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Ben Stein And Neil Cavuto Echo Republican Attacks On Obama’s “Shovel Ready” Comments

Reported by Guest Blogger - October 17, 2010 -

By Brian

Last week, President Obama said in an interview that there’s “no such thing as ‘shovel ready’ projects.” As The New York Times reported, Obama meant that he had learned that local bureaucratic procedures delayed those project a lot longer than anticpated. Despite White House statements confirming Obama's belief in the stimulus package, Republicans spun Obama’s remarks as a flip-flop and/or an admission the stimulus failed. Not surprisingly, the same "failed stimulus" spin appeared on Fox News when Ben Stein visited your World Wednesday (10/13/10).

Cavuto opened the interview by asking, “Then what, indeed were they shoveling?”

Stein said, "It's just a union-promoting trick. It's an election-promoting trick… Public works have never been a major way to get us out of a recession or depression. There's this myth that high school students believe, if they're not very good high school students, that the WPA and other kind of public works projects got us out of the Great Depression. That's totally not true. They're a very, very inefficient way of spending money… Most of it goes to machinery. Most of it goes to the unions. Most of it goes to a few top guys in the contracting firm. You get very few jobs out of each dollar you spend on public works."

Stein’s assessment is debatable, to say the least. According to Infoplease, the jobless rate in 1932, Herbert Hoover’s last year as president, was 23.6%. In 1934, under FDR and his New Deal, the rate dropped to 21.7%. In 1936, it was 16.9%. In 1938, it was 19%. In 1940, it was 14.6%. But Cavuto did not challenge Stein’s claim.

Stein also said it’s “largely a myth” that our infratstructure is crumbling. But experts say otherwise. In 2009, a report by the American Society of Civil Engineers gave a D grade to the country’s infrastucture. Once again, Cavuto did not challenge Stein's claim.

Stein followed up with a recitation of the GOP mantra: “Giving the money back to the taxpayers with lower taxes, or at least not raising taxes, is the way to go.”

He finished with an attack on Obama over “this phony idea that (the U.S. Chamber of Commerce was) getting foreign money. That’s just nonsense. He just made that up."

No he didn't. Think Progress has a detailed explanation behind the allegation. But again, Cavuto accepted Stein’s pronouncement unquestioningly.

Cavuto did take time to praise a hypothetical Stein presidency. "You would make a good President. You're press conferences would be hysterical… They'd be witty as well."

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