There are several wasteful spending programs in the stimulus bill passed by the House yesterday. Here are a few provisions the Senate should consider cutting out of their version (unless they are interested in just shutting down the whole process):
- $650 million to extend the $40 coupon program to subsidize the purchase of analog-to-digital converter boxes
So get this, not only does the government consider providing digital television subsidies a stimulus, but it is imposing a 5% tariff on the boxes shipped in from overseas. So essentially collecting money off the boxes, then will be using some of that money to buy more.
- $600 million to buy new cars for government workers
The Federal government already has a fleet of about 642,000 trucks, passenger cars, and other vehicles. One-third of the fleet is made up of passenger cars. Vehicle fleet managed competition to provide services would be a much better, cheaper, higher quality option.
- $150 million for repairs to Smithsonian Institution facilities
The Smithsonian recently spent $31,000 for designer Berkeley striped upholstery, $2,535 to clean a chandelier, and $4,000 for a heater for the lap pool of their most recent Director who had a $1.2 million housing allowance. Always good to stimulate even more inefficient use of taxpayer dollars.
- $50 million for the National Endowment for the Arts
Not to be outdone by their museum colleagues, recent expenditures of the NEA include: $95,000 for the American Ballet Theatre in New York City, $300,000 to restore an outdoor sculpture collection in Miami, Florida, and $190,000 for various artistic endeavors in San Francisco, CA. While art does have value, whether funding more will help the economy, and whether the tax dollars of all should pay for it, is an important and ignored question.
- $462 million for equipment, construction, and renovation of facilities at the Centers for Disease Control
Yes, the CDC may serve an important role, but given that they lost $22 million worth of equipment in 2007 gives one pause at offering them 21 times that amount. The CDC also spends $500,000 a year for an office in Hollywood whose mission is to help directors improve the accuracy of their scripts and used taxpayer funds for a $60 million upgrade to a "Japanese Garden".
There is also $3 billion for prevention and wellness programs, including $335 million for STD education and prevention, $1 billion for the follow-up to the 2010 Census (not to be spent until April of 2010), $200 million for ATV routes, $200 million for military electric cars, $34 million to renovate the Commerce Department headquarters, and $75 million for an anti-smoking campaign (yes, smokers, your tax dollars hard at work).