Miscellany Blue - New Hampshire Politics

'Bridge to Nowhere' is Bridge to Our Past and Our Future

As predicted, Mitt Romney headed to Hillsborough yesterday and denounced the use of federal stimulus funds to preserve and maintain the historic Sawyer Bridge, which he mocked as a “bridge to nowhere.”

State Rep. Marjorie Porter, who represents Hillsborough, responded saying the arched stone bridge is not a bridge to nowhere. “It is a bridge to our past and to our future.”

Writing on Blue Hampshire, she expressed the anger and bewilderment of her constituents after having been “mocked and made the brunt of jokes” by Romney.

Hillsborough’s historic stone arch bridges are a lovely — and rare — example of the ingeniousness of our forefathers. Tourists — and their money — come from all over to see them. We are very proud of them.

There are only 254 sites WORLDWIDE designated as Historic Civil Engineering Landmarks. 3 are in NH — the Cog Railway, the Cornish covered bridge, and HILLSBOROUGH’S STONE ARCH BRIDGES!

Future plans are for a lovely park and picnic area, with a causeway to the other side of the river. When the town recovers enough to afford it, that is.

To be mocked and made the brunt of jokes is very painful. Hillsborough is trying hard to plan for its future prosperity and growth. Many community members are devastated by this mockery, and fear it will deal a hard blow to our recovery.


The Road Mitt Travels

Mitt Romney heads to Hillsborough today to disparage the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act as “wasteful government spending.” To get there, his motorcade will be traveling on highways maintained and improved with funds provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

  1. I-93 improvements brought to N.H. with $47.5 million from the Recovery Act. 
  2. Manchester Airport Access Road improvements brought to N.H. with $15.5 million from the Recovery Act.
  3. Route 101 improvements brought to N.H. with $8.9 million from the Recovery Act.
  4. I-393 improvements brought to N. H. with $800,000 from the Recovery Act.
  5. I-89 improvements brought to N.H. with $22.5 million from the Recovery Act.

h/t: NHDP


Romney to Demagogue Historic Bridge Preservation?

John DiStaso reports Mitt Romney will be campaigning in New Hampshire tomorrow at the site of the Sawyer Bridge in Hillsborough. Romney will reportedly cite money spent to preserve and maintain the bridge as an example of “wasteful government spending.”

In 2010, Sean Mahoney made a similar charge during his failed run for Congress. My response first appeared in August 10, 2010:


The arched stone bridges of the Contoocook River Valley of New Hampshire are the earliest examples of dry-laid masonry vaults that became the dominant form of stone construction for engineering structures in New England during the 1830s.

The largest and oldest single concentration of arched stone bridges ever built in New Hampshire is in the town of Hillsborough, which has five of the historic gems. The bridges are registered as historic structures by the Historic American Building Survey and have been recognized as a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark, the second in New Hampshire after the Cog Railway.

$150,045 in stimulus money was awarded to the Town of Hillsborough to preserve and maintain the Sawyer Bridge that will no longer support vehicular traffic and will now become home to a small garden park for picnicking.

1st District Congressional candidate Sean Mahoney says there’s a problem. “It doesn’t go anywhere… The politicians in Concord asked the politicians in Washington for $150,000 to pave a real ‘Bridge to Nowhere.’” He issued a press release. He made a web video. He got a write-up on Andrew Breitbart.

It’s a cheap shot that tells you more about Sean Mahoney than all of his position papers and web videos ever will.


N.H. GOP Willfully Ignores Success of First Stimulus

Following President Obama’s address to a joint session of Congress outlining his jobs plan, comments by the GOP Congressional leadership struck a tone of conciliation and compromise. Not so for local Republicans, who disparaged the proposal as a “second stimulus plan” by likening it to the 2009 Recovery Act.

"The stimulus didn’t work to rejuvenate our economy the first time. Another version under a different title will have the same failing effects, while piling up even more debt for our grandchildren to repay,” said NH State Republican Party Chairman Wayne MacDonald.

Rep. Frank Guinta (NH-01) released the following statement after President Obama’s address to a Joint Session of Congress this evening: … “We can’t afford to waste hundreds of billions of additional dollars on a second stimulus plan.”

Pat Garofalo reiterates the point I’ve made before, they’re wrong.

