ABC Champions How 'Stimulus' Will Enable Mayors to Create Jobs

ABC's World News on Tuesday night celebrated President Obama's signature on the 'stimulus' package by devoting a full story to how mayors will supposedly use their portion to create 1.6 million jobs. Fill-in anchor Diane Sawyer recited “the wish list” of “nearly 19,000 infrastructure projects -- roads, bridges, mass transit -- costing some $150 billion” and “the mayors argue that the projects are ready to go and will bring along 1.6 million jobs.” No word about the inevitable corruption as reporter David Muir trumpeted: “Across this country, mayors and governors tonight are pouring over wish lists -- broken bridges, schools, libraries -- all of which need help.”

Justifying the spending, Muir cited replacing “old boilers” at a high school which Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm insisted would create jobs. Jumping to Elkhart, Indiana, Muir listed worthwhile projects and specific numbers of jobs each would supposedly create: “Fixing one of their main streets would cost $34 million and create 858 new jobs. Fixing the city's pumping facility, $9 million, 225 new jobs and upgrading an airport runway: $5.5 million, 138 people to work.” He moved on to Hoboken, New Jersey's $36 million plan to prevent flooding, a project the mayor declared will lead to “several hundred employees being hired immediately.”

Muir concluded by seeing a harmonious match of money and need: “Here, and across the country, a flood of requests from cities in need of help and workers in need of jobs.”

Meanwhile, in a story to file under “Now They Tell Us,” four hours after Obama signed the bill the NBC Nightly News got around to informing viewers of how it may not be a great as the media sold it. NBC caught up with the CBS Evening News, as recounted in a January 30 NB item: “CBS Lists Excess Spending Which Prompted GOP Opposition.”  

NBC anchor Brian Williams noted the “giant stimulus bill the President signed today, $787billion in spending, hopes are high it will help. It's designed to put Americans to work.” But, he acknowledged, “at over a thousand pages, people are still reading through it, discovering what's in it. And a lot of critics of course are looking closely.”

Lisa Myers reported, in part:
Added behind these doors in the final draft of the stimulus package, $8 billion for high-speed rail projects. Critics say some of that is likely to go for a pet project of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a magnetic levitation rail line from Las Vegas to Disneyland near Los Angeles. Critics say such projects may be good for Vegas and other locales, but they're not critical national priorities....

Conservative economists say that though some of the spending is worthwhile, the package is not properly designed to stimulate the economy....

Then there is the price tag. If the package creates or saves 3.5 million jobs as predicted, it will cost a quarter of a million dollars per job. The Obama administration says the cost of doing nothing would be much greater, in human and economic terms.
Transcript of the story on the Tuesday, February 17 World News on ABC:
DIANE SAWYER: The nation's mayors are getting in line for their portion of the stimulus money, and the wish list: nearly 19,000 infrastructure projects -- roads, bridges, mass transit -- costing some $150 billion. And the mayors argue that the projects are ready to go and will bring along 1.6 million jobs. Here's ABC's David Muir.

DAVID MUIR: Across this country, mayors and governors tonight are pouring over wish lists -- broken bridges, schools, libraries -- all of which need help.

GOVERNOR JENNIFER GRANHOLM (D) MICHIGAN: We've got over $50 billion worth of requests just in the state of Michigan for a pot that's less than $1 billion.

MUIR: As Michigan's Governor studied the requests, so did we. Lansing, Michigan, alone, 20 projects, $132 million worth. One project, simply replacing these decades old boilers in this high school. Governor Granholm has yet to sign off but knows how significant every green light will be.

GRANHOLM: It would. It would add jobs in installing the boiler, perhaps in maintaining the boiler, but it's not just the boiler obviously whatever they have had on the shelf for a long period of time, they might be able to now to compete and put people to work.

MUIR: In Elkhart, Indiana, a city devastated by the highest jobless rate in the country, the mayor told us his projects are shovel-ready. Fixing one of their main streets would cost $34 million and create 858 new jobs. Fixing the city's pumping facility, $9 million, 225 new jobs and upgrading an airport runway: $5.5 million, 138 people to work. This man used to build RVs. He told us, any of it he would take.

MAN: With a little bit of training, I feel like I can do just about anything.

MUIR: Another American city with a major project on the wish list, Hoboken, New Jersey, here on the banks of the Hudson. At high tide and during severe weather there is flooding here, and they've wanted to fix it for years. Engineers have already drawn up plans for major pumps to fix the problem. The cost, $36 million.

MUIR TO MAYOR DAVID ROBERTS: And how many people would you hire right away?

HOBOKEN MAYOR DAVID ROBERTS: It would be several hundred employees being hired immediately.

MUIR: Here, and across the country, a flood of requests from cities in need of help and workers in need of jobs. David Muir, ABC News, Hoboken, New Jersey.
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center