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January 27th, 2010
07:00 AM ET

Angry voters sound off on stimulus

By Bob Ruff and Carol Costello, CNN

How angry are some voters in Youngstown, Ohio?

Here's a clue. Remember that NY Daily news headline, "Ford to New York: Drop Dead"?

It was October of 1975. President Ford was refusing to bail out financially struggling New York City. Voters were furious when the president said he'd veto any bill that aimed to help out the city with its budget woes. He suggested bankruptcy as a better option for the nation's largest city.

Flash forward to 2010. Youngstown, Ohio, a much smaller city, is also struggling mightily with its economy. So we couldn't help but recall the Daily News when we saw this headline recently from the online edition of the Vindicator, a newspaper based in Youngstown: "HUD to Mahoning Valley: Drop Dead"

What's it all about?

Youngstown's once thriving manufacturing base has disintegrated. The city has been in an economic black hole for decades. It's hard to miss the abandoned buildings and foreclosed homes. So, when the Recovery Act, also known as the stimulus bill, was signed by President Obama, cities like Youngstown were hopeful that they'd get a big enough piece of the pie to help them through their financial troubles.

As stimulus funds were distributed to states and localities throughout the year, Youngstown discovered that it had been turned down on one of its requests, funding through HUD's (Department of Housing and Urban Development) "Neighborhood Stabilization Program." That $2 billion program is designed to dole out money to cities so that they can rehabilitate abandoned neighborhoods.

The HUD denial shocked the eastern Ohio community.

"It literally defies belief and explanation," Youngstown's Mayor Jay Williams told

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, a Democrat whose district includes Youngstown, told he was "stunned…for us to be this blatantly shortchanged is outrageous."

We decided to go to Youngstown to find out more.

Voters there are angry. Mickey Wolf, jobless for a year, told us, "they ask us for their votes and they come here with a lot of promises … it's just frustrating we are in this predicament."

He's talking about Barack Obama's 14 campaign visits to Ohio in 2008, and that includes a pair of stop-overs in Youngstown.

Mayor Williams was angry too: "There is a frustration that Washington just isn't getting it."

But we also discovered there is more here than meets the eye.

While Youngstown was turned down for those rehabilitation funds, it did receive stimulus funding from other sources. Jared Bernstein, who is Vice President Biden's top economic adviser, says Youngstown already has received $52 million in stimulus funds.

That money, says Bernstein, "has certainly helped in job creation there." And while he says he wishes more could be done for Youngstown and cities like it, there's only so much money to go around. There were 482 cities and towns vying for the particular program that Youngstown lost out on – all competing for a piece of the $2 billion pie.

Filed under: Economy • The Stimulus Project
soundoff (25 Responses)
  1. RK


    "Somebody once said, "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me." The people of Youngstown, PA ...."

    Is Youngstown, PA anywhere near Youngstown, Ohio, the city that this article is referring to?

    "Presdent Obama is going to do nothing more im his State of the Union speach,"

    "President" and "Speech", I am assuming the "im" is supposed to be "in"

    You may want to look into the Federal Family Education Loans that Obama is pushing.....a little schooling may do you some good

    January 30, 2010 at 2:37 am |
  2. D. Paul Fleming

    Ok, I get it. We’ve lost our jobs. They don’t exist any more. The government needs to stimulate the creation of “New” jobs. What I don’t get is why the government hasn’t done something about to putting the brakes on corporations that continue to take what were American’s jobs over to countries with the cheapest labor. Big business is already creating jobs. The trouble is that the new jobs are supporting countries like India and China – not the U.S. We need to find ways to discourage this practice. Taxing the profits for goods and services provided by U.S. corporations with overseas labor comes to mind. Of course, it’s way to naïve and politically incorrect to challenge the greed that drives the loss of American jobs.

    January 27, 2010 at 12:27 pm |
  3. JB

    The stimulus is working, where would we be without it.

