Monday, July 06, 2009

Waste in Obama's stimulus bill

Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma released a report looking at the Porkulus bill's projects - 100 Stimulus Projects: A Second Opinion. It's worse than random. Many of its provisions can be expected to cause damage. United States Senator Tom Coburn [quote] “Rather than growing our economy, the overall impact of stimulus spending may prove to be harmful to our economy. For example, Washington’s efforts to ‘stimulate’ the economy are increasing utility costs, repairing bridges nobody uses, building tunnels for turtles, and renovating extravagant train stations in remote areas while widely-used bridges and roads in poor shape are passed over,” Dr. Coburn said. “I opposed the stimulus bill because I was concerned that 80 to 90 percent of the spending would not be true stimulus. I hope I am proven wrong. Yet, our initial findings continue to show that taxpayers are not getting the value they deserve and need,” Dr. Coburn said. Dr. Coburn added that Earl Devaney, head of the Recovery Act Accountability and Transparency (RAT) Board, estimates that at least $55 billion of stimulus funds may be lost to waste, fraud and abuse. However, the final number will likely be much higher. If stimulus funds do not promote economic growth history may indicate that the vast majority of stimulate dollars would have been better off staying in taxpayers’ pockets. Ten examples of wasteful stimulus projects in the report include: 1. $1.5 million in “free” stimulus money for a new wastewater treatment plant results in higher utility costs for residents of Perkins, Oklahoma. 2. $1 billion for FutureGen in Mattoon, Illinois is the “biggest earmark of all time” for a power plant that may never work. 3. $15 million for “shovel-ready” repairs to little-used bridges in rural Wisconsin are given priority over widely used bridges that are structurally deficient. 4. $800,000 for little-used John Murtha Airport in Johnstown, Pennsylvania airport to repave a back-up runway; the ‘Airport for Nobody’ has already received tens of millions in taxpayer dollars. 5. $3.4 million for a wildlife “eco-passage” in Florida to take animals safely under a busy roadway. 6. Nevada non-profit gets $2 million weatherization contract after recently being fired for same type of work. 7. $1.15 million for installation of a new guard rail for the non-existent Optima Lake in Oklahoma. 8. Nearly $10 million to renovate an abandoned train station that hasn’t been used in 30 years. 9. 10,000 dead people get stimulus checks, but the Social Security Administration blames a tough deadline. 10. Town of Union, New York, encouraged to spend a $578,000 grant it did not request for a homelessness problem it claims it does not have. [end quote] Read the full report.

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