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Obama’s New Deal December 7, 2008

Posted by neoavatara in Politics.
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Well, we knew Mr. Obama couldn’t pretend to be a moderate forever.  He has proposed the largest spending plan in American History, and the largest infrastructure program since the building of the interstate highway system in the 1950s.


ENERGY: “[W]e will launch a massive effort to make public buildings more energy-efficient. Our government now pays the highest energy bill in the world. We need to change that. We need to upgrade our federal buildings by replacing old heating systems and installing efficient light bulbs. That won’t just save you, the American taxpayer, billions of dollars each year. It will put people back to work.”

This is an excellent move.  This should have been done years ago.  This is a svery small expenditure that can provide relatively large savings.  How many jobs are going to be created by installing light bulbs, I will leave up to you.

ROADS AND BRIDGES: “[W]e will create millions of jobs by making the single largest new investment in our national infrastructure since the creation of the federal highway system in the 1950s. We’ll invest your precious tax dollars in new and smarter ways, and we’ll set a simple rule – use it or lose it. If a state doesn’t act quickly to invest in roads and bridges in their communities, they’ll lose the money.”

If there was ever a boondoggle, this is it.  What happens when you force states to spend money quickly?  They spend it incompetently.  There is a reason why road projects take so long; they go under long term scrutiny. By rushing the process, waste will ensue.  Just watch.

SCHOOLS: “[M]y economic recovery plan will launch the most sweeping effort to modernize and upgrade school buildings that this country has ever seen. We will repair broken schools, make them energy-efficient, and put new computers in our classrooms. Because to help our children compete in a 21st century economy, we need to send them to 21st century schools.”

This is maybe his most important proposal; but it will be his biggest failure if he doesn’t attack hard core Democrats on certain principles.  He must make it easier to hire and fire teachers.  He must make competition more important in schools.  Money alone has proven not to work.  Obama has spoken eloquently on the subject; now we will let his actions speak.

BROADBAND: “As we renew our schools and highways, we’ll also renew our information superhighway. It is unacceptable that the United States ranks 15th in the world in broadband adoption. Here, in the country that invented the Internet, every child should have the chance to get online, and they’ll get that chance when I’m president – because that’s how we’ll strengthen America’s competitiveness in the world.”

I have no problem with this…but I think the access to the internet as a cause celebre for education is overblown.  Kids use it more for goofing off than anything else, not to mention cheating on term papers.  It is a small cost to provide internet access, so probably worth it in the long run.

ELECTRONIC MEDICAL RECORDS: “In addition to connecting our libraries and schools to the Internet, we must also ensure that our hospitals are connected to each other through the Internet. That is why the economic recovery plan I’m proposing will help modernize our health care system – and that won’t just save jobs, it will save lives. We will make sure that every doctor’s office and hospital in this country is using cutting edge technology and electronic medical records so that we can cut red tape, prevent medical mistakes, and help save billions of dollars each year.”

This is one of the biggest jokes of all.  As a physician, I like electronic medical records.  It is certainly a benefit for physicians and nurses, to have quick access to information about their patients.  But it is highly questionable if it saves any money or lives.   In fact, there are studies that show it overall costs more money to install EMR.  I am in favor of it, but I don’t think it will provide any cost savings at all.

Overall, when you look at this plan, basically it comes down to the roads and bridges.  The rest of the plan is small potatoes.  The infrastructure spending proposed could cost upward of $1 trillion for next year alone.  Considering we are already close to $1 trillion in debt for next year, are we talking a $2 trillion deficit?  Is that possible?

Additionally, although a jobs program may be necessary during this downturn, economic growth is NOT a by product of most jobs programs.  Even during FDR’s New Deal, economic growth was not spurred on by the huge spending increases.  Unemployment stabilized, but growth as per GDP barely grew at all.  So it is highly suspect to think that the economy as a whole will grow significantly because of these expenditures.

I will use one of the Democrats favorite lines against them:  ‘We are spending our children’s future!  Think of the children!’

I guess our children’s futures don’t matter when a Democrat is in office.



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