-- Item: North Dakota got $170 million and Minnesota got $502 million for highways, roads and bridges from the 2009 stimulus package.

-- Item: The Solyndra company got a $535 million guaranteed loan from the stimulus package.

WDAY logo
listen live
watch live

-- Item: "One in six highway bridges in North Dakota and one in 11 in Minnesota are rated 'structurally deficient,'" Herald staff writer Kevin Bonham reported.

You can't look at those figures without recognizing what a huge missed opportunity the stimulus bill was for the Obama administration.

If the administration had more forcefully addressed those "one in six," "one in 11" and other states' bridge deficiencies -- by the way, dams and other critical infrastructure also remain deficient -- it could be pointing today at progress made rather than money lost.

And yes, this suggestion was offered at the time. "The likelihood that a major stimulus bill will be enacted early next year creates a unique opportunity to undertake a transportation infrastructure investment program that generates good secure jobs for American workers immediately and produces long-term growth for the nation's businesses," the Bipartisan Policy Center declared in 2008.

Established in 2007 by four former Senate majority leaders -- two Democrats and two Republicans -- the center called infrastructure a signature issue, one that lends itself to a bipartisan approach.

Former Rep. James Oberstar, D-Minn. and the former chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, was another who made his disappointment with the stimulus package's direction clear at the time.

Some critics today say Republicans are "blowing the entire Solyndra mess way out of proportion," writes Charles Gasparino, Fox Business Network contributor.

But "the government wasn't supposed to be taking 'risks' with the money that Solyndra was given in the first place," Gasparino continued.

"This was 'stimulus' money. It was supposed to be spent on 'shovel ready' jobs," according to President Obama and Democratic and Republican leaders in Congress.

The package was "sold as a jobs bill to both repair our crumbling infrastructure of roads and bridges and put people back to work," Gasparino noted.

It should have been administered that way, too. And the fact that it was not is now rightly coming back to haunt the Obama administration.