Senators Coburn and McCain Highlight Stimulus Waste

U.S. Senators Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK) and John McCain (R-AZ) today released a new oversight report: “Summertime Blues: 100 Stimulus Projects that Give Taxpayers the Blues.”  The report, a third in a series, highlights questionable stimulus projects that are wasteful, mismanaged, and overall unsuccessful in creating jobs. 

The projects featured in the report cannot be considered as an
investment in long-term priorities to create and sustain economic growth
that the Stimulus was designed to do. 

Coburn and McCain write in the report:

“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 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 Pittsburg, PA that even Governor, Ed Rendell called “a tragic mistake”
•   $1.9 million for international ant research
•   $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
•   $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

The is reporting that Jared Bernstein, Biden’s chief economic adviser, said McCain and Coburn’s report was an "inaccurate and misleading attack on programs that are putting Americans to work across the nation."

"[I]t’s very unfortunate that, once again, instead of trying to help create the conditions for stronger growth, to help build on the momentum of the Recovery Act, McCain and Coburn spend their valuable time cooking up phony critiques and, with their Republican colleagues, blocking votes of even bipartisan measures to help small businesses," Bernstein wrote on the White House blog.

The new report is the third in a series of reports by Coburn and McCain on the stimulus, which Republicans of all stripes have attacked as a spending boondoggle that’s done little to create jobs — despite administration claims otherwise. 

To read the entire report from Senators Coburn and McCain, click here.