    January 27, 2010 at 10:36 am |
  4. gerri levy

    Is bankruptcy of the nation the change we want?–Yes we can.

    January 27, 2010 at 10:14 am |
  5. nancy

    @ Mimimo January 27th, 2010 6:58 am ET

    This city and others have been in trouble for decades. How do they think President Obama can fix it in just a year? What are the local and state officials doing? People are just like wayward children; don't tell me what to do but when I get in trouble bail me out.

    THANK YOU!!! great post... 🙂

    January 27, 2010 at 10:00 am |
  6. sawmillsawyer

    i like to watch morning show with john but i dont like that loud thunder sound they use in the back ground. i wish the noise would go away. i only want the news and weather. also i could care less about this punk who sings PANTS ON THE GROUND. he were buttons that say free a cop killer name troy davis. troy davis was convicted and found guilty. he should be put to dealth.

    January 27, 2010 at 9:36 am |
  7. Robert L. Byer

    I think that a good part of the problem is that the House and Senate are populated by people on both sides of the aisle who are addicted to earmarks. They insert these provisions to benefit financial contributors and political supporters, and they have the effect of bypassing the normal competitive procurement process on government purchases and taking away the Executive Branch's ability to determine the best use of the stimulus funds.

    The problem is compounded because Obama broke his campaign promises regarding earmarks. He now has gone along with them in order to buy votes in the House and Senate.

    That is why too much of the benefit of the stimulus bill is political for members of the House and Senate of both parties and not enough has gone to create jobs or stimulate the economy. The notion that an economic stimulus bill would include millions of dollars to fund the study of fossils by both the University of Chicago and the Pennsylvania State University, as CNN reported on Monday, is obscene, and this has to be the result of earmarks inserted by powerful politicians who are more concerned about their own reelection than the public good.

    Nothing creates jobs like infractructure projects, and I see too little of that and too much political pork in this program. Both Democrats and Republicans are to blame.

    January 27, 2010 at 8:56 am |
  8. paul huylebroeck

    pardon me for asking why–i know what gives–but i don't know why–makes a grown man want to cry-–the boys on wall street know how to cheat--and the guys at the top wring you out like a mop, who in the world do we turn to???????the kids in the slums are predestined bums, and the man in the street gets two times the heat, while the good life is all that he yearns to. YES WE CAN i think

    January 27, 2010 at 8:55 am |
  9. Dan Nelson Lafayette,IN

    I'd like to hear that he cares about those of us that can't work because of medical disabilities and are on social security. Social security will not increase this year so it will be another tough year for those who are sick and cannot work. I had a part time job for two and a half years until my back went out because of an accident where two TV's fell on my back in a warehouse and every once in a while i can't bend without very much pain. I'm also diagnosed as pschitzo affective with psycotic features and depression which has put me in the hospital a couple times. I would wish that he would say to those of us who can't work would receive some of the stimulus plan through medicaid which charged me $727 a month for medical services which I thought was being paid for by medicare but now I owe nearly $4000 to the hospital that I was never billed for. We the sick, poor and elderly need a stimulus plan also! Now I have another bill of $111 for my medical needs until i pay off the debt all the while my spend down adding up to make me feel like I will never get out of this hole! He needs to address those of us that are sick,poor and elderly that are having a hard time getting by with about $20,000 from social security yearly. He being a Christian man should first help the poor, sick and elderly who are having a hard time paying their bills which are increasing and social security and medicaid are not!

    January 27, 2010 at 8:44 am |
  10. Michael

    The government must act as a gigantic consumer purchasing goods and services...instead of handing money to various specific industries and companies. Large scale fixes of our roads , bridges, airports and railroads as well as our waterways and lakes, harbors and ports..... would spread money across all walks of our society, instead of stuffing the wallets of the already "fat" cats in the financial industry
    We are angry seeing the huge bonuses still being given to "failed" company's execs.
    The examples given of our stimulus dollars at work are pathetic and offensive.
    There are millions out of anybody there?

