(Article updated with information on tax relief savings report and United Steelworkers Union claims that China is violating trade laws.)
NEW YORK (
) -- Vice President Joe Biden's chief economist made an interesting comment trying to defend President Obama's plan to jump-start the stalled U.S. economy by paving $50 billion worth of roads. "The car ... is finally moving in the right direction, but it needs to go a lot faster," wrote Jared Bernstein, chief economic adviser to Vice President Joe Biden, in a White House blog post arguing in favor of Stimulus: the Sequel.
What's interesting about Bernstein's comment is the metaphor chosen to defend the economic stimulus package: the car. Indeed, the metaphor is enough to give a guy road rage.
I recently took a road trip from Milwaukee to Chicago where I was able to get a firsthand view of the original stimulus package: lines and lines of cars burning up their gas tanks while backed up in traffic bottlenecks caused by all the construction started after Obama's first attempt to rescue the U.S. economy with a New Deal-esque works projects. I've never spent so much time looking at the Chicago skyline, and not enjoying it. By the way, and maybe not by coincidence, where did Obama make the formal announcement about the infrastructure spending plan? Milwaukee.
It's not the traffic in the Midwest intensified by the current road-building that can really rally a traveler against the new stimulus. There are plenty of legitimate arguments, arguments that don't circle around to construction-triggered road rage, to make against the latest bid by the White House to show its hands -- to use its own metaphor -- firmly on the steering wheel of the U.S. economy.
The new stimulus plan is a not so subtle pleading for positive headlines from the newspapers during a mid-term election fight. For a president who came into office with an aura of innovation, invoking the New Deal doesn't exactly indicate that Obama's vision is unique. It's more like the latest attempt to use a well-worn presidential trope to lull the American public into awestruck acceptance. FDR ... New Deal ... Who can argue with that? The Republicans of course see the $50 billion as the latest example of a federal government and democratic administration run amok and wastefully burning greenbacks. Burning gas is more like it.
In any event, none of this is what really gets our cranky motor running.
It's the fact that the President who came into office with an aura of innovation opening up the federal wallet to build more and more roads (so White House blogger Bernstein's car can keep moving in the right direction) does nothing to get this economy headed in the right direction when it comes to a comprehensive plan to overhaul our transportation infrastructure for a greener future.
The debate over comprehensive energy legislation is almost none existent in the current fight over Obama's stimulus plan and the Bush-era tax cuts which are so dear to Republicans, and so important to Obama's rhetorical aim of showing that Republicans aren't fighting on behalf of all Americans.