Report: Obama to tell us some jobs are shovel-ready, after all

President Obama, late September 2010, to the New York Times: “[T]here’s no such thing as shovel-ready projects” when it comes to public works.

President Obama, about a year earlier (off the record to the Times’ David Brooks): “Shovel-ready jobs” don’t exist.

President Obama, June 13, 2011, at a meeting of his jobs council: “Shovel-ready was not as…uh…shovel-ready as we expected.”

CBS News, August 27, 2011, in a report on President Obama’s forthcoming plan to boost job creation:

The President wants to spend big on the nation’s roads and bridges, starting with a two-year, $109 billion spending package that’s been stalled between the House and the Senate — but which he argues — will put tens of thousands of people back to work quickly. (emphasis added)

How much is $109 billion over two years — and how much impact is it likely to have? Well, the 2009 stimulus has disbursed $20.9 billion toward infrastructure, with the number of jobs created as a result peaking at 30,597 in the third quarter of 2010, according to Recovery.gov. (It’s now at 23,109.)

How’s that working out for you?

Do you think the president will explain why the shovels are standing at the ready this time, or (my prediction) will he just act as if he never said all those things in the past?

Note: This post has been edited to correct the spending information from Recovery.gov.

– By Kyle Wingfield

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140 comments Add your comment

Rafe Hollister

August 29th, 2011
12:52 pm

More ideology from Obama and nothing that will help the economy. This is an ideological depression we are experiencing. He knows that less government spending, more tax relief, less regulation will get us out of this hole, but that would repudiate what he has been telling us since 2008.

He wants to be right more than he wants to be successful.

JDW

August 29th, 2011
12:53 pm

Hey Kyle, you missed some of the article. For example while you poo-poo the whole “shovel ready” bit you forgot to mention this…

“When Moody’s studied the 2009 stimulus package, infrastructure spending rated high. For every dollar spent, $1.44 was returned to the economy. Infrastructure projects have a large bang for the buck because they employ a lot of people, they require a lot of material and inputs, so a lot of economic activity is generated by those projects,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s.”

Of course we all know that our nations bridges and roads don’t need any work Just speed up when you go under the bridges (17th Street for example) and maybe the falling debris won’t hit you. Besides, aren’t all those potholes good for the economy…the auto repair industry loves them.

Rafe Hollister

August 29th, 2011
12:54 pm

There is one shovel ready job ahead of us Kyle, burying Obama in 2012.

Rafe Hollister

August 29th, 2011
12:59 pm

JDW, the 17th Street Bridge was recently built, obviously shoddy work, as it is falling apart. More government efficiency needed not more money to spend.

JF McNamara

August 29th, 2011
1:04 pm

We could always just cut taxes.

Get on with it

August 29th, 2011
1:11 pm

Regulations, regulations, regulations. Get rid of regulations, get rid of Obama Care, get rid of political interests and them hiring their own friends for their stimulus government run offices and you will see the economy come back.

Government does not create jobs, shovel ready or not. The business world creates jobs and the government red tape, not knowing what Obama Care and the new 106,000 regulations that will come into affect because of Obama Care are what is keeping jobs from coming back. That and the fact that this government pays companies to take jobs overseas by over taxing these companies with the regulations its unreal. If anyone thinks Im joking Im not. This is being done on purpose, dont tell me its not.

joe

August 29th, 2011
1:13 pm

He’ll never admit to saying that, just like he never admitted saying raising the debt limit was “un-American” as a member of congress in 2006…he has selective amnesia no doubt! If you need a job or a better job, vote him out in 2012..otherwise, prepare to struggle for another 4 years.

Kyle Wingfield

August 29th, 2011
1:13 pm

Yep, JDW, I did leave that part out — because, as I’ve explained on here numerous times, those estimates rely on the same kinds of econometric models that told us the stimulus would keep unemployment below 8 percent.

These models measure inputs, not outcomes, and assume that a given amount of input will produce a given amount of output.

Kyle Wingfield

August 29th, 2011
1:14 pm

If the inputs don’t produce such outputs, for whatever reason, those models won’t tell us so.

MarkV

August 29th, 2011
1:17 pm

Kyle,
Are you really that shallow-minded, to write a column based on the non-issue of an expression? The President, just like everybody, sometimes uses the common expression ”shovel-ready” to indicate projects that are ready in the sense of an immediate need, while at other time speaks about the reality that there is always a delay between appropriation of the money and getting everything ready for the “shovels” to start moving. Think how often you are guilty of the same in your life. Or is the purpose of your column just to give the usual jackals a reason to start insulting the President?

