Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Reasons You Should be Furious about "Stimulus"

Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK), the Medical Doctor turned politician has a reputation of being "Dr. No." Coburn does not take this as an insult, but sees it as a badge of honor. This fiscal conservative has been angry about waste in government and has championed responsibility for since winning his seat. The Senator has released a report examining the 100 worse projects to come from President Obama's stimulus package.

The study is must reading, the following are just a few of the worst examples of waste:
  • "Free" stimulus money results in higher utility rates for residents in Perkins, Oklahoma. The Perkins Journal notes "The good news: Perkins is receiving money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for its new waste water treatment plant. The bad news: ARRA funds come with strings that will increase project costs by 25 percent." Perkins was "shovel ready" when they applied for its grant to get $1.5 million of the $5 million to renovate the plant. To get the money, the city would have to comply with new regulations. The Journal notes those requirements include: "ARRA requires that projects use American-made materials rather than the lowest cost materials and pay workers based on a prevailing wage survey that can result in higher than average wages in certain areas. The total cost of the project has increased from $5.26 million to $7.2 million, offsetting any benefit from the grant with higher overall costs."

  • FutureGen: The Stimulus Earmark that Wasn't, Becomes the Costliest Pork Project in History. In spite of assurances that the stimulus was about the economy growing and not political pay back, there was something amiss with FutureGen. The Washington Post notes that "Deep inside the economic stimulus package is a $1 billion prize that, in five short words, shows the benefits of being in power in Washington...The funding, for 'fossil energy research and development,' is likely to go to a power plant in a small Illinois town, a project whose longtime backers include a group of powerful lawmakers from the state, among them President Obama."

  • Little-Used "Shovel Ready" Bridges in Rural Wisconsin Given Priority over Widely Used Structurally Deficient Bridges. Coburn's study reports: "Wisconsin has 1,256 structurally deficient bridges, which more than the number in Florida, Colorado, Arizona and Alaska – combined. Instead of repairing these bridges, $15.8 million in transportation stimulus money will be used repair 37 rural bridges that hardly anyone uses. On average, the 37 rural bridges carry little more than 500 vehicles a piece each day, with several that typically see fewer than 100. One bridge along River Road in Iowa County carries no more than 10 cars a day, but will receive nearly $430,000 for repairs."

As stated earlier, the study reviews 100 different projects, at a total cost of $5.5 billion. Coburn doesn't attempt to judge the worthiness of all the projects, instead he points out their fatal flaws. This "worst" 100 provides great information to anyone who wants to pursue the government as a solution to our economic woes. Reading it will make anyone think twice.

Kevin Price is Host of the Price of Business, the longest running show on AM 650 (M-F at 11 am) in Houston, Texas and on AOL Radio. His articles often appear in Chicago Sun Times, Reuters, USA Today, and other national media. Steve Moore of the Wall Street Journal calls Price the “best business talk show host in the country.” Find out why and visit his blog at www.BizPlusBlog.com and his show site at www.PriceofBusiness.com. You can also find Price on Strategy Room at FoxNews.com.

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