How to blow $787 billion – American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009

In perusing the Recovery.gov site, I found some interesting things.  It doesn’t say anything, but it has a link, to a link where you can read the whole text of the bill.  You can click 4 times through the various websites and messages to get there, but eventually you wind up here. (One click, I promise.)

The short title of the bill is the “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009”.  I’m reading through it, and I’ll copy some important stuff later.  Here are a few choice quotes from the recovery.gov FAQ:

Q: How will the Recovery Act work?
A: Very soon, the different agencies — such as the Departments of Education; Health and Human Services; and Energy — will decide who will receive award grants and contracts. Sometimes the money will go to a state government; other times, the funds will go directly to a school, hospital, contractor, or other organization. Agencies will then deliver that information to the Recovery.gov team. We will subsequently make the information available on Recovery.gov, and you will be able to track where the money is going. You’ll be able to search by state or even by Congressional district; you’ll be able to look up names of Federal contractors or other recipients of Federal dollars; and you’ll be able to send in comments, thoughts, ideas, questions, and any responses you have to what you find.

So these agencies will decide who gets our money.  Neither the President nor Congress knows right now.  Which means there’s no way Congress knew when they voted to spend the money.  Which means they voted for a “pig in a poke“.

And when they say “you’ll be able to look up names of Federal contractors or other recipients of Federal dollars”, I hope they mean it.  I want to see who, by name, got my money to help pay their mortgage.

Q: I heard I’d be able to track recovery funds. Why can’t I do that?
A: You aren’t able to track funds yet because we have not yet started receiving information from Federal agencies on how they are going to allocate the money.

Same as above.  They’re basically saying that “we gave these agencies a boatload of your money – and we don’t have a clue what they’re going to do with it”.

Ok, on to the actual bill.  This is going to be basically random copy and paste portions of the bill as I read things that I think are stupid.  Or that have absolutely nothing to do with economic stimulus or recovery.  In other words, things that are a bunch of crap that shouldn’t be receiving our tax money under any circumstances – especially under the guise of a stimulus package to create jobs.

The parts in italics are direct quotes.  I’ve cut a lot of verbiage.  When you see “….” that means that I edited a chunk of text that merely makes it unreadable.  You are welcome to read the bill yourself if you think I changed the meaning of the text by this editing.  I don’t think I did, but you can read it and make your own decision if you’d like.   Any text [inside of these brackets] are my comments.

  • $1.38 billion for direct loans and grants for the rural water, waste water, and waste disposal programs
  • $2.5 billion for the cost of broadband loans and loan guarantees
  • $290 million for ‘‘Watershed and Flood Prevention Operations’’
  • $100 million for National School Lunch Program equipment
  • $500 million for the special supplemental nutrition program
  • $150 million For an additional amount for the emergency food assistance program
  • Section 101 doesn’t provide a dollar amount, but it states the value of benefits ….  for Puerto Rico and American Samoa …. shall be calculated using 113.6 percent of the June 2008 value….
  • Another one with no cost listed.  ….the Secretary of Agriculture may not reduce the value of the maximum allotments, minimum allotments or consolidated block grants for Puerto Rico and American Samoa.… [WTF?]
  • $5 million For the costs relating to facility improvements and equipment upgrades associated with the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservation [Side note – this section also contains one of the many loopholes big enough to drive a supertanker through – it states]  (f) FUNDING.—There are appropriated to the Secretary out of funds of the Treasury not otherwise appropriated such sums as are necessary to carry out this section. [In other words, they are saying that “if we didn’t actually give you enough money, we hereby give you the right to take as much money as you think you need to do the bullshit that we asked you to do.]
  • Dozens of items relating to farm programs with absofuckinglutely no numbers given, but where Congress authorized them to spend our money.  Crap that gives agencies a blank check like this one (E) AUTHORITY OF THE SECRETARY.—The Secretary may provide such additional assistance as the Secretary considers appropriate to provide equitable treatment for eligible producers on a farm that suffered production losses in the 2008 crop year that result in multiyear production losses, as determined by the Secretary. [Bullshit.  With a capital B.]
  • $50 million to assist eligible aquaculture producers for losses associated with high feed input costs
  • $1 billion For an additional amount for Periodic Censuses and Programs [WTF are we giving the Census Bureau an additional $1 billion for?]
  • $4.7 billion for Broadband Technology Opportunities Program [We already gave them $2.5 billion – why a separate line giving them another $4.7 billion?]
  • $650 million for Digital-to-Analog Converter Box Program [Ummm, that was already supposed to be over with – just like the bailout goes on longer and costs more money, the DTV conversion is also dragging on and getting more expensive.]
  • $360 million for Construction of Research Facilities
  • $225 million for Violence Against Women Prevention and Prosecution Programs
  • $2 billion for the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant program
  • $225 million for assistance to Indian tribes
  • $1 billion For an additional amount for ‘‘Community Oriented Policing Services’’
  • $10 million For an additional amount, not elsewhere specified in this title, for management and administration and oversight of programs within the Office on Violence Against Women, the Office of Justice Programs, and the Community Oriented Policing Services Office [We gave them billions just above – this is an additional $10 million to administer the programs we gave them the money for!]

Believe it or not, I’m skipping billions of dollars of spending – either because it didn’t make for an easy copy and paste, or I thought it might actually create a few jobs.

Here’s something else you won’t believe – I’m only on page 16 of the bill!  ALL of the above spending is in the first few pages, I haven’t gotten anywhere near the good stuff yet.  For example, here’s how page 17 starts out:

SCIENCE
For an additional amount for ‘‘Science’’, $400,000,000.
AERONAUTICS
For an additional amount for ‘‘Aeronautics’’, $150,000,000.
EXPLORATION
For an additional amount for ‘‘Exploration’’, $400,000,000.
CROSS AGENCY SUPPORT
For an additional amount for ‘‘Cross Agency Support’’,
$50,000,000.
OFFICE OF INSPECTOR GENERAL
For an additional amount for ‘‘Office of Inspector General’’,
$2,000,000, to remain available until September 30, 2013

That’s over $1 billion in just a few lines at the top of the page – and that’s just NASA’s portion of it.  Just below that the National Science Foundation gets $2.5 billion for Research and Related Activities.

Someone tell me how any of the stuff above is supposed to stimulate the economy.  How does it create jobs – other than paying bureaucrats to administer the programs.  We’d create more jobs by paying a group of people to dig holes on even numbered days – then fill them in on odd numbered days.  And we’d accomplish just as much.

It’s midnight and I’m going to bed.  I’ll probably add to this or post another article later when I read more of this crappy waste of our money.

gk

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