Of course, all of this criticism is based on the incorrect assumption that the 2009 Recovery Act didn’t work. But as the Congressional Budget Office has continually found, the Recovery Act created or supported millions of jobs, keeping the unemployment rate up to two points below where it otherwise would have been. At its height in the third quarter of 2010, Recovery Act funds were supporting up to 3.6 million jobs.


For the Record: The Stimulus Worked - Part 2

One of the most frequently heard GOP talking points is that the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act failed to create jobs or accelerate economic growth. They’re wrong — demonstrably wrong.

Previously I wrote that economic experts agree that the stimulus spending created around 3 million jobs. That unemployment remains high is beside the point. As Ezra Klein memorably explained, “The fact that a starving man is still hungry after eating a burger doesn’t mean the burger did a bad job.”

Last week’s revised GDP numbers provide additional proof that the stimulus spending was successful at pulling us out of the Great Recession. Moody’s chief economist Mark Zandi and Dean Baker, an economist at the Center on Economic and Policy Research, analyzed the data.

“We went from negative to positive [economic growth] at precisely the time that the stimulus was providing maximum benefit in terms of tax cuts and spending increases,” Zandi says. “The numbers actually reinforce the importance of the stimulus in jump-starting a recovery.” … 

Of course, the stimulus only lasted two years, winding down in the end of 2010. And what happened then? … The stimulus wound down, that extra government spending started disappearing, and, with it, economic growth dwindled.


For the Record: The Stimulus Worked

In his response to the latest dismal jobs report, Rep. Frank Guinta pointed to the failure of the “stimulus” spending.

June’s unemployment numbers are a sad reminder that the new middle class jobs needed for economic recovery are nowhere in sight. It is further evidence that the ‘stimulus’ driven spending spree of recent years produced little but deeper debt.”

Tell that to the millions of people who are employed who would not otherwise have jobs. Expert estimates vary over the specific number of jobs the stimulus spending created (IHS Global Insight, Macroeconomic Advisers and Moody’s Economy.com all estimate around 2.5 million), but they all agree it worked.

But though questions of how well the stimulus worked may be complicated, simply pointing out that unemployment remains high … is neither here nor there. The fact that a starving man is still hungry after eating a burger doesn’t mean the burger did a bad job.

If the stimulus created three million jobs even as the economy lost seven million jobs, the stimulus worked. If the stimulus had created one million jobs but the economy had only lost four million, people might think the stimulus had worked better because the unemployment rate would be lower, but the reality is it would have worked much worse, but seen its flaws covered by a milder recession.


CBO: Stimulus Raising Output, Lowering Unemployment

As required by law, the Congressional Budget Office has released its report estimating the impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act on employment and economic output for the third quarter of 2010.

CBO estimates that ARRA’s policies had the following effects in the third quarter of calendar year 2010:

  • They raised real (inflation-adjusted) gross domestic product (GDP) by between 1.4 percent and 4.1 percent,
  • Lowered the unemployment rate by between 0.8 percentage points and 2.0 percentage points,
  • Increased the number of people employed by between 1.4 million and 3.6 million, and
  • Increased the number of full-time-equivalent jobs by 2.0 million to 5.2 million compared with what would have occurred otherwise.

No word from Sen.-elect Kelly Ayotte who claims the Recovery Act failed to stimulate private-sector jobs and any remaining stimulus money should be applied to the deficit, Rep.-elect Frank Guinta who says the “failed stimulus was a waste of our money,” or Rep.-elect Charlie Bass who insists, “We never should have passed the trillion dollar jobless stimulus bill.”


Tax Cut Keynesianism and Other Fallacies

Jonathan Chait points out the intellectual dishonesty of Republicans who justify extending the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy by claiming it’s especially harmful to raise taxes during a recession. Call it, tax cut Keynesianism.

Basically, if you believe that recessions are bad times to raise taxes, then you should also believe they’re a bad time to cut spending. Alternatively, if you reject the Keynesian model, then you might think raising taxes is bad, but there’s no particular reason to think raising taxes during a recession is especially problematic.

The conservative rhetoric about raising taxing during a recession amounts to an ideologically incoherent pastiche of mutually exclusive theories. It literally makes no sense at all.

And who better to offer up an incoherent pastiche than our very own Sen.-Elect Kelly Ayotte:

“It’s the wrong philosophy to raise taxes during these difficult, economic times.”

