Thursday, February 5, 2009

Senator Coburn's List/"Paid Volunteers"

A couple of days ago Senator Coburn of Oklahoma, who has in the past co-sponsored legislation with then-Senator Obama to increase transparency in budgeting, published a list of what he calls "Wasteful and non-Stimulus provisions in the Stimulus Bill." It's quite a lengthy list ! I had to chuckle at the "$160 million for paid volunteers." Huh ? First, I am not sure what a "paid" volunteer is. Second, if reducing taxes on citizens (including volunteers) will not stimulate the economy, as President Obama claims, then why will sending volunteers a check do so ?? In either case, the recipients may simply save the new found money, thus not stimulating consumption. (Recall my earlier post that mentione the "paradox of thrift.")

Senator Coburn has introduced numerous amendments to the bill, including a provision that would prevent any allocations to universities with endowments over $15 Billion or which spent over $100 million annually on lobbying. Recall in this connection my earlier post reporting that Higher Education ranks 7th among America's various industries in expenditures on lobbying.

Senator Coburn would also transform aid to the states from grants to loans the states would actually have to pay back.

In any event, here is the Senator's list:

• $2 billion earmark to re-start FutureGen, a near-zero emissions coal power plant in Illinois that the Dept. of Energy defunded last year because the project was inefficient • A $246 million tax break for Hollywood movie producers to buy motion picture film • $650 million for the digital television (DTV) converter box coupon program • $88 million for the Coast Guard to design a new polar icebreaker (arctic ship) • $448 million for constructing the Dept. of Homeland Security headquarters • $248 million for furniture at the new Dept. of Homeland Security headquarters • $600 million to buy hybrid vehicles for federal employees • $400 million for the CDC to screen and prevent STD’s • $1.4 billion for a rural waste disposal programs • $150 million for Smithsonian museum facilities • $1 billion for the 2010 Census, which has a projected cost overrun of $3 billion • $75 million for “smoking cessation activities” • $200 million for public computer centers at community colleges • $75 million for salaries of employees at the FBI • $25 million for tribal alcohol and substance abuse reduction • $10 million to inspect canals in urban areas • $6 billion to turn federal buildings into “green” buildings • $500 million for state and local fire stations • $650 million for wildland fire management on Forest Service lands • $150 million for Smithsonian museum facilities • $1.2 billion for “youth activities,” including youth summer job programs • $88 million for renovating the headquarters of the Public Health Service • $412 million for CDC buildings and property • $500 million for building and repairing NIH facilities in Bethesda, MD • $160 million for “paid volunteers” at the Corporation for National and Community Service • $5.5 million for “energy efficiency initiatives” at the VA “National Cemetery Administration” • $850 million for Amtrak • $100 million for reducing the hazard of lead-based paint • $75M to construct a new “security training” facility for State Dept Security officers when they can be trained at existing facilities of other agencies. • $110 million to the Farm Service Agency to upgrade computer systems • $200 million in funding for the lease of alternative energy vehicles for use on military installations. • State Medicaid Bailout: $87.7 billion.