Between Election 2008 and the early moments of the Obama administration, it was assumed a new New Deal was coming complete with massive infrastructure projects. But, now the stimulus package is so full of other things even some of the most unlikely news outlets have noticed.
Despite having passed by the House of Representatives on Jan. 28 by a 244-188 margin, without a single Republican vote, CNBC “Mad Money” host Jim Cramer and MSNBC “Hardball” host Chris Matthews questioned the meager tax cuts and infrastructure spending in the plan during “Hardball” that night.
Matthews asked Cramer if the $168 billion in tax cuts included in the House version of the stimulus bill would be “enough boost” for the economy.
“No, not with this economy,” Cramer said. “I mean, this is an economy where every single headline of every company is then about how many thousands of people they lay off. I mean, this is the quotient of the number of people being laid off versus the number of people who can benefit from that and the amount. No Chris – not nearly enough. Not even a fraction.”
Cramer also brought up the tiny amount of spending on infrastructure projects, which he said would not create enough jobs.
“[L]et’s just take the infrastructure number – do you know that it‘s $30 billion for infrastructure for bridges?” Cramer asked. “The ‘Big Dig’ cost $22 billion. I mean, on one thing and it only put 5,000 to work. This is small-time think. All the companies I deal with, the steel companies, all the companies involved in manufacturing – they cannot believe how small this is. It’s not gonna put a lot of people to work.”
Cramer echoed a similar sentiment that the office of Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., echoed – that such a small portion of it was going to infrastructure spending, debunking a myth frequently heard in the media. However, the typically left-of-center Obama fan Matthews agreed with Cramer.
“I don’t want to get over your head here, but why in the world aren’t we doing what they said they were going to do – build bridges, factory jobs, replace the smell of decay with the smell of construction, the cranes out, the trucks out?” Matthews said to Cramer. “Why don’t they spend all the money either on tax cuts for people who need the money and/or building stuff? Why is it all going into the cats-and-dogs programs?”
Matthews even noted how congressional Democrats could have used the stimulus to appease the unions, one of their core constituencies, but chose instead to gear the package toward government programs.
“Hey look, if the Democrats are pro-union, they should call up the construction union guys, the trade, the construction trades and say what are you ready to build? We’ve got the money. Anyway, I don’t know why they don’t do it. Anyway, put the hard hats on.”