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The latest pork list

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February 03, 2009 – Comments (17) | RELATED TICKERS: POR , K

The Republicans in the Senate published a list of what they consider to be pork in the latest version of the stimulus bill.  There is a lot of unbelievable stuff on there. 

The more things change, the more they stay the same.  This money should be given back to the hard-working people who earned it or used for projects that will effectively stimulate economic activity.  I have put the ones that offend me the most in bold and italicized the ones that don't bother me that much.

• $2 billion earmark to re-start FutureGen, a near-zero emissions coal power plant in Illinois that the Department of Energy defunded last year because it said the project was inefficient.

• A $246 million tax break for Hollywood movie producers to buy motion picture film.

• $650 million for the digital television converter box coupon program.

• $88 million for the Coast Guard to design a new polar icebreaker (arctic ship).

• $448 million for constructing the Department of Homeland Security headquarters.

• $248 million for furniture at the new Homeland Security headquarters.

• $600 million to buy hybrid vehicles for federal employees.

• $400 million for the Centers for Disease Control to screen and prevent STD's.

• $1.4 billion for rural waste disposal programs?  [What in the heck is this.  If it involves building sewers than I would consider it infrastructure and it is probably OK]

• $125 million for the Washington sewer system.

• $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.

• $500 million for flood reduction projects on the Mississippi River.

• $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.

• $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 National Institutes of Health facilities in Bethesda, Maryland.

• $160 million for "paid volunteers" at the Corporation for National and Community Service.

• $5.5 million for "energy efficiency initiatives" at the Department of Veterans Affairs National Cemetery Administration.

• $850 million for Amtrak.  I'll go with this one, but one has to wonder how efficiently this money will be spent.

• $100 million for reducing the hazard of lead-based paint.

• $75 million to construct a "security training" facility for State Department 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.

Deej

17 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On February 03, 2009 at 12:53 PM, kdakota630 (29.66) wrote:

I read something about $150 million for "honeybee insurance" whatever that is.

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#2) On February 03, 2009 at 1:09 PM, DarkToast (56.25) wrote:

"$650 million for wildland fire management on forest service lands."

Slash burning and prescribed burning employ a lot of marginally educated people. It is also a very fun job. Most of the work is done by contractors, not federal employees. Most of the contractors are small locally owned businesses. This is likely to really be stimulus, and probably would create some value for timber companies.

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#3) On February 03, 2009 at 1:14 PM, blake303 (29.28) wrote:

No honeybees = no humans. They should have called it "Crop Insurance" or "Food Insurance" to avoid undue criticism, but crop pollination ensures our survival. Google honeybee disappearance or colony collapse if you believe that this is pork. I don't know if $150 million is an appropriate amount, but I'm willing to chip in my $0.50 to protect our food supply.

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#4) On February 03, 2009 at 1:15 PM, Alex1963 (28.64) wrote:

Deej,

Most of these items look fine to me. Consistent witht the platform Obama ran on and targeted at the areas most Americans thought needed attention, & still do after 8 years of short shrifting. Obviously how the money is used is critical if it just goes to some fat cat insiders companies rather than being put out to bid etc,

I see health care cost reducing items, I see promotion of energy savings and green initiatives, I see forward looking energy production money, public safety, work training/youth, science etc. I'm sure it'll get tweaked and negotiated anyway but I personally like the basic directions here.

What's the problem?

Alex

 

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#5) On February 03, 2009 at 1:21 PM, devoish (98.38) wrote:

Other than the tax breaks for film it seems like good spending to me. Alot of it looks like it will lower future Gov't energy and healthcare costs.

Especially with global warming the icebreaker will be needed. As the ice disappears in the summer more exploration and fishing will take place. Each winter it will freeze, and it is likely the private enterprise in the artic ocean will need to be rescued, if they get caught in the freeze.

Making clean coal a reality would be a good thing if possible. Especially prior to building more coal powered generators.

The second biggest waste I can think of in the bill is increased tax breaks to encourage building more empty houses in the Nevada desert. I am surprised the Republicans aren't jumping all over that one.

The first biggest waste and possibly the most expensive part is nuclear loan guarantees, which risk putting taxpayers on the hook for failed nuclear power plant spending programs. Especially with the waste problem not solved. Spending on research to solve the waste problem would be welcome.

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#6) On February 03, 2009 at 1:24 PM, GNUBEE (26.87) wrote:

$88 million for the Coast Guard to design a new polar icebreaker (arctic ship).

didn't the previous bill have money for researching global warming?

 If you let it get warmer, you wont need an ice breaker...$88 million saved!

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#7) On February 03, 2009 at 2:03 PM, Terok1313 (31.50) wrote:

Alex - The problem is that this is supposed to be an economic stimulus package, not a do everything Obama promised at once package.

