Like weeds, the orange and green signs intended to help members of Congress and President Obama win re-election are sprouting all over the country.
"Putting America to work," proclaim the orange section of the signs. Below that, in green with white lettering, are the words "Project Funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act."
The signs have just one purpose - to inform those passing by that public works projects are funded by the $787 billion federal "stimulus" program. Clearly, the idea behind them is that voters will feel grateful to Congress and President Obama for the program - and, at the next opportunity, will vote to re-elect lawmakers and the president.
It is nothing new, of course, but that doesn't make it right. We all are familiar with similar signs, with the same purpose, posted at jobsites where government funds are involved.
How much money is being spent for the "stimulus" signs? We don't know - but to judge by the size of the stimulus program itself, a substantial amount of money is being devoted to the campaign signs.
How much good could that money have done had it not been earmarked for the signs? Plenty.
After Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma criticized the big signs being put up in his state, by the way, Jill Zuckerman of the federal Transportation Department, told The Associated Press that each state decides for itself whether to use stimulus money for signs.
But consider this FAQ from the Federal Transportation Authority that is for recipients of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act funds:
''Are FTA grantees required to display any special signs or logos to identify ARRA funded projects?
''Yes.... The grant agreement for each FTA ARRA grant includes a special condition as follows: Emblems: The Recipient agrees to use signs and materials that display both the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act) emblem and the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program emblem to identify its project(s) financed with Recovery Act funds that are provided by U.S. DOT in a manner consistent with Federal guidance, and to include this provision in any subagreements, leases, third party contracts, or other similar documents used in connection with its Recovery Act Project(s).''
The "stimulus" program ostensibly is intended to create jobs.
By like so much in which the government is involved, the law creating it very obviously had a strong political component.