Last week, the House passed the then-$819 billion stimulus bill — without a single Republican vote. GOP senators vowed to oppose it as well, calling it a colossal waste of money, packed with pork and non-essential spending.
NBC broke down some of the bigger numbers in the bill, for example: $275 billion in tax relief, $90 billion for infrastructure, $79 billion for school funding, etc. Sounds good, right? But in the fine print, there’s a lot of proposed spending that may raise a few eyebrows. In an interview with President , CBS’ Katie Couric called him on some of the more unusual proposals:
– $6.2 billion for home weatherization
– $50 million for port modernization and Guamneeds in
-$100 million for children to learn green construction
Obama defended the weatherization spending by emphasizing the long-term effects:
“We’re going to weatherize homes, that immediately puts people back to work and we’re going to train people who are out of work, including young people, to do the weatherization. As a consequence of weatherization, our energy bills go down and we reduce our dependence on foreign oil. What would be a more effectivethan that?”
Fair enough. But what about the $800 million for Amtrak? Or the $150 million for the Smithsonian Institute? And there’s more: So much more, in fact, that the , a conservative think tank, has set up a website that allows users to comb through the more than 900-page-long bill. You decide: Economic stimulus or wasteful spending?
– $75 million for “ activities”
– $87 million for the “design of a new polar icebreaker”
– $335 million for HIV/STD screening
All projects worthy of money, to be sure, but are they worthy of being part of an $900 billion?that’s now expected to cost U.S. taxpayers
However, both sides have signaled a willingness to concede. In an interview with CNN, Obama said he would consider cutting items that “may not really stimulate the economy right now.” And in the spirit of bipartisanship, (D-Nebraska) and (R-Maine) are working together to compile a list of recommended cuts, with a goal of reducing the bill by $200 billion.
But as the economy continues to shrink and layoffs pile up by the tens of thousands, the nation may not have the patience for cross-party squabbling and finger-pointing. At the White House today, Obama summed it up: