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Special-Interest Groups Line Up for a Piece of Stimulus
As the economic stimulus bill makes its way through Congress, a host of oddball recipients from ATV riders to TV viewers preparing for the digital conversion stand to benefit.
By Jim Angle

Wednesday, January 28, 2009
When Congress opens up a gusher of money, every special interest in the country reaches for a bucket. And as lawmakers negotiate an economic stimulus bill that so far is expected to cost more than $800 billion, the scenario is no different.

The House passed its version of the bill Wednesday evening, and a host of oddball recipients from ATV riders to TV viewers preparing for the digital conversion stand to benefit.

But critics question why such narrowly tailored add-ons -- which have little, if any, prospect of creating large numbers of new jobs -- are in an emergency bill aimed at stimulating the economy and creating jobs.

"The stimulus bill delivers on a lot of promises that Democrats have made over the past decade to special interest groups," said William Beach, director of the Heritage Foundation's Center for Data Analysis. "This is their time to kind of bring home the bacon."

Among the funding measures included in the proposal are $25 million for new ATV trails; $400 million for the National Endowment for the Arts; $400 million for global warming research; $335 million for the Centers for Disease Control to combat sexually-transmitted diseases; and $650 million coupons to subsidize TV viewers for digital television conversion.

"I think it's a real problem that things that are not genuinely related to stimulus are being pushed into the stimulus bill, which is then being put on a fast track that has to be done by February," said Alan D. Viard, an economist at the conservative American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research.

"We have hundreds of billions of dollars shoved into this package without taking the time to deliberately consider what amounts we need and what the effective way would be to spend it," he said.

The White House, though, argues that the stimulus package is indeed aimed at creating jobs.

"I think that you have a hard economic argument to make that paving a road, or fixing a bridge, or building a wind turbine, or laying a power grid doesn't create jobs," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said.

Those kinds of projects do create job, but critics argue there is relatively little for those kinds of projects in there: Of the $819 billion package, $30 billion has been set aside for infrastructure spending.

"If there's going to be a stimulus part to this whole effort, it's going to be in the shovel-ready construction projects on our nation's highways and byways," Beach said. "But that's just a ridiculously small number."

House Democratic leaders reluctantly removed two programs that had drawn fire: $200 million for new contraceptive service and $20 million to renovate the National Mall.

But another problem exists. Even money directed at infrastructure can face delays.

For example, a proposal to spend $2.9 billion for new military hospitals says the money couldn't be spent for years -- unless Congress sets aside obstacles of its own creation.

And throwing money at problems, no matter how pressing, does have a downside. The Congressional Budget Office says borrowing $820 billion will cost $347 billion more in interest, which of course pushes the total cost of the stimulus package to more than $1 trillion.


I think it was Bill Crystal who pointed out that even if Obama's spending programs add 4 million new jobs, the cost will be,including interest on the money paid out on the gov. bonds used to finance it, $290,000.00 PER JOB !!! This is just plain nuts! It would take those 4 mil new workers 75 YEARS to put that much $$$ back into the economy and that is NOT gonna happen. Any "true believer" who can't see the writing on the wall is a fool or too dumb to do simple arithmetic.

rosco 357

i have read many time what marc posted about the great depression, about world war II , this is from memory, i don't think i posted this, at some point in the depression the unemployment rate was 23 percent, and with roosevelt's what WPA i think it was, he only got the unemployment rate down to 17 percent, before world war started and ended the depression, not sure on the figures, i did read them so i assume they are correct, but take with a grain of salt, take care

4 Stimulus Bill Moves to the Senate for Changes on Fri Jan 30, 2009 12:02 am


Stimulus Bill Moves to the Senate for Changes
Critics Target Nonstimulus Provisions of Bill
Jan. 29, 2009

President Obama's economic stimulus bill includes tens of millions of dollars that critics claim will do little or nothing to generate or preserve jobs, including money to clear away obstacles for fish, monitor earthquakes and volcanoes, write a report to Congress and reward academic achievement.

Obama's push for the massive economic stimulus package now moves to the Senate, where its spending provisions will face another round of challenges as well as fresh efforts to add to the spending total.

The House approved the $819 billion tax cut and public works bill Wednesday without a single Republican vote and even the president suggested it could be improved.

"I hope that we can continue to strengthen this plan before it gets to my desk," Obama said Wednesday.

The president hopes to be able to sign a stimulus bill into law by mid-February as grim economic headlines continue to worry economists. Today's bad news included Ford Motor Co.'s announcement that it lost $5.9 billion in the fourth quarter of last year, and news that the number of people receiving jobless benefits hit 4.78 million, the highest on records dating back to 1967.

The stimulus bill is certain to be altered in the Senate where Republicans will renew their efforts to remove what they have termed political "pork," or spending they claim is not intended to stimulate the creation or the preservation of jobs.

"This is about spending money we don't have for things we don't need," Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., said today in a first round of attacks by GOP senators.

"A trillion dollars is a terrible thing to waste," said Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss, rounding up the numbers a bit.

The Democrats tried to ease Republican concerns before the House vote by eliminating provisions that would have expanded family planning programs for poor families and killing $200 million meant to refurbish the National Mall in Washington.

But Republicans said those cuts were only a start. Many provisions in Obama's bill, they argue, do not comply with their guidelines that stimulus spending be temporary, targeted and timely.

"Not only the devil is going to be in the details, Satan himself is going to be in the details if you start looking at where this money is going to be spent," Leslie Paige of the Citizens Against Government Waste told "Good Morning America" today.

Items in the House bill that have a Republican bull's-eye on them include:

$335 million for education related to sexually transmitted diseases

"We have yet to hear any reasonable rationale for how this creates any jobs in the private sector," Paige tod "GMA."

$650 million for coupons to help people make the switch to digital TV

$50 million for the National Endowment for the Arts

$150 million for the Smithsonian Institution

$50 million for the National Cemetery Administration's monument and memorial repairs

$800 million for Amtrak, the country's railroad system

$2 billion for child-care subsidies

$400 million for global warming research

$100 million for reducing the danger of lead paint in homes

$2.4 billion for carbon-capture demonstration projects

$50 million for NASA facilities that may have been harmed by natural disaster

$200 million for the U.S. Geological Survey to monitor earthquakes and volcanoes

Senate Version Would Boost Spending Even More
$650 million for the U.S. Forest Service to remove fish passage barriers, forest improvement and watershed enhancement projects

$1.5 million for a National Institute of Health/Institute of Medicine report to Congress

$50.6 million for services for older blind individuals

$400 million for the Social Security Administration's new National Computer Center

$325 million for Academic Achievement Awards

In the Senate version, there are additional servings of what conservatives term pork that won't generate new jobs, including:

$70 million for programs to help people quit smoking

$75 million for a super-computer for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

The Senate version of the bill is also expected to boost the cost of the stimulus package to $900 billion and includes a measure that is sure to irk conservative House members. The Senate is poised to attach to the bill a measure that would alter the Alternative Minimum Tax to reduce the tax bills of middle class families.

The change would add $70 billion to the budget deficit. Fiscally conservative House members blocked the measure in the past because the Senate would not specify cuts to make up the difference.

rosco 357

this was in ur article, a guy at work was going to get his coupons for the digital tv thing, but he was a tad late, he said they ran out of money for the program according to him, i guess that why they plan on more money for it, take care

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