Stimulus irony | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Stimulus irony

Posted By on Thu, Feb 19, 2009 at 11:08 AM

Another stimulus-related dispatch from Paul Barton in Washington, this one on the White House projections for job creation in Arkansas.

Wouldn't you know it -- the biggest beneficiary will be the Third Congressional District, represented by the only member of the Ark. delegation, Rep. John Boozman, who voted AGAINST the stimulus package.

We'd ask Boozman if he'd prefer to turn down the money, but he's adopted the Huckabee policy of not talking to publications that criticize him.

Read on.

WASHINGTON - The congressional district of Rep. John Boozman, the lone Arkansas “no” vote against the stimulus package, would get more new jobs under the plan than any other part of Arkansas, according to White House estimates released this week.

The administration shows Arkansas gaining 32,000 jobs with Boozman’s 3rd Congressional District getting 8,800, followed by 8,200 for the 2nd District; 7,400 for the 1st District and 7,300 for the fourth district.

Boozman is the lone Republican in the Arkansas delegation, and House Republican unanimously opposed the bill.

Meanwhile, other “progressive”or liberal-leaning think tanks have also produced estimates showing the package to be extremely beneficial to poorer states like Arkansas and Mississippi, which have proportionately higher numbers of citizens on federal assistance.

The Center for American Progress, for instance, shows Arkansas overall receiving a “recovery package” equal to  $4.77 billion or 4.99 percent of its gross state product. That put Arkansas in the highest category of returns from the bill along with states such as Mississippi, Alabama and South Carolina. In all, it was one of 13 states getting the highest returns from the stimulus package.

And the liberal-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities shows Arkansas getting impressive inflows in a wide variety of social programs: $730 million additional for Medicaid; $246.9 million additional for education; and $269 million additional for 389,000 food stamp participants. The figures represent gains over the next three to four fiscal years, the center’s figures showed.

Boozman’s office told the Arkansas Times this week it would not respond to requests for comment because it didn’t consider the paper “fair and balanced.”

Conservative economic analysts such as Bill Beach of the Washington-based Heritage Foundation said the White House used the most simplistic approach possible to analyzing job impacts. It assigned job growth to states and congressional districts based on their current share of the U.S. Labor force.

A better approach, he said, would have been to look at jobs going to particular industries and how jobs in those industries are spread among the states. The administration likely avoided that approach, he said,  because it would have shown bigger states getting a disproportionate share of the new jobs. Beach said it was a “rookie analysis.”

Randy Zook, president of the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce, said he didn't know if the White House numbers were correct but said, "I don't think there is any question it is going to have a big impact." He added that nearly $5 billion "is a big rock to throw in a pond this size. It's going to have some ripples."

-- Paul Barton


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