100 Wasteful Stimulus Projects That Actually Cost America Jobs

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Photo: Summertime Blues

When Congress passed the $862 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009, otherwise known as the stimulus bill, it passed with assurances that it would stem the loss of American jobs and keep the economy from floundering. As most can see, it hasn’t.Eighteen months since the law’s passage, millions of jobs are still gone and the economy is as uncertain as ever. The only thing getting a boost is our national debt – the stimulus has helped push it 23 per cent higher, to $13.2 trillion, a new record.

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The dramatic increase in government spending has not shortened the nation’s unemployment lines. According to the Bureau of labour Statistics, the unemployment rate in June 2010 was 9.5 per cent, which is essentially the same as June of last year.  Many economists are forecasting that the debt incurred to pay for these projects increases the risk of a greater economic downturn in the near future. 

We owe it to all Americans that are paying taxes and struggling to find jobs, to rebuild our economy without doing additional harm, and to do it in a way that expands opportunities for future generations.  Too many stimulus projects are failing to meet that goal.

As we detail in this third report in a series, some projects accomplish such questionable goals as putting in new windows at a vacant government building, replacing a new sidewalk with an even newer one, or money for a park that is only accessible by boat or plane.  

Other projects that appear in the report may have merit, but are being mismanaged or were poorly planned.  A biomass power plant was awarded hundreds of thousands of stimulus dollars, but may close in months.  The same is true for a rail line to two professional sports stadiums— yet it is hundreds of millions of dollars over budget and only “shovel ready” because it was years behind schedule when funding came available.

Worst of all, some stimulus projects are actually costing jobs and hurting small businesses.  By largely closing off access to local shops to build some of the stimulus projects, some business owners have had to cut staff hours, and let people go.

Washington should focus on re-igniting the unmatched power of the American entrepreneurial spirit by sweeping away government red tape, expanding markets for U.S. goods, making it easier for small businesses to compete in a global market, and reducing our national debt by eliminating wasteful  Washington spending. We owe it to every American to rebuild our economy without doing additional harm and in a manner that expands opportunities for future generations of Americans. 

There is no question job creation should be a national priority, but torrential, misdirected government spending is not the way to do it.  Generating record-breaking national debt is not an investment in our children’s and grandchildren’s future and will not lead to any long-term recovery.

The U.S. Forest Service Replaces The Windows in a Visitor centre That Was Closed in 2007 (Amboy, WA) for $554,763

Despite having no plans to reopen a shuttered visitor centre at Mount St. Helens in Washington state, the U.S. Forest Service is spending more than $554,000 to replace its windows. One government official likened it to keeping a vacant house in good repair,

The University of North Carolina (Charlotte, NC) Developed An Interactive Dance Software for $762,372

The University of North Carolina at Charlotte received more than $750,000 in stimulus funds to help develop a computerized choreography program that its creators believe could lead to a YouTube-like 'Dance Tube

A rail extension is to be built to get to professional sports stadiums and a casino (Pittsburgh, PA) for $62 million

The construction of two Texas fire stations is delayed for more than a year, and it increases costs (San Antonio, TX) - $7.3 million

An abandoned train station is to be converted into a Museum in Glassboro, NJ) for $1.2 million

An analysis of exotic ants is to cost $1.9 million (San Francisco, CA)

A $1.8 million road project threatens a pastor's house (Newark, OH)

An Ohio road project received $1.8 million in stimulus funds, despite the threat it poses to the residents of over two dozen homes next to it. Pastor Greg Sheets of Newark, Ohio's Truth Tabernacle has already lost his front yard to the project, and could lose his entire home.

The house -- which has sheltered three generations of Sheetses -- has suffered cracks in its foundation and damage to its front porch from the work, Sheets says. His neighbours, some of whom have hired lawyers, have had windows break and walls crack as a result of the construction.

Source: Report - Summertime Blues

An old abandoned iron furnace is to be renovated for $357,710 after money was squandered on same project years before (Fitchburg, KY)

A power plant construction awarded $308 million won't start for at least two years (Kern County, CA)

A town replaces for $89,298 new sidewalks with newer sidewalks that lead to a ditch (Boynton, OK)

#11-20

#21-30

21. Quit Smoking, Get a New Phone (Washington, D.C.) - $497,893 : Whether they use the patch, the gum, or go cold turkey, millions of Americans try to quit smoking every year for their own health. Now, Uncle Sam will give them an additional reason to quit: a taxpayer- funded smartphone.

