Jay Ambrose: Summer of Recovery? It's a sham 

They worked, they worked, the stimulus and other recession relief measures worked, we've been told, and now it's Recovery Summer, so named by the Obama administration as the president and vice president trot about seeking applause for themselves and votes for Democratic allies.

But wait. What do at least some recent analyses say?

Oh, no. What we have is not political propaganda, but facts. Data. Information. And what it adds up to is possible disaster - a June drop in factory orders, homes sales and retail sales on top of a shrinking workforce, indications that recovery is becoming far easier to find in rhetoric than in reality.

Maybe this is partly true because all those shovel-ready projects promised when the stimulus was passed in February of 2009 weren't shovel-ready at all. They were election-ready, shaped not to provide jobs when most needed for the good of the economy but to provide votes when most needed for the good of Democrats running for Congress. That would be right about now, not many months before voting day in November.

And, says a Washington Post story, we've suddenly got 12,800 projects getting started on highways, in parks and weatherizing homes. That means some temporary jobs at long last. And that means gratitude to noble benefactors

The project timing is difficult to defend, but then so is much else about the package, from a cost as much as the war in Iraq to the program's fundamental premises. Spending a dollar on creating a job gets you back $1.50, defenders say. They don't mention that you took much of the $862 billion from a private sector that might have spent the dollar more profitably, or that a lot of the stimulus money was not spent creating jobs.

The defenders aren't through yet, though, because they want you to know something extremely misleading, that the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) says the measure gave us 2.8 million jobs. Poke around the critiques of skeptical economists such as Donald Boudreaux and you discover that the CBO analysis is based on a highly questionable formula and not on anything resembling an actual head count.

It is in fact hard to demonstrate convincingly that spending has ever worked to end a recession but easy to show that Obama's style of excessive spending can bring about economic decline. Europe knows as much, which is why Britain, France and Germany are among those busily reducing spending and insisting the world's wealthiest nations should all cut their deficits and debts within a few years, no matter what our increasingly disrespected president has been preaching.

President Obama is still not saying he has learned from the likes of President Kennedy, President Reagan or Lady Margaret Thatcher, all of whom found recessionary rescue principally through tax cuts. He continues to bash business, say what a wondrous thing we have in a health-care remake that will add enormously to governmental costs and is pushing for still more stimulus spending in at least the short term.

Democrats have wanted to extend unemployment benefits by bundling them with other expenditures instead of taking the GOP route of separating them and paying for them mostly out of old stimulus funds.

Obama's gestures toward deficit reduction have mainly been to ask others to look into it and perform a few tricks more for show than anything, although he has now promised action the Republicans won't like. Probably, instead of shaving spending, he means to make ends more nearly meet by raising taxes, which would slow growth even while scratching one of his ideological itches.

Let's hope the election-ready stimulus projects don't confuse voters into leaning leftwards in voting booths.

Examiner Columnist Jay Ambrose is a former Washington opinion writer and editor of two dailies. He can be reached at: Speaktojay@aol.com.

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