I Have the List of ‘Shovel Ready Projects’ Used to Create the Stimulus Bill. Interesting.?

Question by Charlton: I have the list of ‘Shovel Ready Projects’ used to create the Stimulus bill. Interesting.?
With the statement from Obama that there is no pork. Can you find any? How do they assess the number of jobs created. I see many here that would last maybe a week but have several jobs created.
If you get a job for a week out of one of these projects, is that one of the 3 million jobs created?

The guy that adored Obama and has worked for McDonald’s for the past 4 1/2 years got a one day job announcing a game for $ 25. Does that count as one of the jobs created?


Best answer:

Answer by solve
The following was copied from the FAQ at the website you gave. We don’t know which of these will be funded.

It is expected that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will be signed by the President on February 16. That legislation won’t list the projects to be funded. Instead, it will appropriate money for federal grant programs, such as the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) or Surface Transportation Program, which will then use the appropriated stimulus money to make grants to cities. In the case of CDBG, for example, the Department of Housing and Urban Development will be the agency that will decide (using a formula) which of the projects requested by the mayors will be funded.

That said, the funding Congress approves for these programs, and thus how much money cities will actually receive for their projects, may exceed or fall short of the mayors’ suggestions. This means that not every project requested by the mayors will be funded. And that is why it’s important for citizens to register their opinions on which projects they believe are critical and which are not. By the same token, it is also likely that many projects not yet proposed by localities (and thus not listed on this site) will receive funding via federal programs.

After searching the text of the bill, I was unable to find any applicable block grants except for the ones listed below. None of these had any specific projects listed.
These are the relevant grants over $ 1 Billion within Transportation and Housing and Urban Development. Most of these grants have to be allocated within 2 years.


These total up to $ 50.5B which is a small part of the total stimulus.
Tracking down these grants is very time consuming. It’s difficult to find anything that can be considered pork, but there’s lots of places to hide inside of $ 787B.

Answer by Josie
From the FAQ page:

Congress and the President are getting ready to spend billions of dollars to try to stimulate the economy. As a result, the U.S. Conference of Mayors has responded by releasing a list of “shovel-ready” projects in cities around the country that the mayors would like to see funded.

To me, this sounds suspiciously like the President and/or Congress asked for a list of projects, and the Conference of Mayors put one together. To check on this suspicion, I followed the link in the quotation above (the very source of the projects listed at the Stimulus Watch web site, unless I’m greatly mistaken), and got the 344 page file. On Page 2 of the file, I see:

January 17, 2009

That sounds impressively early. Until one looks up the data on the stimulus bill:

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009

This matches my memory of the discussion: Washington folks talked about wanting to fund a bunch of shovel-ready projects, so cities and states pulled together their wish lists as rapidly as they could.

As has been stated before, until the bill is signed into law, the cities and states have no clear idea what will, or will not, be funded. Yet they (and everyone else paying attention to the news) have repeatedly been told that the money is on a use-it or lose-it basis: If they can’t start work very soon after the bill passes, then they’ll lose whatever money their city/county/state might be entitled to.

Can local politicians rapidly pull together wish lists to spend someone else’s money on? Of course. Are there likely to be wastes of money in such a list? One would have to be naive to expect there wouldn’t. And yet, the only people who seem to take that list seriously as the definitive answer for where the money will go, are the people who are critical of the idea of economic stimulus to begin with.

Admittedly, acting on that assumption is a lot easier than wading through all 1,434 pages of the bill as passed by Congress. Making the project a teeny bit easier, it appears that the first 677 pages are nothing but text that was struck from the final version of the bill. I did a quick skim of the rest, and probably missed a whole lot. The general formula for the money seems well represented by this excerpt:


For the cost of loan guarantees and grants, as authorized by section 9003 of the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002* (7 U.S.C. 8103), $ 200,000,000, to remain available until September 30, 2010.

Notice the complete lack of mentioned projects. There’s a reason for this. Nowhere in the bill does it say what projects the money will be spent on. It specifies what kind of uses that money will go for, usually with reference to laws and programs that existed before this Congress was sworn in. (Admittedly, the more verbose sections are where a new program is started, or an old one is modified.) When you search for the word “project,” you find things like:

For an additional amount for ‘‘State and Local Law Enforcement Assistance’’, $ 90,000,000, to remain available until September 30, 2010, for competitive grants to provide assistance and equipment to local law enforcement along the Southern border and in High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas to combat criminal narcotics activity stemming from the Southern border, of which $ 10,000,000 shall be transferred to ‘‘Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Salaries and Expenses’’ for the ATF Project Gunrunner.

In short, what the Stimulus Watch web site is looking at are not a list of projects included in the stimulus bill. Some of them might eventually be funded under that bill; but the city requesting the money would have to find a section of the bill that provides money for that sort of thing, and then apply for the money. And the application would go through a bureaucracy that’s aware it’s under far more public attention than usual.

Frankly, this list reminds me of nothing so much as the letters addressed to “Santa, the North Pole” that the Post Office releases to the newspapers every December. Some are important, some are frivolous, and there’s no guarantee that any of those dreams will ever come true.

* Sponsor: Larry Combest (R-TX); co-sponsor Charles Stenholm (D-TX, one of the most Conservative Democrats in Congress at the time). I mention this just because I know someone will have questions, no matter what section I picked as my example.

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