No repeat of the New Deal jump-start
-Stimulus work slow at storied Oregon site
In less than four years, 17,000 around-the-clock workers tamed the roaring Columbia River, reshaping the economy of the Pacific Northwest by ensuring an abundant supply of cheap electricity. The New Deal even paid folk singer Woody Guthrie to pay homage to the dam that turned the region’s “darkness into dawn,’’ in the song “Roll On, Columbia.’’
Now, seven decades later, the Obama administration’s drive to spark another job-creating energy revolution through stimulus spending is off to a slower start - as reflected in the latest round of aid for the federal agency that runs the aging dam.
The Bonneville Power Administration received billions to expand its wind power grid. But only one of the envisioned transmission lines is underway, forecast to produce 700 jobs, and the others are years away from breaking ground.
In the end, the number of jobs created won’t come close to matching the army of impoverished loggers who signed on to mix concrete and install Bonneville’s massive turbines during the depths of the Depression.
The situation in Oregon, which has been hit hard by the recession and ranks third only to Michigan and Rhode Island in unemployment at 12.2 percent in June, is representative of larger concerns about Obama’s $787 billion stimulus plan: that times have changed to the point where no president can funnel money into infrastructure spending quickly enough to provide the major economic jolt that stimulus supporters promised.
Link to the reat of the piece.