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Sunday, February 22, 2009

How Do We Know Stimulus Bill Will Create 16,000 New Hampshire Jobs?

How do we reconcile the fact that the Obama administration and New Hampshire Reps. Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) and Paul Hodes (NH-02) have promised that the recently passed stimulus bill will create upwards of 16,000 state jobs with the countervailing fact that, according to stimuluswatch.org, there are zero projects for the Granite State in the package?

Stimuluswatch.org is careful to point out, “[t]hese projects are not part of the stimulus bill. They are candidates for funding by federal grant programs once the bill passes.” STEWARD sought clarity from top legislative staffers on Capitol Hill who explained that the stimuluswatch.org list appears to catalogue the so-called wish lists of “shovel-ready” projects submitted by the nation’s governors and mayors. Many of these requests would be comical if taxpayer money weren’t at stake. $20,000,000 for a “Downtown Quiet Zone” in San Diego estimated to create zero jobs?

If stimuluswatch.org is correct—that Gov. John Lynch and New Hampshire’s mayors have not submitted such a wish list—how should we react? On the one hand, good for them; we don’t need any federally funded “Downtown Quiet Zones.” (In this economy wouldn’t we rather have our downtowns bustling?) But on the other hand, how are we to hold New Hampshire’s federal, state and local officials accountable if they have provided no information as to how the money would be spent? And if they have enumerated no “shovel-ready” projects, how can they estimate New Hampshire will “create or save” 16,000 jobs?

The Obama administration promises to post “spending and performance data” on recovery.gov in due time and that they will soon establish “rigorous internal controls [and] oversight mechanisms.” We look forward to them. But until President Obama, Gov. John Lynch, Sens. Judd Gregg and Jeanne Shaheen, Reps. Shea-Porter and Hodes, and our local officials make it clear to We the People how the money will be doled out, these mechanisms will have nothing to measure performance against.

Perhaps the March 3rd public hearing of the House Municipal and County Affairs Committee will provide some additional and much needed detail.

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