Throwing your money away for phantom jobs

August 4, 2010 06:50

Senators John McCain and Tom Coburn, M.D. have issued a report on money wasted in stimulus projects. Its called Summertime Blues and list many ludicrous incidents of blatantly wasteful spending.

Summertime Blues

When Congress passed the $862 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009, otherwise known as the stimulus bill, it passed with assurances that it would stem the loss of American jobs and keep the economy from floundering. As most can see, it hasn’t.

Eighteen months since the law’s passage, 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.

The dramatic increase in government spending has not shortened the nation’s unemployment lines. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate in June 2010 was 9.5 percent, which is essentially the same as June of last year. Many economists are forecasting that the debt incurred to pay for these projects increases the risk of a greater economic downturn in the near future.

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.

As we detail in this third report in a series, some projects accomplish such questionable goals as putting in new windows at a vacant government building, replacing a new sidewalk with an even newer one, or money for a park that is only accessible by boat or plane.

Other projects that appear in the report may have merit, but are being mismanaged or were poorly planned. A biomass power plant was awarded hundreds of thousands of stimulus dollars, but may close in months. The same is true for a rail line to two professional sports stadiums— yet it is hundreds of millions of dollars over budget and only “shovel ready” because it was years behind schedule when funding came available.

Worst of all, some stimulus projects are actually costing jobs and hurting small businesses. By largely closing off access to local shops to build some of the stimulus projects, some business owners have had to cut staff hours, and let people go.

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 compete in a global market, 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.

There is no question job creation should be a national priority, but torrential, misdirected government spending is not the way to do it. Generating record-breaking national debt is not an investment in our children’s and grandchildren’s future and will not lead to any long-term recovery. – Senators John McCain and Tom Coburn, M.D.


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