Government Stimulus Consists Of Fraud and Abuse

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Stimulus: The government's stimulus program, not even six months old, is turning into a major source of both fraud and pork barrel spending. If this were a private business, it would have been shut down long ago.

Sen. Tom Coburn, a Republican from Oklahoma, did taxpayers a favor Tuesday by showcasing 100 wasteful government projects that have been funded by the $787 billion stimulus.

Combing through the long list of stimulus projects, Coburn found some real winners. Projects that have won millions of taxpayer dollars include everything from a turtle crossing in northern Florida, at a cost of $3.4 million, to a guardrail near a man-made lake that no longer contains any water, with a price tag of $1.1 million.

Other doozies include:

• $1 billion for the FutureGen power project in Illinois, called the biggest earmark ever. And no one is sure it will even work.

• $800,000 to pave a runway at John Murtha Airport — dubbed the Airport for Nobody because it's rarely used.

• Money from stimulus funds for 10,000 dead people.

These and others like them sound like small potatoes, and indeed, Coburn's 100 add up to just $5.5 billion — peanuts in a $3.6 trillion budget. But expect the waste to grow as we spend more money on politically backed pork projects that local governments sensibly have refused to fund with their own money.

Worse still is the rampant fraud that goes with this out-of-control spending. Vice President Joe Biden accidentally let the cat out of the bag two weeks ago, telling business leaders in New York: "We know some of this money is going to be wasted. There are going to be mistakes made. Some people are being scammed already."

This isn't just hot air.

A report by Deloitte Touche last week said that about $500 billion of the $787 billion in stimulus will be spent through the "traditional (government) procurement network." Using past performance as a gauge, Deloitte Touche predicted as much as $50 billion will end up being fraudulently spent — or 10% of the total.

Similarly, the head of the Recovery Act Accountability and Transparency Board estimates $55 billion in waste, fraud and abuse.

We're not surprised. The whole stimulus program has been a fraud from the start, promising millions of jobs and delivering few, and playing on Americans' fears to get the stimulus passed right away, because we simply couldn't wait. So far, only 6% of the total has been spent. The "emergency" was a sham.

This may be why 45% of taxpayers in a June 10 Rasmussen Poll said they'd halt stimulus spending now vs. just 36% who want it continued. They know it's not stimulus at all. It's waste, fraud and abuse on a grand scale — almost as if it was planned that way.

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