JUNE 16, 2009
At least $55 billion of U.S. stimulus funds that President Barack Obama promised would jumpstart the economy and put Americans back to work will likely be lost to waste, fraud and abuse, according to an investigation that reviewed thousands of programs nationwide.
Already, at least $5.5 billion of the administration’s massive $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act have gone to wasteful projects across the country, including a $3 million turtle crossing in northern Florida, the $10 million renovation of an abandoned train station that has been shut for three decades and 10,000 dead people getting Social Security stimulus checks.
The wasteful projects are documented in a lengthy report (A Second Opinion on the Stimulus) published this week by a Republican senator whose staff reviewed thousands of projects funded by stimulus dollars. The results, in a nutshell; “We’re wasting money we don’t have on things we don’t need,” according to Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn, who spearheaded the probe.
The investigation looked into the Obama Administration’s highly touted “shovel-ready” projects by region and state, determining at least $5.5 billion in wasteful spending so far and predicting nearly ten times that amount by the time all the stimulus funds are spent. Examples range from Maine to California as well as the senator’s home state of Oklahoma.
Nearly $16 million will be used to repair dozens of seldom-used bridges in rural areas of Wisconsin and nearly $1 million to repave a backup runway in a remote Pennsylvania airport—with less than 10,000 passengers a year—named after a corrupt Democratic congressman (John Murtha) who has secured millions of dollars for the facility in recent years.
Other examples of abuse include $2 million for a nonprofit previously fired for bungling a federal low-income housing program, $1 million to build a guardrail around a nonexistent Oklahoma lake and nearly $600,000 for a New York town without a homeless problem to prevent homelessness. Town officials said they were shocked to receive the federal money because they did not request it and don’t’ have any sort of homeless crisis.
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