WaPo: Rep. Murtha's earmarks not a viable economy in Western Pa. 

The Washington Post is waking up to an obvious truth about the most corrupt Represenative in Congress. Democratic Congressman John Murtha's decades of shoveling pork projects to his beleaguered Western Pennsylvania district have not created a viable economy there:

"Let me tell you: We look at jobs. How do we attract jobs?" he said. A Washington Post analysis of Murtha's earmarks, however, shows that his job promises often come up short. Of 16 local companies the congressman has helped win federal earmarks, 10 have generated far fewer jobs than forecast, and half of those already have closed operations in his district. Murtha's strategy yielded some successes too. Four firms have expanded dramatically with the aid of earmarks, notably Concurrent Technologies Corp., which after more than a dozen years of earmarks has grown to employ 800 in Johnstown and now wins competitively bid contracts.

The Post analysis illustrates the fleeting success of some of the companies backed by earmarks. Some of the jobs generated by Murtha's earmarks cost about $2 million each, and scores disappeared as soon as projects were completed.

Peter Fiske, a former defense executive in Murtha's district, said awarding earmarks to fledgling companies often backfires, a problem that might be avoided with a more rigorous assessment of project risks. Fiske helped found RAPT Industries, a company that Murtha forecast would generate 45 new jobs. It shuttered its four-person office this year.

"If you looked at Congressman Murtha's efforts in the same way you look at an investor's efforts, it's easy to see that the business model originally conceived hasn't really panned out in terms of its rate of return, " Fiske said.

It's great story, so read the rest. Also note that a few years back Murtha's district was passed up for a major new clean coal refinery that went to West Virginia, despite possessing the country’s largest coal and natural-gas reserves. That would have created permanent, not fleeting, jobs. Many of Murtha's consituents believe his heavy political hand on the district no doubt had something to do with being passed over, and many previous Murtha boosters have soured on him since.

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Mark Hemingway

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