Thursday, February 5, 2009

What Could Possibly Be Wrong With These Earmarks?

We keep hearing about the almost $1 TRILLION dollar "stimulus" package put forth by Obama and the Democratic leadership. And we keep hearing that a number of Republicans are pretty upset about some of the "pork" put in there. Well, the Republicans have put out a list of some of the more egregious (according to them) requests in this article, "GOP Leaders List Waste In Senate Stimulus Bill." Let's just take a little look-see to figure out what all the brouhaha is about, and bear in mind that the stimulus package is SUPPOSED to be about job creation:
• $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. (Wow - in IL? A $2 Billion earmark? Huh - maybe people really should have paid attention to Obama's penchant for pork for IL.)

• A $246 million tax break for Hollywood movie producers to buy motion picture film. (A TAX BREAK?? While our coffers are empty? For HOLLYWOOD to buy FILM? C'mon, already. I love movies as much as the next person, but you gotta be KIDDING me. A tax break. Please.)

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

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

• $448 million for constructing the Department of Homeland Security headquarters. (Well, lookey here - it seems the GSA had already asked for this funding. In February of 2008. And here it is - again - in the "Stimulus package.)

• $248 million for furniture at the new Homeland Security headquarters. (New FURNITURE?? Like Bermie Madoff's new furniture with all the artwork in his office? Hell to the no - everyone is having to tighten their belts. They can use the old desks and chairs, dammit.)

• $600 million to buy hybrid vehicles for federal employees. (I'm okay with this - it will reduce gas costs, carbon emissions, and will help auto manufacturers - maybe they'll be able to pay their own pension costs this year. Ahem.)

• $400 million for the Centers for Disease Control to screen and prevent STD's. (Um, who thought this was an important component of a STIMULUS plan?? Sorry - couldn't resist.)

• $1.4 billion for rural waste disposal programs.

• $125 million for the Washington sewer system.

• $150 million for Smithsonian museum facilities. (Listen, I love the Smithsonian - I have been a member for YEARS. But would this really help to CREATE that many new jobs, or is this just regular maintenance costs?

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

• $75 million for "smoking cessation activities." (Okay - clearly these folks are UNCLEAR on the concept of for what the economic stimulus package is.)

• $200 million for public computer centers at community colleges. (Ditto above. Not that it isn't a good thing for there to be computer centers, but again - JOB CREATION is the point.)

• $75 million for salaries of employees at the FBI.

• $25 million for tribal alcohol and substance abuse reduction. (Important work, no doubt. But can we please keep our eye on the ball here?)

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

• $10 million to inspect canals in urban areas.

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

• $500 million for state and local fire stations.

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

• $1.2 billion for "youth activities," including youth summer job programs. ("Youth activities"?? Like Obama's Youth Camps that brought us the theft of caucuses through bullying, intimidation, and downright fraud? THOSE kinds of activities? Paid for by TAXPAYERS?? HELL NO!)

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

• $412 million for CDC buildings and property.

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

• $160 million for "paid volunteers" at the Corporation for National and Community Service. (Isn't that an oxymoron - "paid volunteers"? And not for nothing, but their budget is already $888,462,000, no small potatoes.)

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

• $850 million for Amtrak. (Listen, I believe that "there is something about a train that's magic," as the Amtrak commercial says, but for the gazillionith time, WHAT is this doing in this package??)

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

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

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

• $200 million in funding for the lease of alternative energy vehicles for use on military installations. (Again, this could end up saving money in the long run, and help the manufacturing sector.)

From the renovation piece on down, all of that sounds like items for which there is regular budgeting (or should be), so why the add-ons (for instance, the Smithsonian has a budget request for FY2009 in the amount of $716.4 million already)? Who is putting these things in there? Which states are going to reap most of the benefits? Some of these things are just ridiculous - I was fully prepared for Nancy Pelosi to put in there that all Californians should get annual passes to Disney Land or something, because there are certainly some Mickey Mouse additions in here (sorry - couldn't resist that one, either).

Here's the thing. These are difficult times, and many people have lost their livelihoods and their homes. For our leaders to put forth this pork-laden stimulus package on the heels of another huge stimulus package that had NO oversight whatsoever, is absurd. They tossed away over $350 BILLION dollars, and have NO idea what the hell happened to it. And now they want to give Hollywood a freakin' tax-break for film? Or give a ton of money for STD treatment or stop-smoking campaigns (not that there is anything wrong with trying to get people to quit smoking, it just does NOT belong in this package).

