It’s not all pork

March 3, 2009

Still think that all the money in Obama’s federal economic stimulus program is going for pork, which will do nothing to help the economy?

 Well, think again. Consider the news from the West Virginia Division of Highways that they’ll be using $14.9 million from the stimulus fund to move up construction of its portion of the Mon/Fayette Expressway.

Using the economic stimulus money will mean that the highway will be open a couple years before it would have been otherwise, according to Marvin Murphy, state highway engineer for the West Virginia Division of Highways.

He told the Herald-Standard the plans are to complete the construction to open the road in one construction season with a completion date of Dec. 28. Murphy said the road likely would be open by early 2010 at the latest.

That’s great news to the frantic folks who try to maneuver through the obstacles along Route 119 or 857 every day. The hope is that with the expressway open, Morgantown and Uniontown will be connected as never before. Planners envision some of Morgantown’s boom spreading northward giving developers much needed room to grow at Fayette County’s benefit.  Jobs and housing could give Fayette County’s economy a much needed stimulus of its own.

It’s great news overall for the expressway, which has been talked about  for 50 years or more and seemed at times to be headed for the dustbins of history. But now it appears destined to be completed from Morgantown to about 15 miles outside of Pittsburgh.

The entire Uniontown-to-Brownsville link of the Mon/Fayette Expressway is slated for completion in late 2011 or early 2012. After traveling on a new bridge across the Monongahela River in Washington County, the road will connect with the already built parts of Interstate 43 between California and Route 51 in Jefferson.

Overall, President Barack Obama said Tuesday that $28 billion from his economic recovery program that is being spent on road-building nationwide will save or create 150,000 jobs by the end of next year.

That’s greater than the number of jobs the Big Three automakers — General Motors, Ford and Chrysler — lost in the past three years, Obama said on his first visit as president to the Department of Transportation.

“Transportation projects that were once on hold are now starting up again as part of the largest new investment in America’s infrastructure since President Eisenhower built the interstate highway system,” said Obama, according to Associated Press.

Outlining his plans for department employees, Obama said that just two weeks after he signed the $787 billion economic stimulus bill into law on Feb. 17, “we are seeing shovels hit the ground.”

States can begin using their share of the $28 billion road-building investment immediately, he said. More than 200 highway construction projects also will be launched in the coming weeks, Obama said.

Wonder what those Republicans opposed to the stimulus project have to say about that? Kind of hard to be opposed to progress isn’t it?

 


Republican governor is a hypocrite

February 23, 2009

How do you spell hypocrite?

Try Mark Sanford.

The South Carolina governor has been an outspoken opponent of President Obama’s economic stimulus program, calling it wasteful and a ticket for higher taxes in the future.

But funny thing is Sanford has no trouble taking the money.

According to Associated Press, Sanford has decided to take stimulus money to increase weekly unemployment checks by $25.

Sanford’s decision came over the weekend after he determined that every other state would be taking the extra benefit money, said spokesman Joel Sawyer. “Every other governor in the country had signed off on the request as well,” Sawyer said.

Sanford, the head of the Republican Governors Association, has been a harsh critic of the stimulus package signed into law last week and other federal bailouts. Other Republican governors have been critical of the stimulus program but they too have agreed to take the money. I think that used to be called talking out of both sides of your mouth.

According to Associated Press, the stimulus bill calls for using $145 million to increase South Carolina’s unemployment benefits. The average unemployed worker now gets $243.94 weekly; the maximum benefit is $326.

The stimulus money brings the first increase in state jobless benefits in at least two years, Employment Security Commissioner Becky Richardson said. Sanford’s decision to use the money came Saturday. The next day he was on “Fox News Sunday” with other governors in an appearance where he refused to rule out a 2012 presidential bid.

 South Carolina posted a 9.5 percent unemployment rate in December, the nation’s third highest. The state’s fund that pays benefits to the jobless has been depending for months on hundreds of millions of dollars in federal loans to stay solvent.

While he is accepting money for the increase, the governor will not likely go along with part of the stimulus plan that extends unemployment benefits to part-time workers, Sawyer said. “That’s something that’s a near certainty that we will not be taking,” he said.

Sawyer said expanding benefits to part-time workers would ultimately add more expenses to the state’s unemployment trust fund and increase the taxes businesses pay into the fund. But one thing’s for certain at this point. If Sanford can get the Obama administration to pay for it, he’ll gladly take it. And then he undoubtedly will continue to bash Obama. Talk about biting the hand that feeds you.


Obama doing the right thing

February 4, 2009

President Barack Obama is getting off to a good start. According to Associated Press, Obama announced Wednesday that he’s imposing $500,000 caps on senior executive pay for the most distressed financial institutions receiving federal bailout money, saying Americans are upset with “executives being rewarded for failure.”

It’s certainly about time that someone spoke up for the taxpayers on this issue. After all, if you’re going to get some taxpayer money then there should be certain things you agree to live with.

According to AP, Obama announced the dramatic new government intervention into corporate America at the White House, with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner at his side. The president said the executive-pay limits are a first step, to be followed by the unveiling next week of a sweeping new framework for spending what remains of the $700 billion financial industry bailout that Congress created last year. The executive-pay move comes amid a national outcry over huge bonuses to executives heading companies seeking taxpayer dollars to remain afloat. The demand for limits was reinforced by revelations that Wall Street firms paid more than $18 billion in bonuses in 2008 even amid the economic downturn and the massive infusion of taxpayer dollars.

“This is America. We don’t disparage wealth. We don’t begrudge anybody for achieving success,” Obama said. “But what gets people upset _ and rightfully so _ are executives being rewarded for failure. Especially when those rewards are subsidized by U.S. taxpayers.” “It’s not a government takeover,” Obama stressed in an interview Tuesday with CNN. “Private enterprise will still be taking place. But people will be accountable and responsible.”

Even some Republicans, angered by company decisions to pay bonuses and buy airplanes while receiving government help, have few qualms about restrictions. “In ordinary situations where the taxpayers’ money is not involved, we shouldn’t set executive pay,” said Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama, the top Republican on the Senate Banking Committee. “But where you’ve got federal money involved, taxpayers’ money involved, TARP money involved, and the way they have spent it, with no accountability, is getting close to being criminal.”

Wow, there you have it! A Republican agreeing with Obama. Maybe there’s hope for this country after all.