Stimulus Bill Raises Questions | Citizens Against Government Waste

Stimulus Bill Raises Questions

The WasteWatcher

As the current version of the stimulus bill awaits a Senate vote and President Obama’s signature, there are still plenty of questions and concerns about whether it will in fact stimulate the economy and create jobs.  As House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) states on his website, “We need a bill that creates jobs....” One would think that this would be the goal, except it’s not always the case with this stimulus package.

Proposals include $1 billion for the Periodic Censuses and Programs to follow-up the 2010 Census and $300 million for the General Services Administration to buy motor vehicles with higher fuel economy, including plug-in and alternative fuel vehicles.  Government employees driving around in new cars or funds for a census a year from now will not help lift the country out of its 14-month recession, and neither will the planned millions in taxpayer funding for renovations of federal office buildings.  $200 million is set aside for the Department of Agriculture (USDA) facilities; specifically, $24 million for construction, repair, and improvement at the USDA buildings and $176 million for renovating the Agricultural Research Service buildings. 

Within the conference report of the stimulus plan, $500 million is planned for the Social Security Administration to establish a new National Computer Center.  While the House Appropriations Committee has claimed that “an estimated 400 jobs will be created during the construction process,” the concern here is that the cost per job would be $1.25 million, money that could be more wisely spent.

$650 million is designated for the Digital-to-Analog Converter Box Program, in particular for additional coupons for customers.  The coupons, priced at $40 each, should be paid for by affected Americans at their own discretion.  It is also highly doubtful that this program will create enough jobs to justify it’s placement in the stimulus bill; the $650 million could be better utilized elsewhere.

There is also funding for one perpetually inept and Congressionally favored boondoggle – Amtrak.  The railway company, which consistently loses money and is already federally subsidized, would be given $1.3 billion to help reduce its $10 billion capital backlog.  In addition, $8 billion is designated for the construction of a high-speed railway. 

Although a railway would expand public transportation, these projects are not within the scope of the stimulus.  The intended aim is to incite the economy.  Taxpayers are now faced with a bill that is bogged down with projects and proposals that do not belong in a stimulus bill, thereby decreasing its effectiveness and the chances or the desired outcome – a revived economy.

-- Deirdre Clark

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