Our leaders seem to have forgotten that this is OUR money they are throwing around, and that it will be our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren who will be responsible for paying it back (see Bert, alert NQ reader, I was paying attention!). We deserve better than this. Future generations deserve better than this. Let's get SERIOUS here. Stop with all of the pork. Increase oversight. Stop trying to spend OUR money so frivolously. And stop trying to convince us this is in our best interests. We all have to tighten our belts now. It is far past time for our leaders to act accordingly.


Logistics Monster said...

Rev, the treasury wasted $78 billion - it's gone. They bought assets at above market pricing and that $78B was WASTED. (From the FIRST $350 Bailout in Sept)

I hate to say this - but the morons in congress are going to pass some sort of SPENDING BILL with currently only 32% of the country behind it. I have accepted the fact that they are going to do this...the upside? This bill once passed into law will be the LAST STRAW. I am already hearing and seeing more than the rumblings of marching on DC. I hope you and yours are getting ready for the meltdown. Marching on DC is now being talked about openly AND the obots are starting to speak out about this bill and their beloved leader.

BTW - if you want to yank this comment - feel free - at this point I am more than a bit paranoid.

Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy said...

Heck no, I'm not going to yank this comment, DT! Why would I do that?

I am afraid you are right, though, abt the morons in Congress passing this horrible bill. They have made it ABUNDANTLY clear that they don't give a DAMN what the people want, DT. If they did, Hillary would have been the Dem. nominee, and most likely, prez. And, she would not be pushing this huge big barrel of pork.

Keep me posted on those DC march rumblings, DT. And you know I am always more than willing to hear abt Obots turning on Dear Leader! :-)

SFIndie said...

Oh, Rev...the only thing being stimulated is my ulcer! This bill is beyond outrageous, it's downright scary. And what's happening in this country is even scarier. I'm almost afraid that in another couple years, those of us who WANT to leave the country won't be allowed to! We'll be sent to a reprogramming camp (probably the same one being funded by this bill). I hope the ObotBorgs turn on their leader. It will be a sight to behold.

Mary Ellen said...

I had just heard on Hannity...yeah, I did it, I watched the idiot. But they were talking about what is in this bill and they said there is money going to do remodeling for a country club golf course or golf club building. Insane...and this is what our kids and grandkids are going to be paying guys like Obama can enjoy a nice cold beer in a fancy golf club facility.

It sickens me.

Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy said...

Mary Ellen - I can't believe you would spread lies like that - I'm shocked! It's to have a FRISBEE golf course (okay, so maybe to do regular ones, too). I'm not kidding - a FRISBEE golf course is in this package. Las Vegas wanting money for NEON LIGHTS.

There's a ton in there for money to veterans of the Philippines or something like that (heard it in passing this morning). Not that it isn't a good thing, but it belongs in REGULAR appropriations, not a STIMULUS package.

And SF, I hear you. We plan to retire out of the country (well, now that's been pushed off just a tad with the freakin' market), but you're probably right. We will be sent to Assimilation Camp to become compliant Oborgs.

Scary times indeed...

Mary Ellen said...

Rev Amy---Ooops! Pardon my error. Had I known it was a FRISBEE course, I would have been more understanding. :-D

I just wrote a scathing post today on my blog...will probably be my last, I'm writing up my closing blog post which will go up on Monday or Tuesday and I'll leave the blog up for the rest of the week. I'm deleting The Divine Democrat (not feeling all that much like a Democrat OR Divine, these days). I'm not sure what I'm doing with Bad Habit. It kills me to delete it but I'm afraid if I leave it up that I'll go back to it again, and I don't want to be tempted. But then again...the thought of someone else taking my domain name, that bothers me. I'm stingy that way, I guess. Sigh. I wish I could come up with a happy medium but I can't think of one.

Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy said...

ME, I am glad to see you have realized the error of your ways! Teehee!!

Can you believe these bozos? And they just keep adding in more and more and more BS, to be paid for with OUR tax dollars. Ridiculous.

Oh, ME, I am so sorry that you will be shutting down the Divine Dem. And writing your last one for Bad Habit! Shoot! I totally understand, of course, but darn - I love your posts...

But I hear ya abt the Divine and Dem part...

My two cents worth is to keep the "Bad Habit" site. At the very least, no one else will be able to take the domain. It's yours, dammit! I can appreciate the temptation to return to it, though. Just say no! :-)

Oh, I will miss it, ME. You are one of a kind!!