One year after the stimulus

February 16, 2010 1:58:35 PM PST
It was one year ago today that the federal economic stimulus bill became law. There's no question the Obama Administration steered the country out of a deeper recession. But the deeper question is whether they're steering the country into the clear.

On that, the jury is still out.

But today, the White House sent out a host of reps to tout the stimulus' success. From cabinet secretaries to Joe Biden, to the President himself - they fanned out across the country to make the case for what they've accomplished with the $787 billion bill.

Mr. Obama, ticking off liberals but not surprising anyone because of his past support for nuclear power, today announcing $8 billion in guaranteed loans to build two new nuclear reactors in Georgia. They will be the first new reactors built in this country since the Three Mile Island partial core meltdown in 1979.

Nuclear accounts for 20% of the country's energy, and it makes sense on so many levels, if you ignore the two reasons it doesn't make sense: How to safely store the radioactive waste, because plutonium, after all, is forever; and how to guarantee that the nuclear plants themselves are safe and don't leak.

It's all a crap shoot, of course. And there are intellectually honest people on both sides of the issue. Today, the President took his position on one side.

There are some who would argue that the President, contrary to his campaign promises, has not put enough of the stimulus money into alternative energy sources. Solar is one of them. Full disclosure: I have a solar power system at my house; I'm now, these stormy and cloudy days aside, now coming close to generating as much electricity as I use each year. There are all sorts of incentives to put in solar - including the utility picking up some of the price tag.

The government has various programs - but the hard truth is the homeowner has to cough up some of the money. Why not have no-interest loans set up to offer homeowners the capital costs of installing solar, with the payback coming from the monthly electricity savings? That would create jobs. It took a couple of weeks, with lots of peeps working, to install my panels and system.

Think if every house had that? How many jobs would that create? And how much energy would we save? I'm just sayin'.

Meanwhile, Vice President Biden, out on the hustings pushing the President's policies, acknowledged it's "taking a while" for the nation's economy to "get out of this ditch." But he insisted that the stimulus bill is laying a foundation for long-term economic growth.

We'll have the latest on the economy, tonight at 11.

Also at 11, reaction tonight to the U.S. Dept. of Justice decision not to file civil rights violations against three NYPD officers who killed Sean Bell in a 50-shot barrage outside a strip club in 2006. The three cops were acquitted in a state trial, now federal prosecutors, after what they describe as a "careful and thorough review," decided not to prosecute the officers. The NYPD will now conduct its own internal investigation.

And we'll have the latest on the capture of Mullah Baradar, the number two Taliban leader. "This is a huge catch," a senior administration official told ABC News. "We haven't had something like this since the start of the war."

Baradar, number two behind Mulah Omar, was captured last week. The New York Times had the story, but held it, at the request of the White House. Since then, sources say, Baradar has been cooperating, and the Administration worried that if word of the capture got out, he might clam up. The Times broke the story on its website last night and on the front page of the paper this morning.

There's one other bit of intelligence that might be fascinating: Does Baradar know where Osama bin Laden is?

We'll have the latest, tonight at 11.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Lee Goldberg's AccuWeather forecast (is this "nuisance" storm over?), and Scott Clark with the night's sports. I hope you can join Liz Cho and me, tonight at 11.

BILL RITTER


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