War Eagle

August 29th, 2011
1:21 pm

The only shovel ready job is the remainder of what is left after one of his teleprompter speeches. In 2012, Let’s bury him and the other Taxo crats who want to give freedoms to the illegals for making it over here. Then we can bury hamas and their terrorists.

JDW

August 29th, 2011
1:22 pm

BTW, Kyle, lets talk more good news. Have you noticed the economic news since the Repugnican induced Debt Ceiling “Crisis” has been trending up. For example:

New jobs in July 117,000 to the good…compare that with the last month of Duhbya’s reign…598,000 jobs LOST.

Consumer confidence up from 57.6 to 59.5. I know still low but when you compare it to end of the last Republican Administration…when it hit a NEW ALL TIME LOW of 38 it seems like Happy Days Are Here Again.

Noticed Consumer Spending rose .8% last month. Gallup says that equates to $74 in spending per capita up from $64 in January of 2009 or an increase of 15%+

And finally the stock market. S&P is at about 1200 right now that is up around 9% from the “Crisis” lows and a staggering 60% since January of 2009.

Tell me again why we should go back to the days of Repugnican rule?

JKL2

August 29th, 2011
1:22 pm

When you hear “shovel ready” just think payoffs for friends and family. It doesn’t matter if anything gets accomplished as long as somebody gets paid.

mike

August 29th, 2011
1:24 pm

And what exactly have you or your fellow party members have done to create jobs? In the state of Georgia the only ones who have gotten jobs as been the governor’s family. One thing about all this, people have to learn to adjust and compromise. Considering the last couple of years, that is something the repubs and those tea people know nothing about. From here on, I have better things to do than read this dribble everyday.

Dan

August 29th, 2011
1:25 pm

Shouldn’t that be shovel ready Number 2, in honor of what they are shoveling

meno

August 29th, 2011
1:28 pm

JDW you should know Kyle’s like every other con–only that information that supports what they already believe counts. Either that or Kyle’s position is that surely, if info led to a bad conclusion before then it, in no way, can be thought of as reliable ever.

Truth Squad

August 29th, 2011
1:35 pm

Gee, why no mention of Republican obstruction to full implementation of the stimulus? We know that more people would be working on projects in states such as Florida, New Jersey, and Ohio, but for their Republican governors.

The bottom line is this country needs to modernize it’s infrastructure for the 21st Century. The more Republicans obstruct, the worse they will do in 2012. There is zero reason why the United States of America should not have the best best infrastructure on the planet. Laugh at “shovel-ready” if you’d like, but laughing isn’t enough, you must explain why Republicans can’t seem to be able to get anything but more roads, and toll roads built when this country faces greater infrastructure needs.

Infrastructure use to be a bipartisan effort since there are no such thing as Republican bridges, or Democratic levees. To think that Republicans are ok letting school buses ride over bridges that are crumbling is unconscionable.

The American people know that budget cuts do not produce addition jobs, they kill jobs. Almost every family has a story where budget cuts lead to unemployment for someone in that family. The government taking money out of the economy now will only hurt the economy and it will not matter which party holds the presidency as it will require a huge stimulus to keep us out of the Depression.

JDW

August 29th, 2011
1:36 pm

Kyle wrote, “These models measure inputs, not outcomes, and assume that a given amount of input will produce a given amount of output.”

Not sure you are right on this one, the quote is WAS returned not ESTIMATED but no matter. Here is some info on MEASURING RESULTS:

“A recent study by Alan Blinder, the president of Bill Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisers, and Mark Zandi, the co-founder of Moody’s Economy.com, simulated the “macroeconomic effects of the government’s total policy response” to the recent economic downturn and found that “the effects of the fiscal stimulus alone appear very substantial, raising 2010 real GDP by about 3.4%, holding the unemployment rate about 1½ percentage points lower, and adding almost 2.7 million jobs to U.S. payrolls.”

http://www.economy.com/mark-zandi/documents/End-of-Great-Recession.pdf

Of course the way you measure results in this case is to simulate the effect. While you may not like that approach, mostly I suspect because you don’t like the results, it works. Don’t believe it…check out my 1:22 post for more empirical evidence.

getalife

August 29th, 2011
1:37 pm

Kyle,

How about acting like an American and write your party should work with our President to focus on recovering the 15 million jobs w lost.

After we recover those jobs, you get your cuts. Not SS and Medicare.

Deal?

