Stimulating talk on the Sunday shows

STIMULATING TALK ON THE SUNDAY SHOWS…. With last week marking the first anniversary of the Recovery Act, there was a fair amount of talk on the Sunday shows about the efficacy of the stimulus. The observations were rather illustrative.

On “Fox News Sunday,” Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm (D) and Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour (R) “both agreed that President Obama’s stimulus package has made some difference in their states’ floundering unemployment rates.” On the same program, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) conceded that the recovery effort “probably did have some impact” in creating taxpayer-financed jobs in his home state.

Around the same time, on CNN, Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas (R) described the Recovery Act as “a package of relief that the states needed urgently,” which was “appropriate to stimulate the economy.” He added that the president deserves praise for having “reached out … on a bipartisan basis … to try to put something together.”

But of particular interest was the discussion on ABC’s “This Week,” when California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) and Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell (D) were asked to address the stimulus effort. Host Terry Moran showed the governors a clip of Mitt Romney trashing the recovery initiative, leading to this exchange:

SCHWARZENEGGER: Well, you know, to me I find it interesting that you have a lot of the Republicans running around and pushing back on the stimulus money and saying this doesn’t create any new jobs, and then they go out and they do the photo ops and they are posing with the big check and they say, isn’t this great? Look what the kind of — the kind of money I provide here for the state, and this is great money to create jobs, and this has created 10,000 new jobs and this has created 20,000 new jobs. And all of these kind of things. It doesn’t match up. So it’s exactly–

RENDELL: It’s hypocrisy in the highest level.

SCHWARZENEGGER: I think, you know, of my Republican colleagues, but I think it’s kind of politics, rather than thinking about only one thing, and this is how do we support the president, how do we support him and do everything that we can in order to go and stimulate the economy, get the economy back, and think about the people rather than politics.

I have been the first governor of the Republican governors to come out and to support the stimulus money because I say to myself, this is terrific, and anyone that says that it hasn’t created the jobs, they should talk to the 150,000 people that have been getting jobs in California.

MORAN: Private sector?

SCHWARZENEGGER: Yes, for the private sector and also from the public sector. I mean, if it is teachers, if it is university professors, if it is people that are building infrastructure and stuff like that. I mean in every category, there is jobs that have been created in California, 150,000. This is 150,000 people that are going home today with a check that are providing for the family, that can buy the textbooks for their kids, that are feeling wanted and needed and feeling productive. I mean, a better job, it isn’t just a job, it’s all of those kind of other things. So I’m happy that we got this money. I’m happy that we have put 150,000 people to work and there will be more people that we will put to work.

I don’t think it’s unreasonable to think Schwarzenegger is nearly as enthusiastic a proponent of the stimulus as anyone in the administration.

But in the larger context, despite polls and GOP talking points, the growing consensus couldn’t be clearer about whether the Recovery Act was effective.