A spending bill as enormous as the current stimulus package is going to include its fair share of expenditures that have nothing to do with stimulating the economy. Our representatives canâ€™t help themselves. Theyâ€™ll use any spending bill as an excuse to fund pet projects. The AP details some of the non-stimulus related projects lurking in the bill now in front of the Senate.
There’s $345 million for Agriculture Department computers, $650 million for TV converter boxes, $15 billion for college scholarships.
There’s $1 billion to deal with Census problems and $88 million to help move the Public Health Service into a new building next year. The Senate would devote $2.1 billion to pay off a looming shortfall in public housing accounts, $870 million to combat the flu and $400 million to slow the spread HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases such as chlamydia.
Some of the spending proposals are worthy, but Iâ€™m uncomfortable with a stimulus package that isnâ€™t solely focused on improving the economy. This bill should not be an excuse to fund other projects. Those projects should be put before Congress separately and debated on their own merits rather than being lumped in with the current bill.
We are already $10 trillion in debt. We do not have room to spend billions of dollars on projects not directly related to economic improvement. Despite what some would have you believe, not every dollar the government spends is good for the economy. Dollars should be spent in ways that maximize their potential for fueling economic growth.
Fortunately, several Democratic senators are voicing concern over the non-essential spending in the stimulus package. I can only hope the Senate strips the bill of its excesses.