Kyle Wingfield

August 29th, 2011
1:38 pm

JDW: I think all you really did @ 1:22 is refute the idea that the debt-ceiling brinkmanship itself somehow damaged the economy.

MarkV: And are you really that willing to ignore the difference between the reason given for the new infrastructure spending — to create new jobs quickly — and what you just wrote?

meno: LOL at your 1:28, given what I wrote about the models we’re talking about.

Kyle Wingfield

August 29th, 2011
1:45 pm

JDW: In that very document you link at 1:36 — which I re-consulted before writing my OP — Zandi and Blinder explain that their findings, including the ones you listed specifically, are based on modeling and not measuring results (from page 4):

“Quantifying the economic impact

“To quantify the economic impacts of the fiscal stimulus and the financial-market policies such as the TARP and the Fed’s quantitative easing, we simulated the Moody’s Analytics’ model of the U.S. economy under four scenarios….

“Estimating the economic impact of the policies is not an accounting exercise, but an econometric one. It is not feasible to identify and count each job created or saved by these policies. Rather, outcomes for employment and other activity must be estimated using a statistical representation of the economy based on historical relationships, such as the Moody’s Analytics model.”

I do not doubt the inherent difficulty of “identify[ing] and count[ing] each job created” by policies like the stimulus. Here’s what I do have a problem with: People who treat these simulations as the concrete, final word on the matter as opposed to an estimate.

An estimate, I might add, that doesn’t much persuade those still struggling in the allegedly stimulated real economy that the stimulus was a roaring success.

Darwin

August 29th, 2011
1:47 pm

Government does not create jobs? Tell that to the workers out at the Lockheed Martin plant.

JDW

August 29th, 2011
1:50 pm

Kyle wrote,” I think all you really did @ 1:22 is refute the idea that the debt-ceiling brinkmanship itself somehow damaged the economy.”

Now see I think I made the point that Republicans led by Duhyba decimated the economy and after a lot of hard work it is in recovery. A recovery that was delayed by the recent Republican created “crisis”.

However the hole that was dug by the end of Duhbya was quite large and despite the significant progress we are at best halfway home.

I say again why would we entrust the same people with the same ideas to take us back to the same place?

getalife

August 29th, 2011
1:52 pm

Spin it Kyle.

Write the gop should work with our President and the cons will come to scream at you.

That is American politics today.

Bradley

August 29th, 2011
1:54 pm

Kyle, do you not think it’s important to invest in America’s crumbling infrastructure, or only when it’s not a black democratic president doing it?

getalife

August 29th, 2011
1:56 pm

Nation build America instead of Afghanistan and Iraq.

There is a good idea.

Kyle Wingfield

August 29th, 2011
1:56 pm

Bradley: What I wrote is that the recent past indicates doing so is not a very effective way of boosting employment and the economy.

Whether some specific infrastructure projects have merit is a different question.

Kyle Wingfield

August 29th, 2011
1:58 pm

getalife: Why not say the president should work with the GOP on its agenda? Wait, lemme guess…

getalife

August 29th, 2011
2:00 pm

Kyle,

Um, because he is a Dem President.

JDW

August 29th, 2011
2:00 pm

Kyle wrote,

“I do not doubt the inherent difficulty of “identify[ing] and count[ing] each job created” by policies like the stimulus. Here’s what I do have a problem with: People who treat these simulations as the concrete, final word on the matter as opposed to an estimate.”

No what you do is ignore the estimate all together and then impugn the very methods that created the benefit, in this case the stimulus. Do we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the program increased the GDP exactly 3.4% and added precisely 2.7 million jobs…no. Do we know that +/- 10% that is in the ballpark…yes. However in spite of that you would and have ignored the estimate altogether and continue to try and create the illusion that the program was an utter failure.

And then you say stuff like this…

“An estimate, I might add, that doesn’t much persuade those still struggling in the allegedly stimulated real economy that the stimulus was a roaring success.”

See you leave out the part where Republicans left us in the toilet in 2008 and great strides have been made since then. Instead you continue to pound on the fact that we are not fully recovered. True enough, but we are recovering which is a damn sight better than sitting on our hands and doing nothing would accomplish.

Instead you support the idea of trusting the same people with the same ideas that got us into this fix doing the same thing all over again.

Hillbilly D

August 29th, 2011
2:01 pm

What the powers that be should do is just tell the truth. We’re in for a bumpy ride the next several years. Might as well deal with it.

getalife

August 29th, 2011
2:03 pm

Kyle,

Did you forget he crushed mcain and won?.

