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Stimulus Sign Backfire?

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By Doug Powers  •  July 15, 2010 03:54 PM

**Written by guest-blogger Doug Powers

Earlier today, Drudge headlined an ABC News story about how many millions of taxpayer dollars are being spent on stimulus signs. Not stimulus projects, but just the signs to let everyone know where their money is being spent, whether it needed to be or not. I haven’t been able to find how many jobs have been “saved or created” merely by putting up signs saying the government is saving or creating jobs, but I’m sure the number is substantial.

Some are calling this a political move (duh) — that placing more and more of these signs in an election year will help the Democrats who helped pass the Recovery Act. I heard one person say, “They’re basically big yard signs for Democrats up for re-election.”

Are they?

One morning, as I sat still amid a throng of idling cars occupied by frustrated drivers on the verge of road-rage, I looked down the road a bit, and proudly displayed in full view in front of a construction site where nobody was working on a 65-degree sunny morning was a sign just like this one:

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From a political sales perspective, I’m not sure it’s going to help Democrats at all — it could have the reverse effect. Putting up all these signs could be the biggest mistake the Obama administration has made so far — and that’s saying something. There’s nothing worse for a politician than to put a sign up to remind everybody exactly who it was that caused them to be late for work and ticked off that morning. Especially in an area that nobody’s been working in for quite some time and wasn’t in disrepair in the first place, as was the highway I was driving on at the time.

Even if you’ve never been in a stimulus-induced traffic jam, there have been enough Porkulus horror stories out there for long enough that it should make any sane politician, if there are any, very hesitant to take credit for them.

Obama putting up “Recovery Act” signs that are synonymous with his administration in full view of the accompanying traffic jams combined with the tales of waste we’ve read about for a long time has all the sales impact of placing Alpo billboards in front of pet cemeteries if you ask this voter.

Road work is a necessary inconvenience (well, often it is anyway), but taking credit for extreme traffic backups is just plain stupid — which is why traffic jams have never been “sponsored” before, and probably never will be again when or if the geniuses behind Hope, Change, Gumdrops, Rainbows and Unicorns figure this out.

In other words, when we look at a stimulus sign, the president wants us to see a positive symbol of progress, like this:

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And what we’re really seeing is this:

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**Written by guest-blogger Doug Powers

Twitter @ThePowersThatBe

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Categories: Barack Obama, Health care, New York Times, Paul Krugman