(CNSNews.com) – The $825 billion government stimulus package unveiled by congressional Democrats on Friday contains billions of dollars in government spending supposedly designed to create jobs and stimulate the economy.
However, the package also contains a host of items congressional leaders rarely mention, including hundreds of millions of dollars for cable TV boxes, new windows in government housing, and day care, among numerous other economic stimulus programs.
Drafted by Rep. David Obey (D-Wis.), chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, the stimulus proposal – the “American Recovery and Reinvestment Bill” – claims that without the massive federal spending, America will face “economic chaos.”
“Without this package, we are warned that unemployment could explode to near 12 percent,” Obey said in a statement accompanying the bill’s release. “With passage of this package, we will face a large deficit for years to come. Without it, those deficits would be devastating and we face the risk of economic chaos.
“Tough choices have been made in this legislation and fiscal discipline will demand more tough choices in years to come,” the statement concludes.
The bill promises $275 billion in tax cuts and $550 billion in what it describes as thoughtful, targeted investments.
“This package is the crucial first step in a concerted effort to create and save 3 to 4 million jobs, jumpstart our economy, and begin the process of transforming it for the 21st century with $275 billion in economic recovery tax cuts and $550 billion in thoughtful and carefully targeted priority investments,” the statement reads.
Among those “priority investments” are:
-- $650 million to help Americans upgrade to digital cable after the official transition to digital television on Feb. 17, 2009.
-- $44 million to repair and improve the headquarters of the Department of Agriculture in Washington, D.C.
-- $276 million to upgrade and modernize information technology at the State Department.
-- $3.1 billion to fund “infrastructure projects” on federal land, including $1.8 billion for the National Park Service, $650 million for the U.S. Forest Service, and $300 million for the National Fish Hatcheries.
-- $600 million for NASA, including $400 million for projects such as “satellite sensors that measure solar radiation critical to understanding climate change.”
-- $1.9 billion for the Department of Energy for “basic research into the physical sciences,” including nuclear physics and fusion energy.
-- $209 million for maintenance work at the federal Agricultural Research Service’s research facilities across the country.
-- $400 million in repairs to various “national treasures,” including $200 million for revitalizing the National Mall, $150 for maintenance at the Smithsonian Institution, and $50 million to make up for a lack of philanthropic support for the arts.
-- $850 million for “wildland fire management,” including $550 million to states for “volunteer fire assistance,” “city forest enhancements” and “wood to energy” projects.
-- $400 million for “habitat restoration” projects to be doled out by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration.
-- $2.7 billion for “rural water and waste disposal” grant programs for providing loans for digging wells or extending municipal water services in rural areas.
-- $2 billion to provide day care services to 300,000 additional low-income children, ostensibly while their parents are at work.
-- $1.2 billion to create an estimated 1 million summer jobs for young people.
-- $2.5 billion to upgrade government-owned housing projects with new insulation, windows, and furnaces.
-- $6.2 billion to weatherize the homes of low-income people to make them more energy efficient.
-- $2.4 billion for projects demonstrating carbon-capture technology.
-- $600 million to “prepare our country for universal healthcare” by training more doctors, dentists, and nurses.
-- $1.5 billion to build new “Community Health Centers.”
-- $20 billion to provide “nutrition assistance” for middle-income families and to lift restrictions on how long people can receive food stamps.
-- An undisclosed amount to “provide 100 percent federal funding through 2010 for optional State Medicaid coverage of individuals (and their dependents) who are receiving unemployment benefits or have exhausted those benefits.”