Maybe the stimulus isn’t so bad after all?

MAYBE THE STIMULUS ISN’T SO BAD AFTER ALL?…. I’ve lost track of all the labels Republican lawmakers have used to described the administration’s stimulus package, but perhaps the most common is “failure.” To hear the right tell, the recovery initiative just hasn’t done much of anything, and it certainly hasn’t created any jobs.

It’s an argument that might be more persuasive if it were true. Greg Sargent, for example, flags this item from House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence’s home state of Indiana.

More than 2,400 people are now at work on federal stimulus-funded roadway projects in Indiana, according to a state report being released today.

Covering 83 projects and listing a total payroll of $2.8 million, the Indiana Department of Transportation report details only a small fraction of the hundreds of projects so far selected for funding using the $440 million the agency received under the American Relief and Recovery Act.

Economists say it’s too early to tell whether the long-term value of President Barack Obama’s economy-boosting effort will justify its $787 billion cost. But construction executives say stimulus-funded projects certainly have created jobs and spared layoffs within the industry.

Remember, as far as Pence is concerned, those jobs shouldn’t exist. (He argued earlier this year that government spending couldn’t possibly create jobs, suggesting these jobs in Indiana must come as quite a surprise.) In fact, they wouldn’t exist for quite a long while if Pence had his way, since he inexplicably insisted the best way to deal with the economic crisis is with a five-year spending freeze.

What will be especially interesting to see, though, is how many opponents of the stimulus package suddenly discover how much they like the projects the recovery funds financed. Louisiana Gov. Gov. Bobby Jindal (R), for example, was an ardent critic of the stimulus effort, who now feels comfortable bragging to local Louisiana communities about money made possible by the recovery bill he opposed.

Indeed, this happens quite a bit. House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) hates the stimulus, except for the transportation money it brought to his district. Other House Republicans have bragged about recovery funds headed for their communities, thanks to a bill they voted in lock-step against.

So, how long until Pence starts claiming credit for some of the thousands of jobs brought to Indiana through this “failed” legislation?