of debt.”
He struck a different tone in a letter to Mr. Vilsack.
“While this project is intended to expand rural broadband in Alaska, I understand that the project could support businesses and jobs in communities across the country,” Mr. Tiberi wrote, citing one such company in his district.
A spokeswoman for Mr. Tiberi said he is just fighting for jobs in his district.
“Congressman Tiberi didn’t support the stimulus bill, but when it comes down to parts of the bill that are actually going to support jobs, he’s going to come down on the side of supporting businesses and Ohio jobs,” Tiberi spokeswoman Breann Gonzalez said.
His staff gave a longer defense of this nonsense in The Dispatch today, saying essentially that when there is stimulus slop in the trough, he will gladly pig out on his constituents’ behalf.
I suppose it stimulates the sign manufacturers?:
Question: How can House GOP caucus members take this sort of principled hard-line stance against stimulus money, yet be quite comfortable with the 3rd Frontier Renewal? The arguments against both are the same.
From Bill Bush in The Columbus Dispatch:
Columbus City Schools have more than 120 buildings designed for teaching.
But in a three-day effort to teach its teachers, the district is renting banquet halls, high-end hotels and conference centers — using almost $145,000 in federal grant dollars.[...]
The district will pay up to $8,000 to rent Villa Milano, a marble-clad banquet hall with enough “classic elegance” that “you will think you have been transported to a romantic Italian Villa,” according to the hall’s Web site.
Other sites include: the Hyatt Regency ($23,000); the Greater Columbus Convention Center and the Hyatt on Capitol Square ($25,000 each); the Quest Business and Conference Center at Polaris ($17,000); and the Aladdin Temple near Easton ($12,500).
The district will pay the speakers more than $1.4 million in federal stimulus money, part of $64.2 million that Columbus schools have been awarded from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
One company, the International Center for Leadership in Education, will receive $468,258.
Sheridan WorldWise, a company run by former Columbus school board President Dave Dobos, will collect $84,500 to give several presentations. He will talk about the college-admissions process and the SAT and ACT exams, while other WorldWise-affiliated speakers will talk on other subjects.
I really feel for Spokesbabe Kim Norris, as this story is in addition to the Obama Administration using fuzzy numbers with “saved or created” jobs at Columbus schools.
And this is a perfect example as to why dumping piles of money on Ohio schools is NOT the answer to our state’s educational problems… as educrats will always find new, creative ways to waste your money.
And in Ohio, the fuzzy Obama math continues:
The Obama administration announced Friday that federal stimulus money had created or saved about 7,200 education jobs in Ohio as of Sept. 30.
Although a couple of hundred of those jobs were in Columbus City Schools, the district acknowledged yesterday that many of the “saved” jobs definitely wouldn’t have been lost in the first place, and others might not have been lost at all.
Of the 212.5 full-time equivalent jobs the district said were funded with part of the $64 million in stimulus it expects to receive, about 65 percent were “saved,” including 36 principals and assistant principals.
So was the district on the verge of laying off 36 school administrators?
“No,” Dannemiller said, explaining that the reporting choices were “created” and “saved.”
“They weren’t ‘created,’ obviously, so our only other choice was ’saved.’ ”
The federal Office of Management and Budget told agencies in June to define a “saved” job as “an existing position that would not have been continued to be filled were it not for Recovery Act funding.
And the same sort of logic is used in this NBC 3 Cleveland report, which, without question, buys Gov. Strickland’s claim of grant dollars (corporate welfare) creating or saving jobs:
COLUMBUS — Ohio Governor Ted Strickland announced more than $1 million in funding for economic development projects in the City of Cleveland that are expected to create 40 and retain 625 jobs.
The projects were approved today by the State Controlling Board.
“We are making strategic investments in Ohio communities and businesses to retain jobs and to advance urban redevelopment efforts,” Strickland said.
Flats East Development LLC will receive a $1 million Rapid Outreach Grant for the costs associated with building construction in support of the company’s redevelopment project in the City of Cleveland (Cuyahoga County).
Flats East Development was created in 2005 to lead the redevelopment of 23 acres along the East bank of the Cuyahoga River in downtown Cleveland.
