Tags: stimulus | bill | pork

Stimulus Verdict: A $3.27 Trillion Porker

Saturday, 14 Feb 2009 09:40 AM

By David A. Patten

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The gargantuan stimulus bill Congress has rubber-stamped with virtually no Republican support contains tens of billions of the very spending projects that made the legislation a lightning rod for criticism.

And although the bill is generally described as costing $787 billion, the Congressional Budget Office reports the actual figure is now closer to $3.27 trillion.

That stems from the $744 billion it will take to pay for the additional debt the legislation will create, and $2.527 trillion in increased spending from the new and expanded programs the bill will spawn over the next decade.

To view the letter to Nancy Pelosi, go here.

The bill now spans more than 1,000 pages. While Democrats removed some provisions that fiscal conservatives objected to, most of the pork remains. Among them:

  • The plan has more than $3 billion in “neighborhood stabilization” and Community Development Block Grant funding, much of which may go to benefit ACORN, a low-income housing and voter registration “community” organization that is under federal investigation for its suspicious voter registration practices.

  • $1.3 billion to bailout AMTRAK, the perennial money-loser railroad.

  • $1 billion for educational programs, including courses on sexually transmitted diseases.

  • $30 million for restoration of wetlands to be spent in the San Francisco Bay Area – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s district. The money will go in part to protect the endangered salt marsh harvest mouse.

  • $200 million for a low-pollution, coal-fired power plant in President Barack Obama’s home state of Illinois.

  • $45 million for ATV four-wheeler trails, and government office renovations, according to RNC Chairman Michael Steele.

  • $200 million to provide computers to community colleges.

  • $50 million for the National Endowment of the Arts.

  • Over $650 million in coupons to help consumers buy digital TV converter-box coupons.

  • A reported $300 million for hybrid vehicles and electric-powered cars. According to the Washington Times, this item will include buying golf carts for federal workers.

    GOP Sen. John McCain summed up his view of the bill: “This measure is not bipartisan. It contains much that is not stimulative.”

    Some of the criticisms of the bill, however, center on policy rather than cost.

    The Heritage Foundation, for example, reports the bill reverses the bipartisan welfare reforms achieved during the Clinton administration.

    Also, opponents have slammed the bill for being “anti-religious,” because it expressly prohibits the use of stimulus funds for faith-based schools, schools of divinity, facilities used for “sectarian worship,” or places of religious worship.

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