Follow the Stimulus, Part 2: Stoves in Davenport, Iowa

On the blog and this morning on Good Morning America we took a look at some stimulus overhype –- a project heralded in the White House’s new “100 Days, 100 Projects” report that is not quite what it seems.

Here’s another one that is more complex than the simple idea that the stimulus bill is creating jobs or, as Vice President Biden writes in the report, that the White House is “using the Recovery Act to jump-start our economy today, while building a new foundation for the sustained economic growth of tomorrow.”

Project #55 in the report states that: “With the help of Recovery Act funding, Zeglin’s Home TV & Appliance, a locally-owned and operated company, is currently replacing stoves in Public Housing units in Davenport, Iowa, with American-made Whirlpool appliances.”

The reality: Zeglins TV & Appliance, Inc. in Davenport, recently placed an order for 160 stoves and refrigerators for public housing.

The order “is certainly helping an independent businessman like myself keep making payroll,” owner Jeff Zeglin told ABC News.

But... this was a project that had already been approved by Davenport city council to be paid for by federal monies, Margaret Murphy the Assisted Housing Manager for the city, tells ABC News.

When the stimulus bill passed, some astute city workers realized they could have some of that order paid for by the stimulus because of the American steel used in the stoves.

So the city of Davenport submitted $13,000 for 42 stoves (and installation) paid for by the stimulus.

The point is: those stoves would have been purchased and installed anyway.

Where the impact of this may be that the $13,000 in non-stimulus federal funds can now pay for something else in Davenport. Perhaps something stimulative. Perhaps not.

But again, not everything is as it seems.

This project was going to happen anyway.

-- jpt

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