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#8) On February 03, 2009 at 2:11 PM, socialconscious wrote:

Good post TMFDEEJ and I believe much of this will disappear in the Senate. The census is necessary for the gov dessimination of goods and services and as a primer for business. I worked the census once. It should be presented as more of a volunteer civic service opportunity or just be afforded to folks who need a good allbeit temp full-time job.  No doubt different pork will be added but in fairness my proposed cuts.....  

This is pork because it could be better spent

$2 billion earmark to re-start FutureGen, a near-zero emissions coal power plant in Illinois that the Department of Energy defunded last year because it said the project was inefficient.

Tell producers to buy their own D$%@ film or work out a deal with struggling Kodak or raise movie tkts by a quarter.

A $246 million tax break for Hollywood movie producers to buy motion picture film.

Tell HS to go to Ikea.

$248 million for furniture at the new Homeland Security headquarters.

These seem like INFRASTRUCTURE

  $125 million for the Washington sewer system.

 1.4 billion for rural waste disposal programs

500 million for flood reduction projects on the Mississippi River.

850 million for Amtrak. AGREED--->  I'll go with this one, but one has to wonder how efficiently this money will be spent.

$10 million to inspect canals in urban areas.

 

 

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#9) On February 03, 2009 at 4:27 PM, Alex1963 (28.64) wrote:

Terok et al

I hear you but I think there is stimulus in this package. And why can't it be both? Don't you want to see a president at least try to honor his campaign promises? I wonder what Obama critics would say if he weren't trying to do this which is EXACTLY whatt he promised he'd do. You may not be one but they are out there, very vocal, and very crabby right now. In fact, I propose another $50 Million for Sour Grapes Relief. And "Even He If He Does Walk On Water He's Still A Big Ole Phony Syndrome" psychaiatric counseling" Rush can have the 1st couch. LOL

• $2 billion earmark to re-start FutureGen, a near-zero emissions coal power plant.  Construction & open the door for more construction of other facilities, if it proves viable. campaing promise related

• A $246 million tax break for Hollywood movie producers to buy motion picture film. A huge export industry for the US. One of the industries NOT getting outsourced.

• $650 million for the digital television converter box coupon program. More money for the low income & elderly etc who may not be able to afford the equipment needed after the mandated changeover-which should be postponed IMO. More cash right in peoples pockets while still upgrading to a better technology with far ranging information & life quality enhancement potential.

• $88 million for the Coast Guard to design a new polar icebreaker (arctic ship). need this to study warming trends, Only be able to get thru w/o a better ice breaker if we are past the point of no return, Gnubee (but if that was a joke I can appreciate your attempt at irony..)

• $448 million for constructing the Department of Homeland Security headquarters. Construction again. I haven't looked into why they need new space but if they don't I bet this'll get canned anyway

• $248 million for furniture at the new Homeland Security headquarters. Same as above but maybe they need better furniture to make us all safe-didn't think of that one did you LOL

• $600 million to buy hybrid vehicles for federal employees. This is obvious and a very good use of funds. This industry needs a boost and if it proves to a viable option the private sector may follow suit ensuring more employment in that industry plus the support industries.

• $400 million for the Centers for Disease Control to screen and prevent STD's. Health savings by preventing the millions or billions in medical expenses from the infected and sick including AIDS. Jobs, technology to support, biotechs to have a place to sell their better screening products etc.

$1.4 billion for rural waste disposal programs?  Envirornment/jobs. Poor waste disposal costs billions to clean up. Jobs, and taxpayer cost savings down the line.

$125 million for the Washington sewer system. Construction jobs, taxpayer savings for not having to repair an obsolete system (plus, they have to have a reliable way to get rid of all the bullsh*t they create in Wash. It'd be hip deep otherwise :)

$150 million for Smithsonian museum facilities. Let's see, the repositiry of some of America's most important records, art and artifacts. Don't know the whole story but $150M doesn't seem awful after so much funding cuts in the arts the last 8 years.

• $1 billion for the 2010 Census, which has a projected cost overrun of $3 billion. This proboably needs cutting but I hope I'm right that no one thinks we should do away with the census right? If needed I suppose they could postpone but my understanding is that critical data from these reports helps businesses plan, economists figure, and us investors see emerging trends.

• $75 million for "smoking cessation activities." Health care sector jobs. Good move, This costs taxpayers millions and is the one of the biggest contributors to untimely death and aggravated illnesses A drop in the bucket for a very worthy cause

$200 million for public computer centers at community colleges. Computer sales, education, again small % of overall stimulus and a growth move

• $75 million for salaries of employees at the FBI. I think we still need the FBI unfortunately. if they are having budget issues I think it's better to fund payroll than lay off. But go back soon and start streamlining inefficencies if needed..

