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Lies, Damn Lies, and Presidential Pronouncements

So the White House released a press release concerning Porkulus spending, in regards to projects of such import that both VP Biden and The One were on hand to spread the Good News during a visit to the Department of Transportation.

First, Biden:

Folks, the road to recovery must, quite literally, be repaved. And with the leadership of Secretary LaHood and President Barack Obama, we’re doing just that. Each and every day we’re making that road a little bit smoother and much easier to travel.

Yes sirree, Secretary LaHood has been a very busy beaver doling out the taxpayer’s dough:

Illinois is getting a jump on the federal stimulus program, claiming more than 12% of the road and bridge projects approved so far by the U.S. Department of Transportation.


As of April 1, DOT had approved 243 projects in Illinois totaling $629 million, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood told the Illinois congressional delegation in a meeting that day. In the last two weeks, three more projects were added, according to a Transportation Department spokeswoman. Mr. LaHood is a former Republican congressman from Peoria.

California is also chasing a fat cut of this money, including $75 million to repave three miles of rough pavement on Interstate 710 in Los Angeles.

Next came President HopeyChange. Among the things he rambled on about, this bit is the riff getting all the media play:

Today, because these projects are getting approved more quickly than we thought, thanks to in large part the outstanding work of the TIGER team and folks here at the Department of Transportation, and because these projects are costing less than we thought, we can utter a sentence rarely heard in recent years: This government effort is coming in ahead of schedule and under budget.

This statement had some residents of Kosickstan all a-twitter, with diarist “wmtriallawyer” headlining a post with “Oh Noes! Wingnuts Ain’t Gonna Like This….” The KosKid goes on to quote more of Barack’s remarks, concentrating on how many of the various bids came in notably below states’ estimates, and ludicrously claimed this was the result of “transparency” in the process, when, in reality, what this shows is that in many cases the states wildly inflated the estimated costs for these projects when requesting the funds from the Feds (like California’s $25 million per mile road project noted above).

DOT has doled out taxpayer dollars for roughly 2000 projects in a mere 41 days. That tells me their was scant scrutiny involved in determining the worthiness of each project individually; it sounds like no one was told “No.”

Especially in Illinois.

Obama’s “ahead of time and under budget” line involves accepting some really cynical logic, especially the “under budget” bit. These projects have mostly only started to get under way. I’d guess most of them are not “shovels in ground” right now. Whether they are actually completed in the time frames and at the originally proposed costs has yet to be determined. As to “ahead of time,” well, The One is basically saying the money flew out DOT’s doors faster than anyone originally expected. (read: no due diligence approving projects.) I wouldn’t be bragging on that.

Remember, Boston’s “Big Dig” ended up running five years late and billions over budget before it was finally completed… and then, after all that time and all that money, among other problems, it actually killed a commuter because of slipshod work.

What makes you think we’re not gonna be seeing the same kind of problems all over again when all this money is getting flung around without, it seems, any kind of oversight?

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