How Bad Does The “Stimulus” Suck?

Let Tom Coburn count the ways. As a taxpayer, you’ll have trouble believing just how bad it really is and this is only the tip of the iceberg.

A Second Opinion on the Stimulus

Earlier this year, Congress was quick to pass the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, or stimulus bill that promised to jumpstart the economy and put Americans back to work by spending $787 billion on “shovel-ready” projects across the country.

There was no question that the nation’s economic condition demanded bold action. Nor is there any question that the massive amount of stimulus spending so far has created some new jobs. Yet, as recent statistics have shown, the jobs that may have been created or saved from the stimulus are not offsetting the millions of jobs that our economy is still hemorrhaging. In my estimation, Congress chose the wrong approach to stimulating the economy by spending money we don’t have on things we don’t need. Real stimulus includes lowering the tax and regulatory burden on hardworking families and businesses, which creates good jobs for the long term.

Unemployment soared to 9.4 percent in May 2009, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), with 14.5 million Americans now out of work. These numbers are staggering, but may actually be too low. BLS also reports that “true unemployment” could be as high as 16.4 percent when adjusted for all workers that would like to work full time but are discouraged from doing so. Behind these statistics are stories of families trying to make ends meet without a steady pay check, and even those who have not lost their jobs are anxious about their own financial situation, as well as the future that they can expect for their children and grandchildren.

It is fair to say that these statistics do not tell the full story of the stimulus. Taxpayers have a lot of questions about how the stimulus is working and they deserve answers.

For example, what kinds of jobs are being created? Are these permanent jobs or seasonal and temporary jobs that will soon be gone when the project is completed? What are the merits of projects being funded with stimulus dollars? Will these projects make real improvements in the lives of taxpayers and communities or are they simply pet projects of politicians and lobbyists that never got off the ground because they are a low priority? Are some stimulus projects actually making matters worse for ordinary Americans?

Taxpayers would not be shocked to hear that millions of dollars of stimulus money are being wasted, but they might be shocked to learn the answers to these questions. After a review of thousands of projects, it is fair to claim that there are some successes, but there are also places where we need to do better.

Earl Devaney, head of the Recovery Act Accountability and Transparency (RAT) Board, estimates that at least $55 billion of the money may be lost to waste, fraud and abuse. Unfortunately, we all have come to expect waste and mismanagement when Washington spends money. But this time the expectation must be different. When ordinary Americans are laid off or lose their jobs, they are losing more than just income. They are losing their health insurance, as well as their ability to pay their mortgages, to send their kids to school, or even provide necessities like food and shelter.

This report is an attempt to look beyond the statistics of jobs created or even money wasted. It, instead, provides a closer examination of 100 projects, programs and missteps – worth $5.5 billion – some even in my own home state of Oklahoma, that are likely to fail the expectation of out of work Americans who were hoping this bill would create good jobs that they are desperately seeking so that they can provide for their families once again.

I plan on issuing additional reports on stimulus projects in the months to come in the hope that by keeping government accountable, we can provide the most value for taxpayers.

Tom Coburn, M.D.
U.S. Senator

GOP senator issues list of 100 wasteful stimulus projects

It’s no secret that Sen. Tom Coburn isn’t wild about the federal stimulus.

But on Tuesday the Oklahoma Republican underscored his displeasure with a 45-page report on 100 stimulus projects he considers wasteful, with special care for his top 10 most dubious projects. Read the complete report here.

The worst project in his view is a wastewater facility in Perkins, Okla. The town gets $1.5 million in stimulus help for the project, but it comes with enough other federal strings attached that it has forced a 60 percent rate hike, Coburn claims.

Only one stimulus project from Arizona made his list, a $5.4 million grant to the Phoenix Police Department that will likely go to ticketing equipment rather than extra cops.

Back in February, even before President Barack Obama signed it into law, Coburn released a list of 37 stimulus projects he considered wasteful.

“There was no question that the nation’s economic condition demanded bold action. Nor is there any question that the massive amount of stimulus spending so far has created some new jobs,” Coburn notes at the outset of his latest report. “In my estimation, Congress chose the wrong approach to stimulating the economy by spending money we don’t have on things we don’t need.”

Top 10 wasteful stimulus projects

Senator Tom Coburn (R – Okla), a staunch opponent of wasteful spending, has issued a report entitled 100 Stimulus Projects: A Second Opinion. The report highlights 100 of the most wasteful projects funded by the stimulus. Here are the top ten wasteful projects according to the report.

1. “Free” Stimulus Money Results in Higher Utility Costs for Residents of Perkins, Oklahoma

2. $1 billion for FutureGen a power plant that uses “cutting edge technology.” The irony of the whole project is that the costly technology being used is already obsolete.

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,” a way for animals to go under a busy road, in Florida.

6. Nevada non-profit gets $2 million weatherization contract after recently being fired for same type of work.

7. Non-existent Oklahoma lake in line for over $1 million to construct a new guardrail.

8. Nearly $10 million to be spent to renovate a century old train station that hasn’t been used in 30 years.

9. Ten thousand dead people get stimulus checks, Social Security Administration blames a tough deadline.

10. Town of Union, New York, encouraged to spend money it did not request for a homelessness problem it does not have.

See also:
Sen. Coburn Questions Stimulus Projects
New Report Cites Wasteful Stimulus Spending — Going Nowhere
Stimulus program fraught with waste, report says
Sen. Coburn questions 100 stimulus projects
Guardrail to ‘Nowhere’ Should Go, Says Coburn
Coburn: Stimulus Forces Higher Utility Rates
Some projects raise question: Where’s the stimulus?
More to Florida turtle crossing than Oklahoma Sen. Coburn claims

And here’s another “stimulus” gem that didn’t make Coburn’s list, but it proves the law of unintended consequences and that no one actually read the shameful “stimulus” bill before they voted on it.

STIMULUS WATCH: $25 check may cost you food stamps

When President Barack Obama increased unemployment benefits as part of his economic stimulus, he also made some Americans ineligible for hundreds of dollars a month in food stamps.

Under the economic recovery plan, laid-off workers have seen a $25 weekly bump in their unemployment checks as part of a broad expansion of benefits for the poor. But the law did not raise the income cap for food stamp eligibility, so the extra money has pushed some people over the limit.

Laid-off workers and state officials are only now realizing the quirk, a consequence of pushing a $787 billion, 400-page bill through Congress and into law in three weeks.

And for people hurt by the change, there’s no way around it.

See also:
Obama’s unemployment boost kicks thousands off foodstamps
How $25 Extra in Unemployment Benefits is Hurting Some
Stimulus bill adds jobless benefits; removes food stamps
Georgia Man Says Stimulus Money Costing Him
Move To Help Families May Be Hurting Others

So, here we have even more evidence that very little of the “stimulus” money has been spent so far and the money that has been spent has been spent of ridiculous Democrat pet projects that do nothing to boost the economy or ease unemployment. And, seeing as the economy is already starting to recover despite the “stimulus”, any further insane spending of money we don’t have on things we don’t need, is an unconscionable waste of borrowed money that taxpayers, present and future, will have to repay, with interest.

/in the name of common sense and basic fiscal responsibility, CANCEL THE REST OF THE “STIMULUS”, CANCEL IT NOW!

One Response

  1. […] Not Working, Time to Fix It Stimulus: New Research on Government Stimulus Spending and Tax Cuts How Bad Does The “Stimulus” Suck? Where’s The Stimulus And Why Do We Need Any More Of It […]

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