Stimulus Checkup

Are the staffers in Sen. Tom Coburn and Sen. John McCain’s offices gunning for writing careers at “The Colbert Report?”

A scathing report titled “Stimulus Checkup,” released under the two senators’ names and highlighting 100 programs they claim are wasting billions of federal dollars, is some of the funniest stuff since Tina Fey dressed up as Sarah Palin on “Saturday Night Live.”

It’s common for governments to run deficits during bad economic times. Classic economic theorists say it’s vital for governments to spend during recessions (because private businesses can’t, and if every wallet in the land snapped closed, we’d all be in deep trouble), and the U.S. economy is indeed picking up steam, which could have something to do with the $787 billion stimulus dollars beginning to circulate.

“Some of the close to seven billion dollars in projects in Stimulus Checkup create few jobs; benefit private interests over the public good; or make improvements where they are not necessary,” the report says. “Some send money to companies facing fraud charges. Others take millions of dollars to do work local officials and experts admit are not needed or will not help. Stimulus money has been, or will be, spent on dinner cruises, golf courses, puppet shows and stimulus road signs. Many Americans will question whether investing $787 billion in these projects are the highest national priorities.”



  • Study On Why Young Men Do Not Like Condoms ($221,355)
    Indiana University professors received $221,355 in economic stimulus funds to study why young men do not like to wear condoms. The research will “advance our understanding of…the role of cognitive and affective processes and condom application skills in explaining problems with condom use in young, heterosexual adult men,” and to create “education strategies tailored to the needs of individuals who have trouble using condoms effectively.”

  • Study on “Hookup” Behavior of Female College Coeds ($219,000)
    The National Institute of Health (NIH) is using stimulus funds to pay for a year-long $219,000 study to follow female college students for a year to determine whether young women are more likely to “hookup” – the college equivalent of casual sex – after drinking alcohol. Researchers will recruit 500 female students prior to their first year of college and contact them monthly over the course of a year to document sexual hookups, noting when there is alcohol involved. It is part of the $7.4 billion the NIH received in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to support “scientific research.”

  • Buffalo Residents Paid to Keep Daily Journal of Malt Liquor and Marijuana Use ($389,357)
    Researchers at the State University of New York at Buffalo will receive nearly $390,000 to study young adults who drink malt liquor and smoke marijuana. Malt liquor consumption is an understudied topic, according to the researchers‘ application, making it an obvious choice for economic stimulus funding. The study will reportedly pay 100 Buffalo-area residents will be paid $45 a day for three weeks by taxpayers to record their daily malt liquor drinking and marijuana smoking usage through an automated phone hotline.  The Stimulus money also will pay the salaries of 3 full-time employees and part of the lead researcher’s salary to conduct the study over the next two years.

  • Methamphetamines and the Female Rat Sex Drive . . . ($30,000)
    Researchers will spend nearly $30,000 to determine whether methamphetamine gives female rats an overpowering desire to have sex. Human meth users report the drug creates “an insatiable need and urgency for sex,” notes the University of Maryland researchers, and female meth users “are more likely to engage in risky sexual behaviors” than women who use other drugs.


  • Bobber the Water Safety Dog Costumes ($21,116)
    Promoting water safety was never much fun until the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers spent more than $21,000 on mascot costumes to help kids understand the importance of wearing life vests. Bobber the Safety Dog costumes, cost approximately $2,000 each, but for that price the manufacturer promises: -Everyone that meets Bobber will find him to be a fun lovable character.

  • California Gets Money to Upgrade Computer System . . . Twice ($60 million)
    The State of California has received $59.9 million in federal stimulus funds to modernize its decades-old unemployment benefits system. This is the second time the state has received money for the same modernization program. In 2002, the state had received $66 million in federal funds to upgrade its unemployment insurance system.

$25 thousand for a puppet show?

$2 million to build a replica railroad as a tourist attraction in Carson City, Nev?

$1 million in funds to combat terrorism for a Chicago dinner cruise company?


Spending like this may not seem like a big deal in Washington, for most Americans it is a lot of money,” the report says. “Washington, D.C. politicians blithely spend billions of dollars a week, but every dollar wasted is also a dollar borrowed-and a dollar to be paid back with interest in the future.”