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Ticket Replay: Spending millions on signs advertising spending billions on Obama spending

Stimulus spending Sign

During the holiday season, as in years past, The Ticket is republishing some of our favorite items from the previous political year. This story was originally published on July 15, 2010:

You may have noticed signs like these in your community.

Since his impossible schedule prohibits Vice President Joe Biden from making it around to every stimulus spending project across the country, the government has come up with the idea of posting project signs to show your $787 billion of hard-earned future tax money at work.

Even if you no longer are at work because the national unemployment rate that was supposed to be capped at 8% by the spending is now 9.5% (higher west of the Mississippi).

Stimulus spending Sign

The signs are an idea used widely across the country but perfected in Chicago Democratic politics, where everything good carries the name of the current mayor (but none near the unemployment offices or where traffic jams might occur).

Not that any of the bright orange signs are intended to remind potential voters which elected public officials should be remembered as taking care of things come election time.

ABC News got a clever idea and started checking on how much was being spent on signs advertising money being spent to stimulate the economy. ABC's Gregory Simmons and Jonathan Karl found about $20 million -- as in, $20,000,000 -- has gone so far for signs advertising spending.

Illinois alone has spent $650,000 on stationary stimulus signs; Pennsylvania, another state with a fellow Democrat as chief executive like President Obama, spent $157,000. Virginia, which has a Republican governor, allows no such signage.

Stimulus spending Sign

The reporters found one sign outside Washington on the road to Dulles International Airport that cost $10,000 to make and erect. It advertises a runway improvement that created all of 17 temporary construction jobs.

California Rep. Darrell Issa wants an investigation into "overtly political guidance on stimulus advertising," including one regulation ordering "Barack Obama, President" on some signs involving Native American programs.

Another Republican, Rep. Aaron Schock of Illinois, launched an equally hopeless legislative bid to ban stimulus spending on stimulus signs. "I think," he said, "it's a bit of an oxymoron to spend tens of millions of dollars of taxpayer money, borrowed money, on a bunch of signs to tell them how we are spending their taxpayer money."

Although, wait one minute. With federal spending and deficits right up there with terrorism among top voter concerns these days, this autumn might not be the best time to be a politician out there posting signs to brag about how much dough you've helped shovel out the door for debatable economic benefits.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Stimulus spending Sign

Photos: Associated Press

 
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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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