He wants to focus on recovering the 15 million jobs lost in the w collapse.

Write the gop should work with him.

Focus on jobs.

JDW

August 29th, 2011
2:03 pm

@Kyle…see you did it again “:Bradley: What I wrote is that the recent past indicates doing so is not a very effective way of boosting employment and the economy.”

In fact the recent past indicates that +/- 10% the method grew GDP an extra 3.4% and added 2.7 million jobs.

saywhat?

August 29th, 2011
2:04 pm

getalife: Why not say the president should work with the GOP on its agenda? Wait, lemme guess…

OOOOH! OOOOH ! I can answer that one! Because the GOP agenda sent the economy into the toilet in the first place?

saywhat?

August 29th, 2011
2:05 pm

too slow. getalife came up with the answer first.

getalife

August 29th, 2011
2:07 pm

“Because the GOP agenda sent the economy into the toilet in the first place?”

Much better than mine.

Out of here.

Bradley

August 29th, 2011
2:10 pm

Kyle, It’s not a silver bullet, but you can’t tell me it won’t help in the least bit. A $109B will help employment a little, but more importantly it will keep people working in that field employed and it helps solve our nation’s failing infrastructure situation. It’s a win-win… or do you think ir would be better to free that $ up for greedy corporate America so they can continue to sit on profits and not hire?

Kyle Wingfield

August 29th, 2011
2:18 pm

getalife: Right, I forgot — the 2010 elections never happened.

Bradley: Of course I can’t say it “won’t help in the least bit.” Of course there will be *some* impact if $109 billion is spent. The question is whether that’s the best use of the money — both in terms of encouraging jobs/economic growth specifically, and in the bigger picture as well — right now. I think it isn’t.

The General Feeling

August 29th, 2011
2:23 pm

Okay, so it’s a win win. So just do the dang work we expect you to do instead of telling us it’s stimulus or revovery and it’s gonna create or save a gazillion jobs. The federal government is charged with building and maintaiing our country’s infrastructure in the name of national commerce…. so just do your dang jobs and STFU.

I don’t tell cry out every time I make a widget.

Road Scholar

August 29th, 2011
2:28 pm

Since you have vision to a parallel universe that says the stimulus didn’t work, please provide what would have happened w/o the stimulus. I agree that it did not reduce unemployment to 8 %. But what would the unemployment rate have been? Especially if all those already employed workers who worked on these stmulus projects were fired or laid off due to no projects?
Yes, just maybe the economy was in worse shape than ESTIMATED! Can you prove the estimate was sound? Based on whatever model you chose? An estimate is an educated guess!

In the past most, if not all the recessions were marked by increased public works funding which proved successful for the economy, if not lowering the unemployment rate. Would you rather spend money on unemploymnt benefits for an extended time periods or spend it on infrastructure? What do you get with unemployment as to a lasting legacy? A lazier, less eductacated workforce? With public works, while spending money on projects it puts those unemployed into the job market in addition to having a structure or road constructed. In addition, the workers may also learn a new skill; is a new skill learned under unemployment benefits?

Under Pres. Bush, infrastructure spending was ignored, unless you count the rebuilding of Iraq and Afganastan in your response.

There are few truley “shovel ready” projects since the fed, state, and local governments cannot afford to advance the preliminary engineering on projects they do not expect to go to construction in the immediate future.Only maintenance projects or design build projects could “immediately” go to contract for construction. There is alag time to finalize the designs, get approved environmental clearances, and to buy any additional land needed for construction.

Since the conserves are hell bent on doing nothing, what do you think the next two years will look like under the “more tax cut” mentality? Rosy future?

JDW

August 29th, 2011
2:32 pm

So Kyle, where else can you spend 1$109 billion, create lots of jobs guaranteed and drive enormous benefit for society at large.

From The Economist, they tend to run a bit ahead of the curve. I saw this almost a year ago…

“Roads and bridges are undermaintained. America’s rail system is inadequate and in need of repair and expansion. Electrical grids are weak in many places and could be turned into smart grids in others to facilitate a more efficient use of energy. Water and sewer systems in cities around the country are aging and vulnerable. Broadband coverage in many metropolitan areas is pitiful relative to that elsewhere in the developed world. And so on. The country could usefully spend several hundred billion dollars a year on such investments, for years to come.”

