It sounds like the lead in to a bad joke: What do a Chicago-based dinner cruise company, a study of libidinous female college students and a former Hillary Clinton advisor have in common?
But the joke is on us, because each of the above has been awarded hefty doses of taxpayer-funded stimulus money since February, according to a new stimulus report card by Senators Tom Coburn and John McCain.
In his “jobs speech” this week, President Obama implicitly acknowledged that last February’s $1.2 trillion stimulus package has failed. Then he demanded another one in order to bolster his plan to “spend our way out of this recession.”
But given the failure of the first stimulus highlighted by wasteful spending unearthed in the new Coburn-McCain report, as well as the stifling deficits the Obama administration is already running, more government spending will mean more debt, more waste and more unemployment.
Titled “Stimulus Checkup,” the Coburn-McCain report exposes 100 projects paid for by February’s stimulus package they claim wasted at least $7 billion.
Some of the most egregious items include $5 million for alternative energy in a mostly empty shopping mall in Tennessee, and $1.6 million for fossil research in Argentina for Penn State University.
A dinner cruise company based in Chicago received nearly $1 million in funds to combat terrorism, and $100,000 was spent for a socially conscious puppet shows in Minnesota.
The State University of New York at Buffalo won $390,000 to study young adults who drink malt liquor and smoke marijuana, and the National Institutes of Health got $219,000 in funds to study whether female college students are more likely to “hook up” after drinking alcohol.
There’s even $30,000 to study how methamphetamines affect the sex drive of female rats, and $50,000 for a global warming field trip to Copenhagen for 11 students.
Though not included in the report, former Hillary Clinton’s advisor Mark Penn was handed nearly $6 million of Stimulus money to preserve three jobs at his public relations firm, and a former Obama aid received nearly $70,000. You get the idea.
In response to the senators’ report, White House spokesman Liz Oxhorn said, “In the end, even if there are a few unwise projects, it is only a handful out of the over 50,000 projects that have been approved to date.”
Perhaps, but those other 49,000 plus projects haven’t exactly succeeded. Obama sold the first stimulus by warning that the unemployment rate could reach 9 percent without a large infusion of money. Unemployment is 10 percent, and the November unemployment report showed 15.4 million unemployed Americans, with another 9.2 under employed part-time workers.
The Coburn/McCain report adds insult to injury for the millions of American workers who aren’t involved in one of the Left’s pet causes or who do not have high-powered friends in the Democratic Party.
The worst part of Obama’s new stimulus is that he wants to pay for it with leftover or repaid TARP funds. A recent Treasury Department report that it expects to get back $200 billion in taxpayer approved bank bailout funds faster than expected.
But, as Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) said from the floor of the House on Tuesday, “To use money from the TARP fund in the manner that is being discussed by the White House and congressional Democrats would be a violation of the law, and it would betray the trust of the American people.”
That’s true. The TARP legislation states in Section 106, Part D: “Revenues of, and proceeds from the sale of troubled assets purchased under this Act, or from the sale, exercise, or surrender of warrants or senior debt instruments acquired under section 113 shall be paid into the general fund of the Treasury for reduction of the public debt.”
Anticipating a tough sell to congressional Republicans, Obama invited House GOP leaders to an arm-twisting session at the White House on Wednesday. But Republicans were having none of it, and House Minority Whip Eric Cantor gave Obama an alternative plan to create jobs that would add nothing to the deficit. Cantor’s proposal would halt stifling business regulations, approve pending trade agreements and freeze domestic discretionary funding, among other measures.
Those are all welcome ideas. The national debt stands at $12 trillion. The federal government ran a $1.4 trillion deficit in 2009 (more than triple last year’s deficit), and the 2010 deficit is expected to be even higher. Polls show a majority of Americans oppose the Democrat’s health care reform plan and cap-and-trade legislation in part because of their catastrophic costs. And now the Obama administration and liberal Democrats want to raise the federal debt ceiling by as much as $1.8 trillion before January in order to pay for the federal government’s mounting obligations.
At one point during their meeting, Obama admonished Republican leaders for “trying to frighten the American people.” But it’s the Democrats’ unflinching and unprecedented reliance on more spending that’s frightening the American people who understand that trillion dollar deficits and an ever-higher debt ceiling are a disastrous combination.
As ordinary Americans tighten their belts and cut up their credit cards, it’s time for the Democratically-controlled Congress and the Obama administration to do the same.
Throwing good tax money after bad public policy must end.