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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Sen. Coburn's Report

Today, one of the U.S. Senate’s fiscal pit bulls, Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK), released a report examining 100 wasteful projects funded by the stimulus package. In his introduction to the report, entitled “100 Projects: A Second Opinion,” Coburn writes:
Earlier this year, Congress was quick to pass the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, or stimulus bill that promised to jumpstart the economy and put Americans back to work by spending $787 billion on “shovel-ready” projects across the country.

There was no question that the nation’s economic condition demanded bold action. Nor is there any question that the massive amount of stimulus spending so far has created some new jobs. Yet, as recent statistics have shown, the jobs that may have been created or saved from the stimulus are not offsetting the millions of jobs that our economy is still hemorrhaging. In my estimation, Congress chose the wrong approach to stimulating the economy by spending money we don’t have on things we don’t need. Real stimulus includes lowering the tax and regulatory burden on hardworking families and businesses, which creates good jobs for the long term. …

Earl Devaney, head of the Recovery Act Accountability and Transparency (RAT) Board, estimates that at least $55 billion of the money may be lost to waste, fraud and abuse. Unfortunately, we all have come to expect waste and mismanagement when Washington spends money. But this time the expectation must be different. When ordinary Americans are laid off or lose their jobs, they are losing more than just income. They are losing their health insurance, as well as their ability to pay their mortgages, to send their kids to school, or even provide necessities like food and shelter.
Although he opposed passage of the stimulus, Coburn contends that the purpose of this report is not to prove the legislation is failing, but instead to, “educate taxpayers, policymakers and the media on lessons that can be learned from some of the early missteps and prevent other questionable projects from moving forward.”

At about 45 pages, the report will take significantly less time to read that the 1000-plus page stimulus bill. If you only have a few minutes, however, Coburn’s top-ten provide frustratingly humorous glimpse at the sort of wasteful spending that has become commonplace in the Nation’s Capital.

On a positive note, Coburn took a closer look at 18 projects in the Northeast region and none of those funded in New Hampshire appear to have reached his wasteful spending threshold.

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