• $25 million for tribal alcohol and substance abuse reduction. Again, health care work and taxpayer savings on expensive and preventible medical costs.

$500 million for flood reduction projects on the Mississippi River. Construction stimulus. Downline FEMA insurance savings for the taxpayer

• $10 million to inspect canals in urban areas. Construction/consulting/public safety-good

$6 billion to turn federal buildings into "green" buildings. Construction industry & consulting, Jobs, down payment on less overall national energy use, Jump start for critical future industry that was beginning to flourish and is now dying on the vine with corp fiscal fear. Good move

• $500 million for state and local fire stations. Not much too money for community life and safety. Jobs, consulting, equipment. All good.

• $650 million for wildland fire management on forest service lands. Jobs, protection of invaluable natural resource, 8 years of massive underfunding, Safety. Good!

• $1.2 billion for "youth activities," including youth summer job programs. providing work for kids who could be out breaking into your car or dealing drigs, cheap labor for communities, job  training. Great!

• $88 million for renovating the headquarters of the Public Health Service. Construction related jobs, But again if they don't have a dilapidated facility this can wait IMO

• $412 million for CDC buildings and property. Center For Disease Control part of the team that work on chemical threats to US. Also construction related jobs-Absolutely

• $500 million for building and repairing National Institutes of Health facilities in Bethesda, Maryland. Same as CDC

$160 million for "paid volunteers" at the Corporation for National and Community Service. Yes, get more volunteers nationwide and watch what Americans can do. Also this is jobs and another area vastly short shrifted over the last 8 yrs. We are definitely short a few "miliion points of light"

$5.5 million for "energy efficiency initiatives" at the Department of Veterans Affairs National Cemetery Administration. Yes to any energy efficiency initiatives for the jjobs + kick starting this potentially huge industry for the inevitable increase in energy costs of inefficient buildings

• $850 million for Amtrak.  I'll go with this one, but one has to wonder how efficiently this money will be spent. Mee, too

• $100 million for reducing the hazard of lead-based paint. Jobs, health care savings, public saftety-Good!

• $75 million to construct a "security training" facility for State Department Security officers. Who says it's efficient to "train them at other existing facilities". No comment but if it's truly redundant don't do it. If it's needed then it's more construction, architecture, consulting work etc

$110 million to the Farm Service Agency to upgrade computer systems. They can get a great deal at Dell right now, that's for sure! Again if it is needed to make this agncy more efficient, provides a boost to a badly hit sector to ease morelayoffs etc. Good!

• $200 million in funding for the lease of alternative energy vehicles for use on military installations. Covered this already. Excellent use of stimulsu money especially if they buy American made vehicles

 Sincerely

Alex

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#10) On February 03, 2009 at 8:37 PM, Bupp (28.62) wrote:

The Icebreaker ship is a good call.  There is some serious posturing going on between all the nations that are in the arctic over who owns which lands/islands/oil + gas reserves in underwater reserves.

As a canadian I wish we could get our act together and assert our claim on these lands/resources but I guess it's better that the US get them than the russians.

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#11) On February 04, 2009 at 5:31 AM, DaretothREdux (46.97) wrote:

My response is the same as before.

My response to Alex is here.

Government spending is always "waste," this amount will BK the country in the long run.

I have no problem with tax breaks of any kind because the government inevitably will spend whatever they make in taxes and however much deficit they can run on top of that.

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#12) On February 04, 2009 at 10:49 AM, cwlawrence (< 20) wrote:

Surprisingly, every $1 spent on the movie industry returns close to $1.50 (in jobs created, household income, and local economic stimulus).

Not bad, considering tax cuts and rebates result in a net loss ($1 = $0.94) 

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#13) On February 05, 2009 at 5:54 PM, Alex1963 (28.64) wrote:

Dare,

Gee don't knock yourself out on my account!

Sorry but a) I've read that blog post before (at the urging WhereamInow) and Amassafortune did a fine job already of addressing the points I would have made throughout.

b) Not to get all Ms Manners on you, but I took time to answer this post with a specific reply to Deejs blog. I could easily have referenced other posts of mine, requiring him to wade thru reams of other reply posts to get to my contributions which though they may be relevent lack the courtesy and specificity of a personal and thoughtful reply. I'll be blunt and say I find that to be dismissive way to respond. You don't get to assign me what amounts to homework especially not to a humongous blog like that one however edifying you may think I will find it. I'm not your student. Now if I had replied to a post of yours then you referring me to another post might have been less what...rude? But still kind of assumptive that someone would think a reply to someone else is adequate to their detailed & personal reply to you. If you don't have time to make a personal response don't, or wait until you do.  OK. got that off of my chest) And I will give you the courtesy of a full response.

