Saturday, December 06, 2008

Breaking Down the New New Deal

Politico hails it as the "21st Century New Deal". A little grandiose, if you ask me. Let's break down some of the components of Obama's plan.

First, the idea that Obama will "save or create at least 2.5 million jobs" is completely unfalsifiable, and therefore a completely worthless statement.

—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.”

Maybe some of this needs done, but it's not an energy plan. It's not even a fake energy plan, and it sure ain't a jobs plan. More of this light bulb nonsense... and don't these office buildings already have (normal) fluorescent lighting?

—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.”

Again, some of this needs done, but is the real problem of transportation and infrastructure primarily one of total funding, or better management and less wasteful pork? "Use it or lose it" is a recipe for abuse and waste. It is the definition of "throwing money at a problem", as Obama declared he wouldn't do (t= 1:50 in the YouTube vid).

—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 a re-hash of the energy "plan" above. Some of this needs done. But as a potential plan for jobs, energy, or education, it accomplishes none of those things efficiently or effectively. New computers? Kids can't read or do math. How 'bout some textbooks? Or better yet, ask yourself, "Does every school district in the nation have the same needs, or do some need books while others need to fix leaky roofs, and still others need to hire teachers?" One size does not fit all.

—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.”

Internet is great and all, but this is in his "jobs" speech?

—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.”
Probably not a bad idea, but making things more efficient will probably cost jobs. (See UAW)

We're in trouble if this is all Obama has come up with.

Or should I be happy he's not engaging in anything more destructive? 21st Century New Deal? Not nearly so grand, thank goodness.

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