Taxpayers for Common Sense vice president Steve Ellis e-mails reporters a list of projects getting funded in the $60.4 billion Sandy relief bill being pushed forward, including those that are either not Sandy-related and/or not urgent:
· a bill that would gut floodplain policy that was rejected 126-254 by the House five months ago
· $150 million for fishery disasters in places like Alaska and Mississippi
· $20,000 to buy a new car for the Department of Justice Inspector General (according to the GAO, Justice had 40,111 vehicles in FY2011)
· a 30 page Disaster Recovery Act of 2012, which is a subset of Landrieu/Cochran bill that has not been vetted by the Senate Committee
· blanket authority for the Corps of Engineers to green light any project they deem “cost-effective,” elimination of cost-overrun protections
· provision to allow FEMA to rebuild/relocate flood-prone state facilities in 30 states affected by flooding disaster declarations since August 2011
· $821 million in general funds (normally from a trust fund user fee) for dredging projects nationwide in areas affected by natural disasters (not just Sandy)
· $500,000 for study of storm damage reduction project performance in Sandy; $2.9 billion to rebuild projects before we even know the results of the study
· $9.7 billion increase of National Flood Insurance Program borrowing authority, potentially putting the federal flood insurance program $30 billion in debt to the treasury (the program took in $3.5 billion in premiums in 2011)
· $10.8 billion to the Federal Transit Administration. According to the Congressional Budget Office analysis, only 15% of the funds would be spent by the end of FY2014. CBO estimates that more than one-quarter of the FTA funds would not be spent until FY19 (six years from now) or later.
· Loan cancellations (forgiveness) for Katrina related loans, including potential forgiveness of loans and interest already repaid.
I wrote last week about the $150 million for fisheries.
What’s clear is that all talk of fiscal responsibility isn’t stopping politicians from hurriedly passing into law huge amounts of spending, a significant chunk of which will not be used any time soon.