American Action Network Aims Stimulus Misinformation At Rep. Wilson (D-OH)

October 26, 2010 10:04 am ET

The American Action Network (AAN) is peddling old distortions in a new attack ad on Rep. Charlie Wilson (D-OH).  With dizzying clown music and a long list of misleading claims, the ad attempts to confuse viewers into thinking Wilson supports expenditures like "150,000 to watch monkeys on drugs" when funding really went to research on human drug addiction treatment. At the end of this misleading litany the ad tells viewers the stimulus didn't help Ohio's economy, when unemployment in the state has fallen and the economy continues to improve. Time to leave the funhouse — AAN isn't fooling anyone.

American Action Network: "Ridiculous Stimulus"

Ridiculous stimulus! Courtesy of Charlie Wilson and Nancy Pelosi. 3 million for a turtle tunnel.  200,000 for Siberian lobbyists. Half a million to study Neptune. 2 million to study exotic ants and 150 thousand to watch monkeys on drugs. The only thing Wilson and Pelosi's stimulus didn't do?  Fix Ohio's economy. Call Charlie Wilson. Tell him to keep the tax cuts, ditch the stimulus. American Action Network is responsible for the content of this advertising.

"Turtle Tunnel" For Human Highway Safety

"Turtle Crossing" Improves Highway Safety. From the

Tallahassee, Florida -- Laugh if you will, but state transportation officials and wildlife researchers say a $3.4 million pair of tunnels under a busy North Florida highway is a serious safety project -- for people, too.


But Kevin Thibault, assistant secretary for engineering and operations in the state Department of Transportation, said the "turtle tunnel" ridicule missed a couple of salient points. First, the money won't detract from interstate highways or airports, but will come from a small "enhancement" pot that is set aside for just such work.

And second, the twin tunnels under a four-lane stretch of U.S. 27 north of Tallahassee will be big enough for a deer to scamper through -- thus making the road a lot safer for motorists who don't want to hit one at 50 or 60 miles an hour. An alligator or turtle can be a highly hazardous speed bump in the dark, said DOT spokesman Dick Kane. [, 6/21/09]

Wildlife Passage Only Uses Small Portion Of Florida's Share Of Recovery Act Dollars. From "'The federal stimulus package that was passed by Congress funded a lot of transportation and safety projects,' said Thibault. He said Florida's $1.35 billion DOT share includes about $900 million for major transportation projects, $400 million for local roads and bridges and $40 million for 'enhancement' work like the Lake Jackson tunnels." [, 6/21/09]

Highway Would Never Be Built As-Is With Today's Standards. From "Jack Kostrzewa, planning manager for the Capital Regional Transportaiton [sic] Planning Agency, and Matt Aresco, director of the Nokuse Plantation wildlife preserve in Walton County, said U.S. 27 would never be built as it is if today's environmental standards were in place 50 years ago. Aresco said about 62 species need to cross the road in the forests around Lake Jackson. 'It's a safety issue,' said Kostrezewa. 'We're trying to separate wildlife from the road.'" [, 6/21/09]

Wildlife Passages In Florida Are Common. From "Thibault said 'there are a lot of these types of crossings' around the state, for black bears, the Florida Panther and other critters trying to coexist with the intrusion of traffic, housing and business into once-wilderness lands across the state. 'There's a lot of misinformation about it. It's not a turtle crossing, it's a wildlife passage,' said Kostrezewa. 'It's a safety issue in an environmentally sensitive area.'" [, 6/21/09]

Wildlife Passage Is Popular Locally. From the New York Times:

And Florida's plan to build a wall and culverts to help turtles cross a deadly stretch of road by Lake Jackson near Tallahassee was mocked by Senator Tom Coburn, Republican of Oklahoma, in a report he issued in questioning many stimulus projects.

"Why did the turtle cross the road?" the report asked. "To get to the other side of a stimulus project."

