Eighteen months ago, Democrats in Congress voted for $816 billion in new spending and tax provisions the Democrats claimed would “create and save 3 to 4 million jobs, jump-start our economy and begin the process of transforming it for the 21st century.” The only thing bipartisan about this legislation was its opposition, but even still, the Democrats forced this irresponsible spending package through with no Republican support.
Now, over a year and a half later, the unemployment rate is higher, the national debt is bigger, Congress is still voting to extend unemployment benefits, hardworking families are still losing their homes and Democrats are still calling for billions more in suspect spending to jump-start the economy. With these results, it is no surprise the American taxpayers have started to question where the $816 billion went, and why it didn’t do what was promised. In a recent oversight report released by Senators Tom Coburn and John McCain, we find a very clear and troubling picture of where some stimulus funds went.
The senators’ report includes information on 100 projects that they see as dubious uses of taxpayer dollars that likely did little to create jobs, including:
— $144,000 to study how monkeys react when under the influence of cocaine.
— $677,000 to study how monkeys react when some of them are treated better than others.
— $1.9 million for The California Academy of Sciences to send researchers to East Africa and islands in the Indian Ocean to document the “vast majority of ant species from [Africa].”
— $253,000 for The North Carolina State University Insect Museum to enhance its bug storage capabilities. (I guess it’s not surprising that this museum averages only 44 visitors a year).
— $112,000 for Columbia University so that three high school students and three college students can study “alcohol epidemiology.”
— $90,000 for the town of Boynton, Oklahoma, to replace a sidewalk that leads to a ditch.
The President reported that the stimulus package would create or save over 3 million jobs in the next two years. It’s been a year and a half, and according to the June 2010 unemployment numbers released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Tennessee’s unemployment rate is 10.1 percent. In February 2009 when the stimulus was signed into law, the unemployment rate in Tennessee was 9.1 percent. Any way you cut it, we are headed the wrong way.
With nonsense stimulus projects such as an $893 million renovation plan for the Department of Commerce Building (the same Department of Commerce that doesn’t seem to know how to promote commerce), it is no wonder the American people are questioning what the heck government is doing. I still believe there are responsible ways to promote job growth and stimulate the economy, but we sure can’t continue down this path of reckless spending. It seems that proponents of this bill thought that if you threw enough money out there, things would get better, regardless of where the money went. We know this just isn’t true.
Rep. Phil Roe (R) represents the First Congressional District of Tennessee.