The Good, The Bad, and This is Stimulus?

President Obama today heads to the Department of Transportation to draw attention to the stimulative spending on infrastructure. From AP, “Stimulus tallies 2,000 transportation projects“:

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama says two rare phrases describe how his administration is spending billions in stimulus money on roads: “ahead of schedule” and “under budget.”

Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood planned Monday to highlight the administration’s 2,000th project funded through the $48.1 billion allocated for transportation infrastructure in the stimulus package. Administration aides note the six-weeks-old law is already producing jobs nationwide, including the day’s highlighted project in hard-hit Kalamazoo County, Mich.

That $68 million project planned to widen an interchange from four lanes to six along Interstate 94 in Portage, Mich.

In education, borrowing from little Petey Jr. to pay Paul. Washington Post, “Schools’ ‘Money Is Falling Off the Truck’“:

Educators across the country are counting on a federal stimulus windfall to prevent teacher layoffs and improve schools. But while Washington is giving, some state and local governments are taking away.

After hearing that an initial batch of $11.8 million in federal funds would soon arrive in Loudoun County, supervisors slashed $7.3 million from the schools budget. They also made clear that if more federal recovery money flows to schools, schools might be asked to give back an equal amount of county dollars.

The Obama administration has heralded the stimulus — which funnels an unprecedented $100 billion into public schools, universities and early childhood programs — as a historic opportunity to reform education. But the budget shifts in Loudoun offer a case study of a phenomenon that worries educators nationwide. When the math is done, will the fiscal jolt from Washington be enough to transform classrooms?

No. The answer to that question is, “No.”

And a Department of Interior news release, “Secretary Salazar Announces Department of Interior Economic Stimulus Projects: USGS Investments Underscore Commitment to ‘Best Science‘:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today announced the Department of the Interior’s first projects under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 – $140 million that will fund 308 U.S. Geological Survey projects across the 50 states. The USGS, the leading science research bureau in the federal government, supports the science needs of all the other bureaus of the Department of the Interior and other departments of the U.S. government. The USGS will play a critical role in addressing the nation’s energy and climate change challenges.

Overall, the Department of the Interior will manage $3.0 billion in investments as part of the recovery plan signed by the President to jumpstart our economy, create or save jobs, and put a down payment on addressing long-neglected challenges so our country can thrive in the 21st Century.

“These USGS projects not only stimulate job creation and preservation, but they stimulate the scientific research that must underpin the decisions we make on behalf of the American people as the stewards of the nation’s natural resources,” Secretary Salazar said in a teleconference today. “As America’s leading earth science agency, USGS is central to helping us meet the imperatives of the nation’s energy and climate change challenges.”

Worthy projects, seems like: $15 million to monitor volcanoes, another $15 million for improved stream monitoring, but stimulus? A half-million to digitize bird-banding records seems like it won’t do anything to jump start the economy.

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