When people in New York City were asked, some years back, how clean the city streets were and how clean their own streets were, the answers were fascinating. Turns out that most folks thought the city was a cesspool of filthy hypodermic-laden streets. Their own street, however, was often considered to be pretty darn good — regardless of where it was.
There may be a similar phenomenon at work with the stimulus, according to Ed DeSeve who has three separate titles in his role spearheading the distribution of Recovery Act funds. He’s an adviser to Vice President Joe Biden, a special adviser to President Barack Obama and also works directly with OMB. We’ve known him for quite a while and have always been impressed with his savvy sense of how government works (and should work). We’ll be sharing his thoughts with you over the course of time. Here’s something he said that we found illuminating, for starters:
“If you look at polls for any of the particular components of the stimulus act — whether it’s funding Medicaid, funding for teachers, etc. — there is widespread support. More than 80% of the people think these are good things. But if you ask people about the stimulus package as a whole, many don’t indicate support. Unfortunately the budget act is conflated with TARP, bank bailouts and things that the public doesn’t like. So, though they like the things money is being used for, they don’t think they like the package.”