We Call Them Liars in the Real World

I misspoke, or made an error, or omitted a fact, or misremembered, or, or, or, errrr….I am a politician (or a ballplayer). If we said to our parents what these folks say to their constituents on a regular basis, we would be slapped and grounded.

They get to continue pretending to be important.

After spending weeks fighting the stimulus bill as “wasteful big government”, Senator Kit Bond of Missouri went on a bus trip to promote projects funded by….the stimulus bill.

Over the summer, it was Congressman Boehner celebrating in June about millions of dollars in road construction funding from the stimulus bill that appeared to be “putting some folks back to work and getting things done”. A couple of weeks later he insisted that he hadn’t seen any money from the bill and insisted that it hadn’t created any jobs. (Note: His home state of Ohio has seen more than $60 million, most of it spent on roads, police, and teachers)

Rep. Jack Kingston from Georgia fought the stimulus bill tooth and nail using the old “Washington waste” card. He issued a press release lauding the nearly $250,000 being spent to retain police officers in Alma and Jessup, Georgia. He pointed out that local efforts work better than attempts by Washington to fix problems from afar. He underlined the point by commenting on the tax savings to the district because the towns would not have to come up with the cash themselves.

He missed the tiny little, almost insignificant point that the money was from…the stimulus bill.

President Obama sold stimulus as a bill that would save or create 1.5 million jobs. So far it has saved tens of thousands of jobs (mostly police and teachers), but hasn’t done much in the way of creating. The administration is trying to “stay on message” and “frame the discussion” about how things are going. I tried framing discussions with my parents….they stayed on a very particular message.

The bright side that we are missing is that less than one third of the money has been spent. More will happen in the coming months, although it is clear that Obama’s team badly misread the depth of the recession we were in.

The rational middle would have been happy if all of the money spent on food stamps, unemployment benefits, and tax cuts had been funnelled towards infrastructure projects. Moody’s has studied the harmonic benefit of federal spending and found that infrastructure creates the largest effect by far (tax cuts, alas, create the lowest). We the people, however, demanded immediate action and quick results. The confused timeline and muddy results have left lots of room for what politicians call “spin”.

In our world, we know it as, “lies”.

The rational middle looks forward to your straight talk…