    January 27, 2010 at 8:34 am |
  11. Michael

    The government must act as a gigantic consumer ...instead of handing money to various specific industries and companies. Large scale fixes of our roads , bridges, airports and railroads would spread money across all walks of our society, instead of stuffing the wallets of the already "fat" cats in the financial industry
    We are angry seeing the huge bonuses still being given to "failed" company's execs.
    The examples of our stimulus dollars at work are pathetic and offensive.
    There are millions out of anybody there?

    January 27, 2010 at 8:27 am |
  12. John Merenda

    The frustration with President Obama is understandable. Perception is reality and millions are not experiencing any positive results of his policies and decisions. However let's look at some of the positive results over the last year. Unemployment claims have steadily declined and we avoided a depression by the painful bailout of our financial institutions. The stimulus money should begin to flow more this spring as construction sites are now ready to begin work. Let's remember that the mess we are in was created before Mr. Obama took office. This is a deep recession and many jobs will not return but new jobs will take their place over time. The president has to remember that he won the election; his is pandering to his opponents in bothe parties and the supermajority rule in the senate should be abandoned so that a majority of 51 senators can move legislation forward. Failure to move legislation has been a huge negative for the president. I predict our economy is going to surge this spring, 2010.

    January 27, 2010 at 8:27 am |
  13. joe erwin

    all we hear on the news channels about the stimulus plan is middle class this middle class that what about the poor like me that has not worked in a while and there is no good out look for a job in the near future. what up mr. president?

    January 27, 2010 at 7:50 am |
  14. arnlod

    This President has lost touch with the problems there so many promises that he has broken
    He has forgot a bout seniors no invreas they say there is no cosst of living but congress workers got a raise the people that tried to kill Americans are going to tried in U.S. court let the milertry do it and just maybe they can find out where some this people are that are trying to kill Americans.
    Sams Club and Verizon are going to let go 26,000 people go but we have to take care of heath care firstI do not think that the presient has ever been in busenss if he was i do not think he was very good at it.
    I feel very sorry that I ever voted for him all he does is blame every thing on President Bush He is not in office any fess uo your the president take some blame keep your promises and don1t avoid the question about Washingtom.everything is done behind closed doors

    January 27, 2010 at 7:48 am |
  15. Bob

    Obama had the right plan. He just didn't anticipate on having to deal with a bunch of crooks!!

    January 27, 2010 at 7:47 am |
  16. Mark

    Somebody once said, "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me." The people of Youngstown, PA are expecting too much if they expect anything from the President. 70% of them were fooled during the elections. I would hope they wouldn't be fooled again.

    Presdent Obama is going to do nothing more im his State of the Union speach, than attempt to package his agenda, to sucker us again. Sadly, that's the exact same thing a republican president would be doing.

    No one in Washington asks, "What is good for America? What does America need?" It's come down to what the democaratic or republican agenda is, and the heck with America!

    Youngstown is expecting too much if they expect anything good for them, and America, from Washington.

    Gosh, I never thought I'd have an attitude like this about our Country and government.

    January 27, 2010 at 7:46 am |
  17. marc2852

    This is ridiculous all the $ being spent on the stimulous. $ not even worth spending on. What ever happened to fixing our broken streets, full of potholes for miles at a time. Instead on waiting it on tennis courts or bird walks!

    January 27, 2010 at 7:40 am |
  18. Cherie

    I'm atleast glad to hear something about Youngstown and wish there was more about what a good place to start a business it is, as Entrepreneur magazine recognized last July. Very Low cost of living, most affordable homes in the nation , which include some older neighborhoods with some beautiful old homes in need of tlc. My husband and I bought our 1920's brick colonial across from a park for $35,000 and expect to spend some retirement years there, hopefully. Youngstown has beautiful parks, colleges and some great corned beef sandwiches!