22. Streetscaping Project Costs Jobs, Threatens Local Businesses (Twin Lakes, WI) - $899,853

23. Helping Siberians Lobby Russian Policymakers (San Francisco, CA) - $199,862

24. Ship Museum Averaging 30 Visitors A Day (Toledo, OH) - $200,000

25. Weather Predictions for Other Planets (San Antonio, TX) - $298,543

26. Shoddy Weatherization Contractor Promises Changes (Houston, TX) - $11.2 million

27. Army Corps of Engineers Gets Its Due With Museum Exhibits (St. Louis, MO) - $430,695

28. Monkeys Get High for Science (Winston-Salem, NC) - $144,541

29. Field Trip Reimbursements and Inflated Job Numbers (Oakland, CA) - $3.1 million

30. Two Riders an Hour Get Brand New Buses (Winter Haven, FL) - $2.4 million230

Source: Report - Summertime Blues

#31-40

#41-50

41. Improving Privacy on Social Networking Websites (Durham, NC) - $498,176: Researchers at Duke University in North Carolina have received a grant from the National Science Foundation worth almost a half million dollars for investigating new networking approaches for improved privacy and functionality for social networking websites such as Facebook and MySpace.

42. Band Shell Mural Gets Fresh Paint Job (Helena, MT) - $18,500

43. Microchips Track Citizen Use of Recycling Bins (Dayton, OH) - $500,000

44. Ferry Boat Company Serving Island of 600 Gets Terrorism Prevention Grant (Beaver Island,
MI) - $30,000

45. Understanding Perceptions of the Economic Stimulus (Dallas, TX & Houston, TX) -
$193,956

46. Agency Spends Nearly $1 Million on Overhead Instead of Jobs Programs (California) -
$940,000

47. Snowmaking and Chairlifts at Mt. Snow (West Dover, VT) - $25 million

48. SBA Contracts Evade Competition Rules - $4.3 million

49. Stimulus Turns Local Business's Waterfront into Sandbox (Lancaster, VA) -- $450,000

50. Tour Boat Showcases High Life In Hyannis (Cape Cod, MA) - $43,214

Source: Report - Summertime Blues

#51-60

#61-70

#71-80

71. Bus Station Art (Los Angeles, CA) - $1 million

72. Studying Whether a Soda Tax Will Stimulate Health (Chicago, IL) - $521,005

73. Big Bang -- Little Stimulus (Tucson, AZ) - $314,964

74. There's an App for That: Stimulus Funds for iPods (Salt Lake City, UT) - $1 million

75. The Meteorite Hunters of Antarctica (Cleveland, OH) - $600,001

76. Field Trip to Study Dinosaur Eggs…in China (Bozeman, MT) - $141,002

77. Ice Skating Rinks Just Getting Warmed Up (Woodbury & Eagan, MN) - $1.8 million: When it comes to keeping the local ice rink up to date, Woodbury, Minnesota does not plan to just skate by. Woodbury has allocated more than $2.3 million to upgrade its heating systems at a local ice rink, using $503,900 in stimulus funding.

78. Helping Drinkers Control Their Alcohol Consumption With Creative labelling (San Diego,
CA) - $497,117

79. High-End Boutique Hotel Built Where None is Needed (Buffalo, NY) - $6 million

80. Wildlife Refuge Gets Fancy New Visitors centre (Bismarck, ND) - $6.1 million

Source: Report - Summertime Blues

#81-90

#91-100

91. Health Insurance Grants go Unused (Washington, DC) - $142 million

92. Whistleblower Alleges Fraud at Company Administering Child Care Funds (Kilgore, TX) -
$215 million

93. NIH Spends Stimulus Money to Promote the Impact of Its Stimulus Projects (Silver Spring,
MD) - $363,760

94. Restored Lighthouse Gets More Funding for More Restoration (Jupiter, FL) - $442,950: While the Jupiter Inlet National Historic Lighthouse is 150 years old, at least one local preservationist may have an exaggerated sense of its importance.

95. A Better Way to Freeze Rat DNA (Columbia, MO) - $180,935

96. Money for Healthy Homes and Lead Hazard Control to Ineligible Recipients - $2.8 million

97. The Wheels on the Stimulus Go Round and Round (Clearfield, PA) - $1.4 million

98. Artists Get New Digs (Wilton, CT and Philadelphia, PA) - $184,650

99. What's With the Lights? (Euless, TX) -- $454,200

100. Alcohol Studies Summer School for High School and College Students (New York, NY) - $112,437

Source: Report - Summertime Blues

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