Tuesday, February 03, 2009

I want my two dollars!

Here’s the opening of the article at CNN:

(CNN) -- On Monday, Congressional Republican leaders put out a list of what they call wasteful provisions in the Senate version of the nearly $900 billion stimulus bill that is being debated:

The Senate is currently debating the nearly $900 billion economic stimulus bill.

Here is the list of wasteful provisions they came up with in the release. I’ve added my earth-shattering remarks after each.

$2 billion earmark to re-start FutureGen, a near-zero emissions coal power plant in Illinois that the Department of Energy defunded last year because it said the project was inefficient.

- Oh, earmark! There’s a catchphrase. I’d like to see a review of the Bush administration’s DoE report. I will say that this is based purely on my hatred of Bush, I won’t lie. In my defense, haven’t the conservatives been pushing the idea of “clean coal”? Suddenly, any hope of making coal clean(er) is mockable?

$246 million tax break for Hollywood movie producers to buy motion picture film.

- What is this? I think this little nugget simply mists our vision (along with the earmark comment above) before reading the rest of the list. Once you read this you immediately thing “What the hell is going on.” I would imagine that this $246m is questionable at best.

$650 million for the digital television converter box coupon program.

- Shoot, I don’t know who came up with the converter box program but it’s there and it’s not going away. When you suddenly get millions of American homes with no TV in a few weeks you are going to have a riot on your hands. That doesn’t mean I think it belongs in the package, I’m just donning my riot gear.

$88 million for the Coast Guard to design a new polar icebreaker (arctic ship).

- I don’t know if this icebreaker (the “artic ship” wasn’t needed to clarify) will be used for scientific research but I’m guessing it has some value in that area. I wouldn’t call it wasteful.

$448 million for constructing the Department of Homeland Security headquarters.

- Is this one of those “shovel ready” projects? If so, it’ll certainly boost the economy in the D.C. area (I think it’s planned for SE) and provide jobs, right? Based on what I’ve heard from just about every economist on the spectrum, it is the jobs and unemployment that need to be solidified before anything else turns around. Now, we may not need a new HQ and that would certainly be an issue.

$248 million for furniture at the new Homeland Security headquarters.

- Hmm. Let’s call this wasteful spending. I think that if your furniture costs more than half the price tag of your new building then you’re doing something wrong. Imagine building a million-dollar home and then spending $600K on furniture.

$600 million to buy hybrid vehicles for federal employees.

- They make this sound like we are buying 30,000 Priui and handing them out to employees. Opa! How about it probably being a buying program for fleet vehicles for federal employees? Again, spending and responsibility….I hate that!

$400 million for the Centers for Disease Control to screen and prevent STD's.

- Fuck health. Sorry. I think every penny we spend on preventive healthcare comes back tenfold in the end. I think my father might have better numbers on that…and I apologize for the profanity.

$1.4 billion for rural waste disposal programs.

- Fuck waste. Oops. Okay, I’m pretty sure we need waste disposal, right? Once again we are in the spending area where it provides jobs and economic lift.

$125 million for the Washington sewer system.

- Well, the federal government is responsible for a good bit of the D.C. funding, it being a federal city and all. And, if you don’t know, there must be at least a dozen water main or sewer bursts in D.C. every week in the winter. Employment? Spending? I’m cool with it.

$150 million for Smithsonian museum facilities.

- Tourism. Tourism. Tourism. Let me put it this way: isn’t tourism one of the huge economic boosts for just about any major city, and by default, the economy. Secondly, if you’ve been to D.C. and enjoyed the Smithsonian, gratis, then think about coming here with the family of five and paying $10 for every Smithsonian building you want to see. Before you know it, you’ll be into museum costs to the tune of about $600 for the week. Don’t worry, you can eat Ramen in your hotel room.

$1 billion for the 2010 Census, which has a projected cost overrun of $3 billion.

- Doesn’t the taking of the Census employ loads of people? We’ll have none of that! Doesn’t the Census affect elections and voting districts? Isn’t it important?

