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Archive for October 21st, 2011

Wow.

Even by the low standards of government, here are a couple of remarkable stories about government waste from Obama’s failed stimulus scheme.

Let’s start with an example of crony capitalism. The federal government decided to subsidize the wealthy shareholders of company working on an electric car. That’s not too surprising. After all, politicians have been bilking taxpayers for the benefit of well-connected campaign contributors for centuries.

But you would think the Obama White House would at least be smart enough to give money to companies that create jobs in America (such jobs, of course, are offset by jobs destroyed in the private sector). But, as ABC News reports, that was not the case.

With the approval of the Obama administration, an electric car company that received a $529 million federal government loan guarantee is assembling its first line of cars in Finland, saying it could not find a facility in the United States capable of doing the work. Vice President Joseph Biden heralded the Energy Department’s $529 million loan to the start-up electric car company called Fisker as a bright new path to thousands of American manufacturing jobs. But two years after the loan was announced, the job of assembling the flashy electric Fisker Karma sports car has been outsourced to Finland. …The loan to Fisker is part of a $1 billion bet the Energy Department has made in two politically connected California-based electric carmakers producing sporty — and pricey — cutting-edge autos. Fisker Automotive, backed by a powerhouse venture capital firm whose partners include former Vice President Al Gore, predicts it will eventually be churning out tens of thousands of electric sports sedans at the shuttered GM factory it bought in Delaware. And Tesla Motors, whose prime backers include PayPal mogul Elon Musk and Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin.

Amazing.

Let’s now travel to Oregon, where taxpayers were coerced into subsidizing more jobs for foreigners. Here are the sordid details from the DC Examiner.

A Labor Department Inspector General report released this week found that $7,140,782 in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds went to four Oregon forestry services firms who hired no U.S. workers. From the report:

Only two Oregonians were listed on the employer recruitment reports, indicating that workers in Oregon were likely unaware these job opportunities were available. In fact, although 146 U.S. workers were contacted by the three employers regarding possible employment, none were hired. Instead, 254 foreign workers were brought into the country for these jobs.

…Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., who asked the OIG to investigate the program in September 2010, was also displeased: “The goal of the stimulus bill was to put Americans back to work, not foreign nationals. … Oregonians have been logging for over a century, our workforce is one of the best in the world, and these contracts should have been awarded to companies that hire Oregon loggers.”

You’d almost think, after reading stories like this, that government was incompetent at being incompetent. And you’d be right.

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I must not be very bright. Even after decades of experience in Washington, I still have this naive belief that bureaucrats and politicians will occasionally do the right thing – even if for no other reason other than to cover their rear ends after being caught doing something flagrantly wasteful and reprehensible.

So when Senator Coburn of Oklahoma put pressure on the Social Security Administration for giving disability payments to a 30-year old man whose only “disability” is that he wants to live life as a baby, I thought the bureaucrats would feel compelled to stop subsidizing this oddball moocher.

I was wrong.

I should have known better. After all, why would bureaucrats care about saving taxpayer money? Here’s a brief blurb from the depressing story in the Washington Times.

The California man who lives part of his life as an “adult baby” and collects Social Security disability payments says the federal agency has cleared him of wrongdoing and will continue sending checks. Stanley Thornton Jr. now wants an apology from Sen. Tom Coburn, the Oklahoma Republican who called for the benefit review… “We recently reviewed the evidence in your Social Security disability claim and find that your disability is continuing,” the agency said in an August letter that Mr. Thornton posted on the website he maintains to document his adult baby lifestyle.

Stories like this reinforce my deeply held belief that it would be crazy to let the bureaucrats and politicians in Washington get even one penny of additional tax revenue.

We have a corrupt and dysfunctional political class in America, and the last thing we should do is encourage their venal actions by giving them more money to waste.

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