The WasteWatcher: The Staff Blog of Citizens Against Government Waste

Stimulus Turns Federal Funding Spigot Into a Raging Firehose

The WasteWatcher is the staff blog of Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) and the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW). For questions, contact blog@cagw.org.


With our nation’s faltering economy, businesses, communities, and families are undoubtedly suffering.  However, they will not receive relief in the near future from the Democrat’s new federal fiscal stimulus proposal.  According to a stimulus spending outlay chart released by Appropriations Committee Republicans, only seven percent of the funding will be spent this fiscal year and 18 percent of the total funding will remain unspent until fiscal year 2014 or later.

For a bill whose impact was supposed to be immediate (think “shovels in the dirt”), this does not add up.  Instead of putting people to work immediately, Congress has instead chosen parochial projects.

The so-called stimulus package, which has bloated up to $825 billion, includes a $275 billion tax component and more than $550 billion in spending programs to be sliced and diced by the House and Senate Appropriations subcommittees.  The subcommittee with the largest allocation is Labor-HHS at $365 billion and $193.6 billion more in related spending.  However House Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.) stated in a Bloomberg News article on January 15, 2009 that he has “serious concerns about [this legislation’s] size, scope, and astronomical cost.”  He went on to say “I’m scratching my head trying to determine how items like $50 million in funding for the National Endowment for the Arts will create jobs or provide relief for families across the country.”  You and CAGW both.

This proposed spending will not only drive up an already historic national debt and will certainly overtop the $1.2 trillion deficit.  It will also create an unprecedented windfall for lobbyists, ensuring lifetime employment contracts for the horde of hangers-on that makes a living by securing scraps of federal pork-barrel projects and other spending on behalf of their growing list of clients. 

Appropriations Committee Republicans had proposed amendments to the stimulus bill in an attempt to ensure authentic, short-term, positive impacts on the economy, as well as to reduce the amount of wasteful spending.  Rep. Lewis again aptly expressed the growing doubt about the true purpose of the bill when on January 21, 2009 he asked whether the stimulus was “fostering job creation and economic stimulus or…simply growing the size of the government?”  A $358 billion portion of the $825 billion stimulus bill passed the House Appropriations Committee by a 35-22 vote with no Committee Republican support. 

On January 21, 2009 the Heritage Foundation offered constructive suggestions on how to leverage tax cuts to help revive the economy and advised Obama to not make the same mistakes as President Roosevelt.  They compared the new administration’s current forays on the how to remediate the economic downturn as alarmingly similar to Roosevelt’s misguided spending policies enacted during the New Deal, which actually prolonged the Great Depression.  Henry Morgenthau, a loyal companion to Roosevelt and former Secretary of the Treasury stated at the time, “We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work” and admitted to the failure of the New Deal. 

Congress should make an honest attempt to end the crisis, as opposed to using the fiscal situation as an excuse to bring the bacon home to their districts. 

  -- Deirdre Clark

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