Earmarks by any other name

Much is said by some in Congress that the “stimulus” bill (recently passed by the Senate with the assistance of two terribly mis-guided Republicans — Specter and Snowe) contains no earmarks. And they say it proudly and, seemingly, seriously. Check the following list in an article from CNN. Call it “pork” or “earmarks” or whatever appellation suits your fancy today, but the fact of the matter is that most of these items are blatantly wasteful and have nothing to do with getting our economy back on track.

Many of these are just ordinary budget items that probably would not pass in a routine budget debate. While those items might not be pure “pork” in the classic sense, you have to ask about the necessity. My comments are in bold.

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.

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

• $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.

• A $246 million tax break for Hollywood movie producers to buy motion picture film. Like they need a tax break?

• $650 million for the digital television converter box coupon program. To “save” the 6% of the country who couldn’t get the coupons squared away in the three years that this conversion has been underway. So they can watch soap operas?

• $88 million for the Coast Guard to design a new polar icebreaker (arctic ship). But wait … Gore’s global warming is melting all the ice!

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

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

• $600 million to buy hybrid vehicles for federal employees.

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

• $1.4 billion for rural waste disposal programs.

• $125 million for the Washington sewer system. Could not possibly be a big enough system at that meager price!

• $150 million for Smithsonian museum facilities.

• $1 billion for the 2010 Census, which has a projected cost overrun of $3 billion. That’s a budget mistake … don’t bury it in a “stimulus” bill.

• $75 million for “smoking cessation activities.”

• $200 million for public computer centers at community colleges.

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

• $25 million for tribal alcohol and substance abuse reduction.

• $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.

• $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.

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

• $850 million for Amtrak.  To keep it going so it can lose more money?

• $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.

From http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/02/02/gop.stimulus.worries/index.html (accessed 2/8/09)