This morning Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK) released their third report on Stimulus spending, and it took the White House only two hours to respond. The McCain/Coburn report is entitled Summertime Blues: 100 Stimulus Projects that Give Taxpayers the Blues. It highlights “questionable Stimulus projects that are wasteful, mismanaged, and overall unsuccessful in creating jobs.”
The Senators say the projects featured in the report do not fit President Obama’s description of the $863 billion stimulus. The President pledged to spend Stimulus money on long-term priorities “to create and sustain economic growth.”
Speaking for the White House, economic adviser Jared Bernstein said the Senators had issued an “inaccurate and misleading attack on programs that are putting Americans to work across the nation.”
Bernstein was one of the chief architects of the Stimulus and is now on the staff of Vice President Joe Biden. Bernstein called the new report a “phony critique.”
According to the Senators, the Stimulus has “questionable goals,” the programs are “mismanaged or poorly planned” and instead of creating jobs they are hurting small businesses. At a press conference today, Senator McCain said: “I think all of these projects are wasteful. None of them really have any meaningful impact on creating jobs. And, of course, some are more egregious than others, but all of them are terrible.” His comments were echoed by Sen. Coburn: “The American people have awakened to the incompetency of Washington. The rest of the federal government is filled with stuff just like this.”
The introduction to the McCain/Coburn report says:
Eighteen months since the passage of the stimulus bill, millions of jobs are still gone and the economy is as uncertain as ever. The only thing getting a boost is our national debt. The Stimulus has helped push it 23 percent higher, to $13.2 trillion, a new record.
We owe it to all Americans that are paying taxes and struggling to find jobs, to rebuild our economy without doing additional harm, and to do it in a way that expands opportunities for future generations. Too many stimulus projects are failing to meet that goal.
Washington should focus on re-igniting the unmatched power of the American entrepreneurial spirit by sweeping away government red tape, expanding markets for U.S. goods, making it easier for small businesses to obtain credit, and reducing our national debt by eliminating wasteful Washington spending.
We owe it to every American to rebuild our economy without doing additional harm and in a manner that expands opportunities for future generations of Americans. Job creation should be a national priority, but torrential, misdirected government spending is not the way to do it.
Examples of wasteful projects outlined by the Senators include:
$554,763 for the Forest Service to replace windows in a closed visitor center at Mount St. Helens
$762,372 to create “Dance Draw” interactive dance software
$62 million for a tunnel to nowhere in Pittsburgh, PA that even Governor, Ed Rendell called “a tragic mistake”
$1.9 million to study exotic ants in East Africa
$1.8 million for a road project that is threatening a pastor’s home
$308 million for a joint clean energy venture with…BP
$89,298 to replace a new sidewalk that leads to a ditch in Boynton, OK
$3.8 million for a “streetscaping” project that has reduced traffic and caused a business to fire two employees
$16 million to help Boeing to clean up an environmental mess it created in 2007
$200,000 to help Siberian communities lobby Russian policy makers
$39.7 million to upgrade the statehouse and political offices in Topeka, Kansas
$760,000 to Georgia Tech to study improvised music
$300,000 to study yoga and hot flashes
$700,000 to study why monkeys respond negatively to inequity
$193,956 to study voter perceptions of the economic stimulus
$363,760 to help NIH promote the positive impacts of stimulus projects
$456,663 to study the circulation of Neptune’s atmosphere
$529,648 to study the effects of local populations on the environment…in the Himalayas