Monday, March 8, 2010

ANOTHER FAILURE: Obama's Stimulus & the Home Weatherization Lie

A year ago, President Barack Obama peered into our economic future and saw foam sealant and weatherstripping.

In the midst of a punishing recession, Obama would wield that incomparable jobs-creating tool, the caulk gun. What the Works Progress Administration was to Franklin Roosevelt, the government-funded weatherization of homes would be to Obama.

"If you allocate money to weatherize homes," Obama effused to an audience in Elkhart, Ind., "the homeowner gets the benefit of lower energy bills. You right away put people back to work, many of whom in the construction industry and in the housing industry are out of work right now." And it's a step to "a new energy future."

Obama was hawking another one of his cost-free, best-of-all-worlds scenarios, one that has been exposed in all its self-deluding inanity in the space of a year. As a writer parodying such magical thinking long ago observed, "Sun-beams may be extracted from cucumbers, but the process is tedious." A sun-beam extraction program might have been just as effective, and nearly as timely.

Obama poured $5 billion into weatherization as part of last year's stimulus and wanted to spend billions more in a second stimulus. The Department of Energy managed to get the money to the states, where it has swelled the coffers for weatherization and done little else.

According to a Department of Energy inspector general report last month, "only 2 of the 10 highest funded recipients completed more than 2 percent of planned units." New York had completed 280 out of 45,400 planned units as of December, Texas had completed 0 of 33,908, and California 12 out of 43,400. That's 292 homes in three states with a total population of roughly 80 million.

So much for the 87,000 jobs the administration promised "right away." The inspector general report is unsparing: "The job creation impact of what was considered to be one of the Department's most ‘shovel ready' projects has not materialized," and neither have "the significant reductions in energy consumption." Besides that, weatherization has been a stimulative triumph. READ MORE...

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