$75 million for "smoking cessation activities."

- See healthcare above.

$200 million for public computer centers at community colleges.

- And the problem here is what? Education? Learning? Kids and adults trying to better themselves and enhance the economy and our standing in the world? Shenanigans!

$75 million for salaries of employees at the FBI.

- They make this sound like it’s merely a raise for everyone there. That’s not it, right? Are we hiring more people in law enforcement? That’s crazy.

$25 million for tribal alcohol and substance abuse reduction.

- Beating a drum.

$500 million for flood reduction projects on the Mississippi River.

- I have two things to say here and they are both pretty straightforward: JOBS and KATRINA.

$10 million to inspect canals in urban areas.

- I’ll go along with more jobs here. I’m guessing there are plans on the books to catch up on infrastructure projects that have been put on hold.

$6 billion to turn federal buildings into "green" buildings.

- I think the Republicans thought this meant green paint. With the quote marks it really does seem sneaky: do they mean non-green buildings? Liberals. I think the work involved would be an economic boon and the feds really need to get buildings upgraded.

$500 million for state and local fire stations.

- Let the fuckers burn. And screw the police, too.

$650 million for wildland fire management on forest service lands.

- This is in here simply because they are Republicans. They couldn’t allow this to stand.

$1.2 billion for "youth activities," including youth summer job programs.

- I’ll again defer to my father’s opinion from my youth. He felt that kids should have work opportunities in the summers. Let me ask you this; if we were to put $500 million in the pockets of youth through a summer jobs program, do you think they would spend it? On what? They can’t be serious with this objection.

$88 million for renovating the headquarters of the Public Health Service.

- Again, I know the feds need some remodeling but some of the plans may need to be put on hold, especially when it comes to new buildings.

$412 million for CDC buildings and property.

- Disease has been eradicated. Get rid of the CDC!

$500 million for building and repairing National Institutes of Health facilities in Bethesda, Maryland.

- See above. (I have a good friend who’s a chemist at NIH and I know her lab is a piece of junk.)

$160 million for "paid volunteers" at the Corporation for National and Community Service.

- Well, anyone involved in community service or as a community organizer clearly has no future.

$5.5 million for "energy efficiency initiatives" at the Department of Veterans Affairs National Cemetery Administration.

- More energy efficiency. Can we get off this? Drill, baby, drill.

$850 million for Amtrak.

- The only thing I’ll say here is public transport. If you don’t live on in the Northeast or along the seaboard you don’t know how important Amtrak is for reducing traffic. Having said that, isn’t Amtrak one of the worst run organizations in the country? Or am I making that up?

$100 million for reducing the hazard of lead-based paint.

- Lead is a problem?

$75 million to construct a "security training" facility for State Department Security officers when they can be trained at existing facilities of other agencies.

- I’ll take their word that there are other facilities for the training…with this caveat: since the conservatives have been hell bent on scaring the living shit out of everyone for the last eight years isn’t this a bit rich?

$110 million to the Farm Service Agency to upgrade computer systems.

- I don’t know anything about this. Nor do I have anything witty to say.

$200 million in funding for the lease of alternative energy vehicles for use on military installations.

- I know the military and they need some energy efficiency.

I think I’d probably question and/or remove about 5 or 6 billion of these “wasteful initiatives”. My calculator runs that out to two-thirds of one percent of the proposed $900 billion. Is the package perfect? Nope. Is it worth bickering over what would amount to about $23 of my monthly take home pay? Nope. But once you open up with words like earmark and Hollywood, you're golden. Hollywood, gay liberals!

If they want to simply pose and blow smoke up our skirts then they've done a fine job. But don’t pretend that all this evil stuff is being thrust upon us. Do you see any repairs being done to Ted Stevens' house, nope. You know what? I don’t want any stimulus package that is spending nearly a trillion dollars of taxpayer money. But aren't these the same politicos that voted for, and released, $350 billion of the first package and have nothing to show for it?

That barn door needs closing.

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