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Thanks to Uncle Sam, a 90-year-old in the hills of West Virginia soon will be able to use a new broadband connection to apply for a new job cleaning up one of the government’s decaying nuclear weapons production sites.
This person will be able to use a special one-time $250 cash payment from Social Security to purchase a ticket on a new high-speed rail link, which will magically transport the elderly applicant to his job interview.
Unfortunately, when he arrives at this radioactive job-creation venue, our friend from West Virginia will be informed that the government’s new electronic database of all of the nation’s health records indicates that he died three years ago.
Think we’re making this stuff up? Guess you haven’t read the fine print in the mammoth $787-billion economic recovery bill signed by President Obama this week.
The spending portion of the package — not including billions in tax credits and other tax incentives — totals more than $500 billion. The blizzard of spending is divided into four major categories: infrastructure/transportation, education, health and energy.
Before we detail the goodies, let’s get the bad news out of the way: direct aid to the states to help plug their burgeoning state budget deficits was reduced to a minor subcategory totaled a paltry $8.8 billion.
If you think that is a large number, consider this: California currently is grappling with a $42-billion deficit. Perhaps the federal lawmakers assumed that the $44 billion they allocated in aid to local school districts and $86.6 billiion to defray state Medicaid costs will indirectly offset state budget deficits. We’ll see.
Here’s how the stimulus spending was allocated by Congress:
$44.3 billion — aid to local school districts
$25.2 billion – funding for special education and No Child Left Behind
$15.6 billion – increase maximum Pell Grants from $500 to $5,300
$2 billion – Head Start
$11 billion – construction of ”smart” electricity grid
$5 billion – weatherization of existing dwellings
$6.4 billion – cleanup of nuclear weapons production sites
$6 billion – loans for renewable energy projects
$6.3 billion – clean energy/energy efficiency grants to states
$4.5 billion – converting federal buildings to energy efficiency
$2 billion – development of electric car batteries
$86.6 billion – state Medicaid costs
$24.7 billion – subsidize 65% of COBRA medical coverage payments for unemployed.
$10 billion – NIH and other health-related research projects
$19 billion – create electronic database of all health records
$1 billion – prevention/wellness programs
$27.5 billion – highway and bridge construction/repair
$8.4 billion – mass transit
$8 billion – high-speed rail
$1.3 billion – AMTRAK
$4.6 billion – Army Corps of Engineers projects
$4 billion – public housing
$6 billion – clean water/drinking water projects
$7.2 billion – broadband for rural areas
$4.2 billion – upgrade Defense Department facilities
In addition to the above, the Economic Recovery bill provides $40 billion in extended unemployment and food stamp benefits.
Last, but not least, is a $14.2 billion allocation to fund a one-time $250 cash payment to everyone receiving Social Security checks.
Haven’t found the one-year supply of coffee and donuts for every American yet, but we’re still looking.