Stimulus: Republican Assault on Spending Questioned

Stimulus: Republican Assault on Spending Questioned

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Last year's big stimulus bill is under Republican attack again: GOP Sens. John McCain and Tom Coburn just released the latest in a series of reports on what they call wasteful or needless spending in that law. But since it came out this morning, the White House dismissed the brief, and news reports have found a couple of errors in it, along with some plausible explanations for what at first sounds like irresponsible spending.

The report cites 100 projects, from an analysis of exotic ants to replacing windows on a closed Forest Service visitors center, as examples of waste in the stimulus. Both the Los Angeles Times and CNN found errors in the report, however.

"I think there was an acknowledgment on their part, in pulling a couple of their projects out of their report, that weren't ultimately recovery projects," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters today. Asked if he thought the report was credible, he responded: "no."

A White House spokeswoman said that the administration would investigate waste but noted that there are more than 70,000 stimulus-funded projects under way. All the projects the senators have identified would make up less than half of one percent of that total.

Some of the Republicans' charges, such as a study of cocaine-using monkeys, have already become campaign fodder, but some have reasonable explanations. The cocaine study, a spokesman told CNN, "will have significant impact on public health in regards to cocaine addiction and the issue of relapse."

Meanwhile, the senators themselves conceded that the plan has had some job-creating effects, if only because of its sheer size--$862 billion as recently re-scored by the Congressional Budget Office. The package's estimated size will change as the money is spent and as states, businesses and individuals respond to incentives in it.

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