    January 27, 2010 at 7:38 am |
  19. Robert L. Byer

    The Stimulus Project is great reporting. Congratulations. This is worthy of a Pulitzer and confirms CNN as the best broadcast/cable news service.

    I have a suggestion. Many of the projects that your series is highlighting were the result of earmarks. CNN would provide an invaluable service to Democracy by reporting (including posting on the Web) the identity of the Senator or Representative who inserted the earmark, so that the voters can evaluate whether the earmark was a good thing or an unjustifiable use of taxpayer money to fund a project with political but no economic stimulus/job creation value.

    Rob Byer
    Pittsburgh, PA

    January 27, 2010 at 7:32 am |
  20. kirk

    good morning carol .... i've always been a fan of yours .... love your smile and bubbly personality ..... but real amarica does not hang out in bars/pool halls ..... we are either working or getting rest to work ...
    if you have enough money to hang out in a bar your not doing to bad ...
    .. just saying ....
    keep up the good work

    January 27, 2010 at 7:23 am |
  21. Joel Spicola

    I started a business 2.5 years ago right at the start of the credit crunch. I generate $500k in sales and am cash flow positive! I only have one full time employee though and would like to hire more! I am happy to know the President has given incentives to banks to loan more money to small businesses to create jobs but here is where I dont think he gets it......
    As you know in order to get any of this money a person has to put their house and everything else on the line as collateral on the loan. So yes you are getting a loan but your promising your life on that loan,....

    Now lets think about it.... If i have woked for 15 years in corporate America prior to owning a business and have a little equity in my house as well a small 401 k savings (that was killed when the market crashed) why would I want to put what little I do have as a life savings on the line to help hire other people?

    I understand that the reason we got into this mess was because too many loan (both business and home) were given to the wrong people but – just think if folks like me were given the ability to loan money wihthout having to put what small life savings I do have is put on the line? It would be HUGE!

    Obama is telling banks he will now guarantee SBA loans to banks up to 90% now giving a bank more of a reason to loan money to people like me but then I have to guarantee that same loan 100% with my life savings????? So another idea is the govt. give individuals an incentive to take that life savings gamble? Maybe the govt. gives people like me an incentive to take out that loan etc??

    Not sure if I make sense but man i think I am on to something here... if every Plumber, Contractor, Advertising Agency, you name the business could get money easier..... Just think how many jobs could be created


    January 27, 2010 at 7:12 am |
  22. Mimimo

    This city and others have been in trouble for decades. How do they think President Obama can fix it in just a year? What are the local and state officials doing? People are just like wayward children; don't tell me what to do but when I get in trouble bail me out.

    January 27, 2010 at 6:58 am |
  23. Dj

    Your absolutely right we are upset. We bailed the banks out, they flipped the money and cashed out. Home modification loans are not being completed. Specifically by Bank of America, and they will not even contact you to let you know where you are at in the modification process. Very frustrating and nearing a boiling point. I hate to see what will happen then.

    January 27, 2010 at 6:51 am |
  24. john Ward

    I find it ironic; Carol Costello reporting about the problems of our present administration. It has to be so hard for her given her slanted reporting in the past two years. She obviously appears troubled having to even speak on this subject, which leads me to believe the problem goes so much deeper than she is willing to admit. Remember, we get what we ask for!

    January 27, 2010 at 6:47 am |
  25. Mike

    Why has Obama let the super majority he had go out the window? The only thing WE THE PEOPLE have to show for the YES WE CAN revolt is a roaring debt, a dead health care bill full of bribes, a wasted supermajority, problems with national security, a stimulus package that is a joke for the most part, and soon to be added to the long list of broken YES WE CAN promises– TAX INCREASES! Everything Obama has promised turned out to be a joke. If he could'nt do it with a supermajority how will he do it now. After the whole town hall fiasco and the way the health care bill was handled just reinforces the Republicans argument that the democrats can do anything right.

    2012 prediction for president / vice president (Scott Brown / Kit Bond)...

    January 27, 2010 at 6:45 am |