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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Stop worrying and learn to love stimulus

Congressional candidate Charles Djou is among those who are still criticizing the $800 billion economic stimulus as too much money for too little impact.

That may be the case in other states, but in Hawai'i, the $1.2 billion economic footprint left by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act the stimulus is huge. A new report says the stimulus saved or created more than 5,500 jobs in the past six months. Add the multiplier jobs supported by the spending of those employed directly and the total more than triples, according to federal estimates.

Stimulus money is being spent locally on high-profile jobs like gutting and rebuilding the federal courthouse in Honolulu and replacing the old South Punalu'u Stream Bridge. And it's being used for some important jobs perpetually on the budgetary back burner, such as removing invasive species from Maunalua Bay in East Honolulu.

Djou and others say the stimulus didn't create as many jobs nationally as Democrats had promised. Others say stimulus jobs are a temporary crutch and that true prosperity only comes when private companies start hiring without the help from Uncle Sam.

Both points are correct. But that doesn't undercut the argument that the stimulus has helped heal the economy and put thousands of people to work in Hawai'i.

Now at the halfway point of the stimulus program, various project contracts will be let, and private construction will start ramping up. That's all good news.

While we agree with Djou that the growing federal deficit is a brake on future economic growth, a broken economy would have left an even costlier mess. The stimulus hastened the recovery and had an outsized impact on Hawai'i.