Ayotte said the stimulus only created “temporary or government” jobs and more taxpayer-paid spending hurt the economy as national unemployment increased by 2.5 million jobs.


Guinta Apes GOP Anti-Science Talking Points

Each day, 1st District Congressional candidate Frank Guinta picks out a Republican spending cut proposal and repackages it as his own self-proclaimed “innovative” and “groundbreaking” initiative.

Yesterday, he recycled a proposal from Sens. Coburn and McCain calling for the removal of taxpayer funds for a scientific research project helping fight drug addiction by studying how the brain chemistry of addiction works.

Guinta call it “stimulus monkey business.”

“We’re using federal stimulus money to watch what happens when monkeys get high,” said Guinta. “Do I really need to say anything else?”

The funding in question is a $71,623 grant for Wake Forest University researchers to study monkeys for the effects of cocaine on a particular neurotransmitter, glutamate. Recent studies show glutamate may be responsible for drug users becoming addicted.

This research on cocaine monkeys is meant to determine how the parts of the brain that use glutamate change during and after exposure to cocaine. The idea is that knowing this will help develop more effective treatments for cocaine addiction — in people, not in monkeys.

"Clearly, drug addiction is a serious problem facing our country, and finding new medical treatments is a high priority," NIH director Francis Collins tells me. “I don’t know if the critics want us to experiment with humans, or just give up on the problem of drug addiction, but we aren’t going to do either.”

Cross-posted to Blue Hampshire


Ayotte: Rescind $65 Billion in Middle Class Tax Cuts

Former moderate Kelly Ayotte now seems intent on proving she never met a right-wing talking point she didn’t like. Yesterday, she expressed support for canceling the stimulus and applying the unspent funds to pay down the deficit. 

As the law-and-order candidate delivered fiscally conservative promises, she maintained the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 failed to stimulate private-sector jobs. She said any remaining stimulus money should be applied to the deficit.

As I’ve said before, The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act includes $288 billion in tax benefits, cutting taxes for 95 percent of working Americans. $65 billion of these tax benefits have not yet been spent. Ayotte’s plan to cancel the stimulus eliminates $65 billion of middle class tax cuts.


Mahoney Doubles Down on Bridge Demagoguery

The right-wing echo chamber has latched onto Sean Mahoney’s “Bridge to Nowhere” shtick. Friday night, Mahoney and his web video were featured on the Fox faux business channel (Part 1, Part 2). But as the truth about the historic bridge preservation project comes out, Mahoney is struggling to mold his hyperbolic rhetoric to the facts:

  • Mahoney concedes “when it came to this bridge, it was really [a] historical preservation project… This was not a transportation project.” If he’s conceding the project has value other than for cars and trucks to cross the river, doesn’t that negate all the histrionics over fact that “it doesn’t go anywhere?”
  • Mahoney concedes jobs were created to repave the bridge.
  • Mahoney states a preference for the “local community” raising money for the project through a bond issuance. So it’s an absurd waste of taxpayer money in one case, but appropriate in the other?
  • Host David Asman repeats Carol Shea-Porter’s response that “…the local community and the people of both political parties who reviewed this project supported it” and then asks, “Is that true, Sean?” The correct answer is “yes,” local voters overwhelmingly approved the bridge repair in March. So here’s how Mahoney answered: “The reality is that my opponent Carol Shea-Porter has voted over 95% of the time with Nancy Pelosi…” Nice.


Mahoney Proposal Raises Middle Class Taxes

Those tax-and-spend Republicans are at it again. 1st Congressional district candidate Sean Mahoney

wants to cut government spending…stopping payment on the so-called stimulus law, which has failed to create jobs, and using the money to pay down the federal debt.

He repeats it like a mantra, over and over on the campaign trail.

His plan raises middle class taxes.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act includes $288 billion in tax benefits. These benefits include the Making Work Pay tax credit (which provides up to $400 to working individuals and $800 for working married couples this year), COBRA Continuation Coverage Assistance, and tax incentives for businesses. These benefits cut taxes for 95 percent of working Americans.

$65 billion of these tax benefits have not yet been spent.

Sean Mahoney’s plan to cancel the stimulus eliminates these tax benefits and raises middle class taxes. So much for “common sense solutions.”

Cross-posted to Blue Hampshire


Miscellany Blue