USA Today reports that Army Corps of Engineers federal stimulus construction projects are mysteriously ending up in the districts of important lawmakers.
The newspaper’s analysis:
President Obama and Democratic leaders in Congress say the $787 billion stimulus package didn’t contain any money for projects requested by members of Congress. However, the stimulus law directs the corps to spend its extra funding on current projects — which were all selected by Congress in past spending bills.
The states getting the most money — California, Mississippi, Illinois, Texas and Florida — all have lawmakers serving on the appropriations committees. The seven states getting no corps stimulus funding include Michigan, which has the nation’s highest unemployment rate but no members on the energy and water spending panels in either chamber.
“This is a good example of the problem of spending money where a member of Congress wants to spend it vs. where it’s really needed,” says Tom Schatz of the non-partisan budget watchdog group Citizens Against Government Waste. The spending pattern reflects the priorities of appropriations committee members, not economic needs, he said.
Lawmakers with control over the corps’ budget say they didn’t tell the corps how to spend its stimulus money.
Well, that settles it. Nothing to analyze or second-guess here. Just honest, non self-serving politicians and a slew of happy coincidences. Oink oink.