But local advocates have sought the passage there for years, monitoring the steady stream of turtle deaths, building the temporary fence that protects turtles there now and mounting a large grass-roots campaign that eventually won state support for a more permanent "eco-passage." [New York Times, 8/17/09]


The Recovery Act "Didn't Release Money For Ant Research Directly." According to

But the stimulus didn't release money for ant research directly, and you won't find a "study of ants" in the bill's text.

Instead, the federal stimulus gave $3 billion to the National Science Foundation, which otherwise had a budget of about $6.5 billion in 2009. The foundation is an independent federal agency devoted to the progress of science. It distributed the stimulus money using the same peer-review process that it normally uses to decide which scientific research deserves funding. [, 9/20/10]

Ant Research Money Created Jobs And Funded "Big Impact" Study. In a "Truth Test" article addressing the validity of the American Crossroads ad on Michael Bennet, Denver NBC affiliate 9 News reported:

However, the two examples cited in the commercial don't remotely account for billions in government spending. This is the first time in the Truth Test's decade in existence that it has critiqued "research on ants" and the "effects of cocaine on monkeys." We are pleased to bring you this information, as it was illuminating to us as well.

The first example dealing with ants is in reality a $1.9 million grant to the California Academy of Sciences to send researchers to the Southwest Indian Ocean Islands and east Africa to chronicle some of most exotic of the 22,000 ant species worldwide. The stimulus money created 16 jobs in the process. The principal researcher on the project said, "Consider that the collective weight of all the ants in the world is equal to the weight of all the world's humans. It's a big subject with a big impact. That alone makes ants worthy of scientific study." (Source: [, 9/2/10; in text citation original]

"Monkeys On Drugs" Research For Human Addiction Treatment

Cocaine Monkey Research Conducted To Determine Best Treatments For Human Cocaine Addiction. As the Washington Post's Greg Sargent reported:

Turns out, however, that this money is actually being spent on research into how to treat drug addiction in humans. And the Obama administration is going on record forcefully defending the project, sending over a statement pointing out that drug addiction is a rather serious problem and wondering whether GOP critics would prefer that we experiment on humans instead...

This research on cocaine monkeys is meant to determine how the parts of the brain that use glutamate change during and after exposure to cocaine. The idea is that knowing this will help develop more effective treatments for cocaine addiction -- in people, not in monkeys. [Washington Post, 8/5/10, emphasis original]

The Recovery Act Created Millions Of Jobs And Boosted The Economy

The Economy Shed Almost 8 Million Jobs Under Republican Policies Before The Recovery Act Was Passed. According to economist Robert J. Shapiro:

From December 2007 to July 2009 - the last year of the Bush second term and the first six months of the Obama presidency, before his policies could affect the economy - private sector employment crashed from 115,574,000 jobs to 107,778,000 jobs. Employment continued to fall, however, for the next six months, reaching a low of 107,107,000 jobs in December of 2009. So, out of 8,467,000 private sector jobs lost in this dismal cycle, 7,796,000 of those jobs or 92 percent were lost on the Republicans' watch or under the sway of their policies. Some 671,000 additional jobs were lost as the stimulus and other moves by the administration kicked in, but 630,000 jobs then came back in the following six months. The tally, to date: Mr. Obama can be held accountable for the net loss of 41,000 jobs (671,000 - 630,000), while the Republicans should be held responsible for the net losses of 7,796,000 jobs. [, 8/10/10, emphasis added]

Based on Shapiro's research, the Washington Post's Ezra Klein created the following chart showing net job losses before and after the Recovery Act was enacted:


[Washington Post8/12/10]

CBO: The Recovery Act Created Jobs, Lowered Unemployment, And Boosted GDP. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, through the second quarter of 2010, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act:

  • Raised the level of real (inflation-adjusted) gross domestic product (GDP) by between 1.7 percent and 4.5 percent,
  • Lowered the unemployment rate by between 0.7 percentage points and 1.8 percentage points,
  • Increased the number of people employed by between 1.4 million and 3.3 million, and
  • Increased the number of full-time-equivalent (FTE) jobs by 2.0 million to 4.8 million compared with what those amounts would have been otherwise.

