Stimulus “Earmarks” Continue to Rise

In case anyone still things that the “stimulus” package is all about trying to spur economic growth–here is more proof that its fast becoming just a list of earmarks (though not called that): Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), wants a tax credit of 25%, not to exceed $5,000, for home and business owners to weather-proof their homes and businesses to better withstand hurricane force winds, tornadoes, and water intrusion. Why should tax dollars from Michigan, Vermont, and North Dakota go to help Florida, California, and Kansas with their homes? Where are the tax dollars from the Southern states to help the North snow proof their roads or buy ice scrapers for their cars? Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC), wants to designate $15 million for the Historic Preservation Fund within the National Park Service for the renovation and preservation of buildings on Historically Black Colleges and Universities campuses. It also waives the institutional match for projects under this provision. As important as museums are, is that how we are going to stimulate the economy? Some argue, its just $15 million–but that is why I bring it up. There are dozens of provisions in the stimulus bill for relatively small amounts, but it does not follow logically that because we are spending a lot of money on all “this other stuff” that a small project can slip through. That is the essence of wasteful spending. And its what happens with big spending bills like this. On a positive note, the Associated Press reported this morning that House Democrats are likely to jettison family planning funds for the low-income from the stimulus, following a personal appeal from President Barack Obama. Whatever the value there is or isn’t in tax dollar provided contraceptives, their stimulative power is not financial, and only serves as a highlighted example of how legislators are using this as an opportunity to get their best spending ideas through. Senator John Kerry as much as admitted that this was just a big comprehensive spending plan, taking advantage of the recession opportunity: “a stimulus package by itself is not enough. If we are going to cure our economy, we need to address all these issues at once. We need a comprehensive, coordinated plan that ensures we have all the resources needed.” If Congress is intent on a stimulus, efficient spending must be top priority, not political gain or pet projects.