Government spending is not always waste. That is simply a ridiculous statement. I would add to Amass' excellent points (in that novella of postings you linked above) with gov't backed funding for astronomy equipment, facilities and research and other pure science endeavors, The Space program is another example of gov't investment having spun off breakthroughs and developments which have enriched lives the world over and birthed innovations and even industries too numerous to count. An undertaking simply not concievable by a corpaoration in either case onany impactful scale anyway, The by products of which the civilized world makes use of each day in their homes and offices-like Tang for one, and some really fine movies for another so there :)

I simply do not agree with you nor the Libertarian (never been tried on any scale fairy tale of governance/economics) nor the extremes of laissez faire policy which are at the root of so much of of our current mess IMO. The goals Obama is trying to implement with a stimulus are necessary to our immediate and future security, prosperity and a good step towards the recently forgotten ideals of liberty and justice for all, because all men are created equal with certain inalienable rights etc. No budget should EVER be crafted and negotiated without all the participants, blustering republicans included, having these goals in the forefront of their minds and consciences. We can have both an economic and idealogical stimulus. Plus, Americans by majority elected Obama on reinvigorating these priciples and I see him targeting these areas of need beautifully. You don't budget them out to posture about tax breaks and trickle down ecomnomic BS. I've personally been trickled on all I care to be.

I have said this in many postings of mine all over MF. I believe people and companies are too fearful to meaningfully consume, hire or reinvest in anything until there is some sign of a direction/improvement. In fact the current stimulus may not be enough, we'll see and I hope it does the job. In the meantime everyone worldwide will hunker down to see when and where the next shoe's going to drop. Stalemate. Corps see consumers not spending> cut expenses and payrolls> consumers see less work and more unemployed and now their are less people to spend so they spend even less> corps cut more jobs and expenses, and so in ina never ending spiral. I have not seen any ideas which address this very real issue, which I see as a fact, as direclty as a carefully crafted, long & short term stimulus (such as is listed above by Deej). Bush turnd a blind eye for at least a year - 18 months and the less extreme options we may have had are long gone) We are in too deep and the patient is nearly in a coma. Time to rescuscitate by any and all means.

Sincerely

Alex

 

 

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#14) On February 09, 2009 at 8:53 PM, jester112358 (28.79) wrote:

The real question is:  isn't overstimulation (easy credit money) what got us into the current "credit crisis"?   You can't solve a debt problem by by taking on more debt.  The country needs to deleverage!  Spending creates more debt for future generations and guarantees high taxes or default (we're just lucky to have the reserve currency) in the future.  No matter how worthly or worthless the individual items might appear.  The real question not addressed is:  what's wrong with deflation?  I say nothing.  Its as natural as boom and bust.   Of course, if you're in debt you want to inflate your way out of it.  Or as banksters like to say, "a rolling loan gathers no loss".

 And does anyone really believe the government is more efficient at distributing capital than an individual who has to earn that capital by labor or investing?  Politicians have no "skin in the game", just like the fools who bought houses with no downpayment, interest only loans.

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#15) On February 09, 2009 at 9:07 PM, TMFTomGardner (90.52) wrote:

Unless I'm mistaken, the motion picture provision was stricken. I know there is cause for deep skepticism, bordering on cynicism. Against that, I do see cause for optimism. I believe we are entering a period of major legislative change, brought on by the opportunity to assemble on the Internet. I think over the next decade, we will see substantiallly more information shared by the people about how the world works. I believe that earmarking is at great risk. I believe we will substantially heightened accountability for public officials. I believe we will see the practice of lobbying brought dramatically under control (not immediately, but eventually). And I think we will see resignations of elected officials who have abused the system and/or try to abuse the system going forward. Of course it won't happen overnight. It's really just beginning. Bottom of the first inning. But name a time in modern history when so many Americans learned about so many aspects of political governance. I'm not saying we will continue with this heightened level of scrutiny in the months to come. But I believe in the years ahead, as we're hit with high rates of inflation, and we begin really looking to sharpen spending across all aspects of American life, the political process will change for the better. The provision for the motion picture industry was an outright and utter disgrace. It is absolutely for shame that it ever found its way into this bill. But again, I believe it has been stricken. And I believe there's a reason for that -- heightened transparency driven by the Internet.

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#16) On February 09, 2009 at 9:16 PM, Seano67 (82.21) wrote:

• $160 million for "paid volunteers" at the Corporation for National and Community Service.

 

'Paid volunteers', well that sounds positively Orwellian. 

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#17) On February 10, 2009 at 6:56 PM, Alex1963 (28.64) wrote:

TMFTomG

Hear hear! Great post I agree 100% I hope we are both right but just in case I'm invloved to get my views heard! Can't wait til election time to let these people know what we want in terms of transparency & accountability and real change. We have to stay on top of them!

Alex 

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