Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Tom Coburn's independent report on the Stimulus

Tom Coburn has a really good (and witty) report on his website that details some of the best Stimulus projects.

"I see Stimulus checks..."

Some of these projects that he's identified as Top 100 Projects I actually support. For instance, repairing a boardwalk in Delaware with $1 million sounds like a great Stimulus project to me because of the economy activity generated by active boardwalks. However..some of these are just insane and I'm glad that at least Coburn is talking about them.

1. Residents in Perkins, OK are actually paying a 60% increase in utility fees due to the city getting Stimulus funds for a wastewater treatment facility that the State was going to pay the full $5 million for until the city got Stimulus funds for it. Because of the stipulations attached to the funds, the cost for the project went up to $8 million while the Stimulus funds were only $1 million, leaving the small town of Perkins to pick up another $2 million.

2. $1 Billion with a B to FutureGen, an Illinois company that was a crony of Blagojevich's as well as Chairman Obama, that has a plan to build a clean coal power plant using technology that was cutting edge 5 years ago. Sounds like a great plan except the only problem is that it is not economically feasible due to major technological advances made towards clean coal that are much better than the plan for this facility.

4. A backup runway for Jack Murtha Airport in Johnstown, PA aka the "Airport to Nowhere." Stimulus funds break down like so: $18 million for a backup runway large enough to land any plane in the U.S., $7 million for a traffic control tower, a $14 million hangar, and an $8 million radar system. The only problem: The airport gets 20 passengers a day. In fact the only thing the airport won't have is airplanes with anyone in them. Even more insane, this isn't even the beginning. Since 1990 this airport has received over $150 million in federal funding.

5. $3.4 million for a turtle crossing facility along US 27 in Florida. The highway has the highest incidence of turtle roadkill deaths in the world, but that has virtually been eliminated by a fence that the locals have put up. Now the Stimulus is giving them millions to reinforce the fence and do a tunnel under the road for the turtle crossing. Tom Coburn quips, "Why did the turtle cross the road? To get Stimulus money."

7. Over $1 million for a public safety guardrails at nonexistent Optima Lake in the Oklahoma Panhandle. At least the good thing is that if someone is devious enough to get through the Stimulus guardrail, they probably won't drown from falling into Optima Lake. Coburn's document includes a photo of nonexistent Optima Lake as well as this description from the Army Corps website: "The water level in the lake has never reached normal pool. Visitors should be aware that the lake's level can be very low. Depending on rainfall and evaporation rates, the lake may offer no water-based recreation and may not be suitable for swimming, fishing, boating or other activities. Visitors should come for the quiet natural setting-with or without water in the lake area.”

9. Ten thousand Social Security Administration checks to deceased people. Some who were never even in the SSA system, such as Italian, Romolo Romonini, and a check for a James Hagner's mother, who has not been in the system since the Johnson administration. Coburn includes a picture of the little kid from The Sixth Sense with the caption, "I see Stimulus checks..."

10. The Town of Union, NY is getting $600,000 for a homeless problem that it doesn't have, money that it didn't apply for, and doesn't know what to do with because it does not even have city services for a nonexistent homeless population. HUD told them to get creative to solve their homeless problem, but the only homeless problem Union, NY has ever had was finding a home for this Stimulus money. The problem was solved by absorbing it into an existing program, which helped them avoid having to increase their work force. The only problem that was solved here, creatively, was how to spend money that they have never gotten before, never asked for before, and have no purpose for.

Let's have a round of fawning over Chairman O.

No comments: