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.
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.