And summary

“Given the benefits of infrastructure spending, and the fact that there’s almost no downside to at least proposing a major programme of investments, I continue to be surprised by the lack of such a plan. I don’t get it. Administration officials keep wringing their hands trying to figure out how to squeeze a tiny package of small business tax credits through Congress, while Americans complain every day about the obvious shortcomings in their local public infrastructure. ”

Seems to me any good recovery plan should include infrastructure as a component. My complaint with the Administration is what took so long….

http://www.economist.com/blogs/freeexchange/2010/09/fiscal_policy_0

MarkV

August 29th, 2011
2:32 pm

Kyle,
Why didn’t you just write: “The President wants to spend big on the nation’s roads and bridges, starting with a two-year, $109 billion spending package …”
I think that is wrong, because ….” , instead of quibbling about how the expression “shovel ready” had been used.

Obozononics

August 29th, 2011
2:34 pm

JDW, is there some reason that you “believe” the democrats and not the republicans? Are you so stupid that you think they are different? Idiots that believe that are the reason we have Obozo, and since yo9u Bush bash at every turn let me bother you with some FACTS. How about keeping the Bush tax cuts in place, I thought you liberals hated that. Then there is the Patriot Act which the left cried about but Obozo expanded on and kept the rest of it in place… Then there was the cry that Bush was spending like a drunken sailor, then what do you call spending 3 times as much as Bush in half the time. Looking at the FACTS you should hate Obozo,

Road Scholar

August 29th, 2011
2:35 pm

JDW: Do you live on the south side of ATL in the burbs?

contrarian

August 29th, 2011
2:38 pm

Yay! More fodder for the ‘the AJC hate liberals’ crowd. Or not. I can’t keep up these days. Is the AJC completely void of conservative voices or not? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?….

JD in Marietta

August 29th, 2011
2:40 pm

Kyle, don’t listen to these libs giving you grief for being a conservative. All they can do is defend this inept, inexperienced President who is more qualified to teach law at Emory than he is to run this country. Its obvious he’s in over his head and has a cabinet with the least amount of private sector experience compared to past admininstrations….and it SHOWS.

Ayn Rant

August 29th, 2011
2:42 pm

The natural and immediate step to take after a financial disaster like 2008 is to make massive investment in infrastructure in order to maintain jobs and consumer spending power, and to attract private capital investment.

Borrowing money to finance infrastructure projects is just good business sense. The debt should be paid off over time by those who benefit from the infrastructure improvements. All successful businesses finance capital improvements by borrowing. “Pay as you go” is a primitive economic notion no longer practiced in developed countries.

There weren’t any worthwhile shovel-ready projects for the timid stimulus effort in 2009-10, and there aren’t any now. Federal and state governments do not plan ahead. There are many ideas but no blueprints for worthwhile improvements.

The stimulus spending of 2009-11 was barely sufficient to hold unemployment below 10%. It was financed with borrowed capital, but it was not an investment that promised future returns. The revival of stimulus spending now faces the same obstacle: no worthwhile shovel-ready projects.

So, stimulus spending didn’t jolt the economy out of stagnation, and tax cuts and extensions of tax cuts didn’t jolt the economy out of stagnation. We’ve run out of politically-acceptable ideas for reviving our economy.

Let’s not repeat the same old ineffective measures of stimulus spending and tax cuts. New approaches are needed.

Joe The Plumber too.

August 29th, 2011
2:44 pm

getalife and saywhat are just worried about who will recharge the ebt card every month, they should get off the democractic plantation, I did over thirty years ago and have never looked back.

That Black guy

August 29th, 2011
2:50 pm

Warren Buffett, hypocrite
Last Updated: 11:51 PM, August 28, 2011

Posted: August 29, 2011

This one’s truly, uh … rich: Billionaire Warren Buffett says folks like him should have to pay more taxes — but it turns out his firm, Berkshire Hathaway, hasn’t paid what it’s already owed for years…

Obvious question: If Buffett really thinks he and his “mega-rich friends” should pay higher taxes, why doesn’t his firm fork over what it already owes under current rates?

Read more: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/editorials/warren_buffett_hypocrite_E3BsmJmeQVE38q2Woq9yjJ#ixzz1WRfndkaQ

Do as I say, not as I do maybe?

Lil' Barry Bailout (Revised Downward)

August 29th, 2011
2:54 pm

“Report: Obama to tell us some jobs are shovel-ready, after all”
——-

Fool us once, shame on you…

Who believes the lying Idiot Messiah any more? Besides his receptacles and other useful idiots, obviously.

This proposal is just the latest excuse for bigger government, more spending, and more payoffs for the union thugs.