[CBO, 8/24/10]

Reuters: The Recovery Act May Have "Prevented The Sluggish Economy From Contracting" Between April And June. According to Reuters

The massive U.S. stimulus package put millions of people to work and boosted national output by hundreds of billions of dollars in the second quarter, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said on Tuesday.

CBO's latest estimate indicates that the stimulus effort, which remains a political hot potato ahead of the November congressional elections, may have prevented the sluggish U.S. economy from contracting between April and June.

CBO said President Barack Obama's stimulus boosted real GDP in the quarter by between 1.7 percent and 4.5 percent, adding at least $200 billion in economic activity. [Reuters via ABC News, 8/24/10]

Job Statistics Trend Shows Recovery Act Is Working. Below is a graph prepared by the Speaker's office showing net private sector job gains or losses per month since December 2007.

[Bureau of Labor Statistics via The Gavel, 10/8/10]

Princeton, Moody's Economists Say "Highly Effective" Government Response To Crisis Saved 8.5 Million Jobs. According to the New York Times: "Like a mantra, officials from both the Bush and Obama administrations have trumpeted how the government's sweeping interventions to prop up the economy since 2008 helped avert a second Depression. Now, two leading economists wielding complex quantitative models say that assertion can be empirically proved. In a new paper, the economists argue that without the Wall Street bailout, the bank stress tests, the emergency lending and asset purchases by the Federal Reserve, and the Obama administration's fiscal stimulus program, the nation's gross domestic product would be about 6.5 percent lower this year. In addition, there would be about 8.5 million fewer jobs, on top of the more than 8 million already lost; and the economy would be experiencing deflation, instead of low inflation. The paper, by Alan S. Blinder, a Princeton professor and former vice chairman of the Fed, and Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics, represents a first stab at comprehensively estimating the effects of the economic policy responses of the last few years. 'While the effectiveness of any individual element certainly can be debated, there is little doubt that in total, the policy response was highly effective,' they write." [New York Times7/27/10, emphasis added]

The Recovery Act Included Roughly $288 Billion In Tax Relief

PolitiFact: "Nearly A Third" Of Recovery Act Is "Tax Breaks To Individuals And Businesses." According to "Nearly a third of the cost of the stimulus, $288 billion, comes via tax breaks to individuals and businesses. The tax cuts include a refundable credit of up to $400 per individual and $800 for married couples; a temporary increase of the earned income tax credit for disadvantaged families; and an extension of a program that allows businesses to recover the costs of capital expenditures faster than usual. The tax cuts aren't so much spending as money the government won't get -- so it can stay in the economy. Of that $288 billion, the stimulus has resulted in $119 billion worth of tax breaks so far." [, 2/17/10]

Unemployment Has Fallen In Ohio Since The Recovery Act Began To Take Effect

President Obama's Policies Did Not Affect The Economy Until July 2009. According to economist Robert J. Shapiro: "From December 2007 to July 2009 - the last year of the Bush second term and the first six months of the Obama presidency, before his policies could affect the economy - private sector employment crashed from 115,574,000 jobs to 107,778,000 jobs." [, 8/10/10]

Ohio Unemployment Has FALLEN By 7 Percent Since July 2009. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Ohio had seasonally-adjusted unemployment of 635,765 in July 2009, and 590,809 in September 2010, approximately a 7 percent drop. [Bureau of Labor Statistics, accessed 10/14/10]

Ohio's Unemployment Rate Has DECREASED By About 0.6 Percentage Points Since July 2009. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Ohio's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in July 2009 was 10.6 percent. In September 2010, the latest data available, the preliminary unemployment rate was 10.0 percent. [Bureau of Labor Statistics, accessed 10/14/10]