GOP: Stimulus Money Brings 'Summertime Blues'

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WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration has said its $862 billion economic stimulus package was needed to save the country from the next great depression. However, a new report by two prominent Republicans argue that the spending has wasted taxpayer dollars.

According to the new report, close to $2 billion is being wasted on dozens of projects that won't do anything to help the economy.

"I think none of them really have any meaningful impact on creating jobs," Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said. "And of course some are more egregious than others."

The report, called "Summertime Blues" by McCain and Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., lists 100 stimulus projects that are either wasteful, mismanaged or just plain unsuccessful in creating jobs.

Cited examples include:

  • $1 million to study exotic ants
  • $71,000 to study how monkeys react under the influence of cocaine.
  • $500,000 is going to replace windows at Mt. St. Helens Visitors Center in Castle Rock, Wash.

The problem with the Mt. St. Helens project is that the center is closed indefinitely and $308 million is being used to build a California power plant that won't break ground for two years. The plant is owned in part by British Petroleum.

The White House argues the report is filled with errors.

"Unfortunately Senators Coburn and McCain have a very bad track record on this type of a report," said Jared Bernstein, chief economic advisor for Vice President Joe Biden.

The White House said the report paints an unfair picture since some of the projects cited technically are not stimulus projects. They added that those projects that are actually are intended to be stimulus projects are creating or saving jobs. And they said that $2 billion in supposed waste is less than 1 quarter of 1 percent of the stimulus funds.

Regardless of what White House says, polls shows the public hasn't bought into the stimulus. Just 29 percent of voters believe it has helped the economy. Forty-three percent believe think it hurt the economy.

The same poll also shows 69 percent think tax cuts are a better way to create jobs than more government spending. Such statistics are not good news for President Barack Obama who has just hit a new low approval rating of 41 percent. Still, Obama has kept pressing on.

"After 18 months, I can say with confidence we are on the right track," Obama said.

But even his administration has admitted the pace of recovery is slow.

"It's not growing back as quickly as we'd like," Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said.

And with the new unemployment figures expected to show a slight increase while consumer spending has stalled and personal incomes were sluggish in June, matters won't be getting better any time soon -- and certainly not before the elections in November.

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