This $250 million project is expected to retain 625 positions.
AIM Pharmakon, Inc. will receive a $50,000 Rapid Outreach Grant for the costs associated with the acquisition of machinery and equipment in support of the company’s project in the City of Cleveland.
AIM offers an array of niche marketing, branding, and sales consulting services for facilitating pharmaceutical commerce. This $1 million project is expected to create 40 jobs.
It could be entirely correct that stimulus and grant dollars created specific jobs or artificially prolonged someones employment. However, not only is this an inefficient use of resources, these are dollars taken out of the economy from elsewhere- ie., your and your employer’s pockets.
As Henr Hazlitt explained in his classic economics book from 1946, Economics in One Lesson:
I am here concerned with public works considered as a means of “providing employment” or of adding wealth to the community that it would not otherwise have had.
A bridge is built. If it is built to meet an insistent public demand, if it solves a traffic problem or a transportation problem otherwise insoluble, if, in short, it is even more necessary to the taxpayers collectively than the things for which they would have individually spent their money had it had not been taxed away from them, there can be no objection. But a bridge built primarily “to provide employment” is a different kind of bridge. When providing employment becomes the end, need becomes a subordinate consideration. “Projects” have to be invented. Instead of thinking only of where bridges must be built the government spenders begin to ask themselves where bridges can be built. Can they think of plausible reasons why an additional bridge should connect Easton and Weston? It soon becomes absolutely essential. Those who doubt the necessity are dismissed as obstructionists and reactionaries.
Two arguments are put forward for the bridge, one of which is mainly heard before it is built, the other of which is mainly heard after it has been completed. The first argument is that it will provide employment. It will provide, say, 500 jobs for a year. The implication is that these are jobs that would not otherwise have come into existence.
This is what is immediately seen. But if we have trained ourselves to look beyond immediate to secondary consequences, and beyond those who are directly benefited by a government project to others who are indirectly affected, a different picture presents itself. It is true that a particular group of bridgeworkers may receive more employment than otherwise. But the bridge has to be paid for out of taxes. For every dollar that is spent on the bridge a dollar will be taken away from taxpayers. If the bridge costs $10 million the taxpayers will lose $10 million. They will have that much taken away from them which they would otherwise have spent on the things they needed most.
Therefore, for every public job created by the bridge project a private job has been destroyed somewhere else. We can see the men employed on the bridge. We can watch them at work. The employment argument of the government spenders becomes vivid, and probably for most people convincing. But there are other things that we do not see, because, alas, they have never been permitted to come into existence. They are the jobs destroyed by the $10 million taken from the taxpayers. All that has happened, at best, is that there has been a diversion of jobs because of the project. More bridge builders; fewer automobile workers, television technicians, clothing workers, farmers.
But then we come to the second argument. The bridge exists. It is, let us suppose, a beautiful and not an ugly bridge. It has come into being through the magic of government spending. Where would it have been if the obstructionists and the reactionaries had had their way? There would have been no bridge. The country would have been just that much poorer. Here again the government spenders have the better of the argument with all those who cannot see beyond the immediate range of their physical eyes. They can see the bridge. But if they have taught themselves to look for indirect as well as direct consequences they can once more see in the eye of imagination the possibilities that have never been allowed to come into existence. They can see the unbuilt homes, the unmade cars and washing machines, the unmade dresses and coats, perhaps the ungrown and unsold foodstuffs. To see these uncreated things requires a kind of imagination that not many people have. We can think of these nonexistent objects once, perhaps, but we cannot keep them before our minds as we can the bridge that we pass every working day. What has happened is merely that one thing has been created instead of others.
It doesn’t matter if we are talking about giving ObamaBucks to inefficient public schools or if Gov. Strickland cuts a check to contractors to rebuild part of the Cleveland Flats, this is a redirection of resources taken by force. Therefore, this claimed job creation and retention is only at the cost of destroying jobs and potential investment elsewhere.
However, if they media is going to take the Obama Administration’s ridiculous numbers seriously, perhaps they should mention that, according to Recovery.gov, Ohio has had fewer “created or saved” jobs than Puerto Rico.
$288,000 to help snot-nosed students find their locker.