Silver Buckshot Misses Target

Fact-checking Biden's Stimulus Speech

Silver Buckshot. No, that’s not Vice President Joe Biden’s new nickname. That’s his description of the stimulus package, which he clarified in a speech last night was never meant to be a silver bullet, saving the country from economic despair in a single shot. Its billions were supposed to be scattered about… like buckshot, get it?

The New York Times reports:

With the Obama administration about to begin its final push on a health care bill, it is trying in every way possible to reduce public distrust of government. Toward that end, administration officials have begun a campaign to show that the federal stimulus is an example of a program that works, hoping to reduce criticism before Congress votes on a health care overhaul.

As we’ve noted before, tracking stimulus money and job creation is tricky. Even Biden acknowledged that fact in his speech yesterday, saying it was “above my pay grade” to try to predict what the ultimate effect of the stimulus bill will be.

ProPublica, which has been closely tracking the Recovery Act, has a “context check” of Biden’s speech, holding up some of his statements and pushing back on others.

Among other discrepancies between reality and Biden’s take on it, ProPublica noted that the buckshot isn’t hitting its target. There is no relationship, they reported, between where the stimulus money is going and unemployment or poverty levels despite Biden’s assertion that one of the main goals of the Recovery Act was to “bring relief to those hardest hit by the recession.”

Makes the VP come out looking like a bit of a clay pigeon. Maybe it’s time to invest in some bullets, or at least some target practice down at the shooting range.

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Alexandra Fenwick is an assistant editor at CJR.