For a few minutes yesterday morning on The Jaco Report, Ed Martin did not sound like the dishonest lunatic we know him to be. Observe:
Let that soak in for a moment. Ed Martin -- a man who can't stop talking about the horrors of public programs and government spending - is calling for a rival of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's largest New Deal agency, the Works Progress Administration.
MARTIN: I live in South City, and you drive down on River Des Peres and you'll see in the bricks the WPA symbol. And what we didn't do -- we took $1.2 trillion in the stimulus -- we didn't do shovel ready jobs.
JACO: Would you have been in favor of those kind of things -- maybe a son of the WPA -- to put people to work immediately on public-sector construction jobs.
MARTIN: Emphatically yes. I mean, emphatically yes. And I think places like Highway 21 in Jefferson County, they're desperate to finish the roads. The federal government has a role to play, and I think you and I can talk about how big or small the role is. But public level infrastructure, I think we should have done that. We would have put, put people together. I mean, we built the Zoo, we built the memorials. We should have said -- and even during the WPA, we sometimes said -- if workers need 20 hours each to build a 40 hour because we have two men that need a job, in this case two men and women, we'll split it up. You get 20 each. I'm emphatically for that.
Never mind for a moment that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 included $275 billion available for federal contracts, grants and loans (and $288B in tax cuts that Martin probably doesn't oppose). Never mind that Missouri just completed the nation's first stimulus-funded shovel-ready project outside of Tuscumbia last week. Or that constructing such projects takes a little bit of time.
Let's just reflect for a moment on this dramatic shift to the left -- and last-ditch effort for viability as a candidate in the 3rd Congressional District -- in Martin's campaign for Congress.
Host Charles Jaco was understandably confused by Martin's dramatic call for new federal job creation programs. Near the end of the interview (around the 11:45 mark), he asked, "Are you sure that's not going to get your drummed out of the conservative economic wing of the party?"
Count me among the confused. But it is nice to see a Republican pushing FDR economic policies as a way forward.
It's also worth noting that later in the interview, Martin called for the remaining stimulus money should be taken and spent on shovel ready jobs. As it happens, much of the remaining stimulus money is for investments in infrastructure, health care and other areas.
The $862 billion package was divided roughly in thirds among tax cuts, aid to states and the unemployed, and investments in infrastructure, health care and other areas. The first two have delivered most of their boost, but much of the investment spending is moving far more slowly. At the end of July, nearly 18 months after the stimulus passed, more than half of the $275 billion in investments had yet to be spent.
Underlying the slow pace is a defining tension: Officials want to get money out the door to jolt the economy but want to spend it carefully enough to meet long-term policy aims -- and avoid headlines about waste or fraud.
h/t to reader AM for catching this clip.