Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Missouri's contribution to the big fat pork barrel

I'm all for creating new jobs, but I have no idea how much $820 billion is. Do you? I've read it's about a $10,000 loan from every single American family to the federal government. Regardless, that's how much the current stimulus package is adding up to. The idea is that by pouring a bunch of money into the economy for projects, businesses and government will start hiring people.

Now that we've all agreed to spend this wad of cash, the question is what kind of projects to spend it on that will actually put folks to work vs. how much of what's in the current bill is just a bunch of spending legislators are using to feather their own nests or prop up their pet projects. I thought the purpose of the money was to spend on roads, bridges, schools and other infrastructure projects that will put people to work quickly--I'm okay with that. Unfortunately, lots of fluff is in the bill the way it stands today:

$1 billion for Amtrak, which hasn’t earned a profit in four decades.

$2 billion to help subsidize child care.

$400 million for research into global warming.

$2.4 billion for projects to demonstrate how carbon greenhouse gas can be safely removed from the atmosphere.

$650 million for coupons to help consumers convert their TV sets from analog to digital, part of the digital TV conversion.

$600 million to buy a new fleet of cars for federal employees and government departments.

$75 million to fund programs to help people quit smoking.

$21 million to re-sod the National Mall.

$2.25 billion for national parks.

$335 million for treatment and prevention of sexually transmitted diseases.

$50 million for the National Endowment for the Arts.

$44 million to renovate the headquarters building of the Agriculture Department.

$32 billion for a smart electricity grid to minimize waste.

$87 billion of Medicaid funds, to aid states.

$53.4 billion for science facilities, high speed Internet, and miscellaneous energy and environmental programs.

$13 billion to repair and weatherize public housing, help the homeless, repair foreclosed homes.

$10.3 billion for tax credits to help families defray the cost of college tuition.

$20 billion over five years for an expanded food stamp program.

Lest you think it's just a bunch of legislators you've never heard of tossing all this into the mix...here are some highlights of what our very own Missouri legislators have requested:

Florissant wants $35 million for a Music Hall of Fame.

Pine Lawn, population 4,200, is asking for $156.75 million. That's $91,000 per household.

Columbia, Missouri is asking for $35 million for street reconstruction. Sounds reasonable until you read that's only going to add 10 jobs. At that rate it's going to be a long haul for Barack-star to reach the 4 million jobs he's promised.

These may all be worthy projects {except the Florissant Music Hall of Fame}, but the question is what will really put people to work and stop the economic freefall.

Related: Proposed Missouri Stimulus Projects

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