Latest stimulus report fuels fight for Boxer's seat

September 17, 2010 7:48:39 PM PDT
Despite the government's efforts to stimulate the economy, California's jobless rate increased slightly in August and the latest numbers are fueling the fight for Barbara Boxer's Senate seat.

The unemployment numbers are very problematic for Democratic incumbents facing re-election. The administration is trying to show the economy is recovering and that the $800 billion in stimulus spending is working.

The White House released a list of the top 100 stimulus funded projects. One of the items making the list was $2.8 billion to retrofit the Bay Bridge and $198 million to expand the Caldecott Tunnel. But in spite of those projects in California, unemployment rose to 12.4 percent last month. In Los Angeles Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., said without the stimulus it would've been worse.

"We would have seen another eight million jobs lost," said Boxer.

At Friday's press conference Boxer was asked about a report just released on $111 million in stimulus money given to the L.A. transportation department and the Los Angeles Department of Public Works.

The city controller reports that out of that money, just 55 jobs were created so far because 87 percent of the money is still tied up in bureaucratic red tape.

Also campaigning in Los Angeles on Friday was Boxer's opponent, Republican Carly Fiorina.

"l mean how can you say you've created all these jobs when the unemployment rate continues to go up? How can you say that you've created all these jobs when a city official right here in L.A. says we can only find 50 of them," said Fiorina.

The L.A. controller's report is red meat for Fiorina. Leaving Boxer to insist the L.A. report is the exception.

"Are their issues that every single dollar that was spent was perfect? Of course not," said Boxer.

But Boxer says she's seen for herself, the people hired with stimulus dollars.

"I've met them at construction projects," said Boxer. "At the Caldecott Tunnel, all over this state?"

But according to ABC7's political analyst Bruce Cain, Ph.D., Boxer didn't take a strong position politically.

"I mean that's a hell of a campaign motto, 'If we hadn't done it, things would be worse.' Well that doesn't persuade a lot of people," said Cain.

Cain says voters will judge the success of the stimulus in very personal terms.

"People on the ground are going to judge these programs on terms of what it does for them and what it does for their neighbors and what it does for their family," said Cain.

The latest ABC poll shows 33 percent of Americans think the Obama administration is hurting the economy rather than 30 percent who think that they are helping it. And the percentage of those who thought the Obama administration was helping the economy, has fallen 9 percents points since last April from 39 percent to 30 percent.

The president's re-election may recover from the economy, but not members of Congress facing re-election in less than seven weeks.


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