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Criticism of the Jobs Summit, Even Before It Starts

Today's roundup of stimulus coverage:

Business leaders, economists and politicians are packed into the White House today for President Barack Obama's jobs summit, but The Washington Times reports on those who didn't make the cut for the guest list. Missing, writes Kara Rowland, are representatives from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Federation of Independent Business. Their absence, she writes, is indicative of a lack of diversity of opinions at the summit, since both groups have been critical of the proposed health care reform. The White House would not say for the record how it came up with the list of those to include.

House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, R-Va., hopes Democrats are willing to reach across the aisle to take some Republican ideas for job creation. In a speech on Wednesday, (reported on here by The Free Lance-Star of Fredericksburg, Va.), Cantor said he wants to see a "no-cost jobs plan" that freezes federal spending and eases regulations on small businesses.

Politicians aren't the only ones weighing in on jobs. Transportation officials rolled out a series of shovel-ready construction projects on Wednesday, telling Congress, "These 'ready to go' projects are a great way to put people back to work, quickly and efficiently." Nationwide, unemployment in construction trades is at 18 percent, reports The Detroit News.

And as Obama hosts the jobs summit, Time reports that Congress is indeed eyeing a jobs stimulus. Some sort of jobs bill is bound to get passed, reports Jay Newton-Small, but it's uncertain what it will look like. A few proposals he lists: a $3,000 tax credit per new hire for small businesses (which Obama campaigned on), a $2 billion fund to help homeowners avoid foreclosure, and a $600 million fund to subsidize workers who volunteer to have their hours cut back to avoid company layoffs.

The Wall Street Journal's Louise Radnofsky reports that the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board is reviewing what caused the numerous mistakes in its October report, which claimed the stimulus had created or saved 640,000 jobs. Those mistakes, which brought heavy Republican criticism, include jobs reported in nonexistent congressional districts and jobs that were actually just pay raises for existing jobs. Earl Devaney, the board's chairman, tells the Journal that "there's more than enough embarrassment to go around." If only there had been some sort of warning that this might happen.

Finally, there's trouble a-brewing in California, which as of mid-November had yet to spend a single dollar of the $226 million it was awarded in energy-related stimulus money, The Orange County Registerreports. The state auditor criticized (PDF) California's Energy Commission for being "slow in developing guidelines, issuing requests for proposals, and implementing the internal controls needed to administer the Energy Program." The auditor adds that the state is at risk of seeing the federal government spend the funds elsewhere, or awarding them "in a compressed period of time," which would increase the risk of misuse. But the report's juiciest bits come in the auditor's reaction to the response issued by the Energy Commission, which the auditor calls "misleading." Slap!

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