Tom Coburn, John McCain criticize use of stimulus

from The Oklahoman Dec 9, 2009
by Chris Casteel

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sens. Tom Coburn and John McCain released a report Tuesday mocking 100 projects funded with federal stimulus money, including two in Oklahoma.

"No family in America would support many of the programs we’ve highlighted, such as a duplicative $350 million broadband map or a $5 million eco-friendly energy project for a near-empty shopping mall,” Coburn, R-Muskogee, said.

Here are some of the projects listed in a report released by Sens. John McCain and Tom Coburn highlighting 100 projects they consider wasteful.
  • • Up to $5 million to install a geothermal energy system capable of heating an almost empty shopping mall in Oak Ridge, Tenn.
  • • $2.2 million for new pipes to pump recycled water to the Sharp Park Golf Course in San Francisco, even though the city council is considering closing the course.
  • • $943,000 to a private dinner cruise company for security efforts.
  • • $350 million to create a national map showing where broadband Internet service is available. According to the report, telecommunications companies already have the information online, and one broadband mapping consultant said his firm could create a national map for $3.5 million.
  • • $221,355 for Indiana University researchers to "advance our understanding of ... the role of cognitive and affective processes and condom application skills in explaining problems with condom use in young, heterosexual adult men.”
The report is the second compiled by Coburn and McCain on projects funded through the $787 billion stimulus bill. Many of the projects are for local cultural events, such as Shakespeare festivals or puppet shows.

Others cited include bike paths and contracts given to companies under criminal investigation.

According to the report, the 100 projects add up to more than $7 billion.

"Our national debt has doubled over the past 10 years because Washington can’t set priorities,” Coburn said. "Wasteful project after wasteful project has piled up, creating a mountain of debt for future generations. With just over $200 billion stimulus dollars spent already, we hope this report will encourage the administration to spend remaining stimulus funds more wisely.”

McCain said, "With unemployment at 10 percent and an escalating national debt, we cannot afford to spend taxpayer dollars on projects that don’t create jobs or promote real and sustainable economic growth. This report shows that much of the stimulus bill has been a failure.”

The report states Oklahoma’s Transportation Department allotted $1.8 million in stimulus money to Oklahoma River Cruises, a service provided by the Central Oklahoma Transportation and Parking Authority in Oklahoma City. The funding was supposed to be used to operate and maintain boats owned by the service.

Another $1.1 million was awarded to Oklahoma State University professor Tammy Henderson to examine "the larger sociopolitical factors that shape grandparenthood in Alaska,” the report states.

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