Last week, the Treasury Department inspector general found that the tax police have failed to prevent fraud in the stimulus law’s energy tax credit program. Some $6 billion in stimulus energy credits for homeowners have been claimed — but the inspector general’s audit found that 30 percent of credit-claimers had no record of homeownership. The recipients included prisoners and minors. “I am troubled by the IRS’s continued failure to develop appropriate verification methods for distributing Recovery Act credits,” the Treasury Inspector watchdog said. Moreover, when the IRS wasn’t falling down on its job policing outside fraud, its own workers were committing their own stimulus fraud — by cheating the system and claiming a first-time homebuyer tax credit included in the 2008 and 2009 economic stimulus packages. At least 128 IRS employees claimed the credit, according to a recent Treasury Department audit, yet weren’t first-time buyers or violated other basic eligibility criteria.
Moreover, the stimulus package has also “redistributed wealth to prison inmates, flaky researchers, social justice boondoggles, infrastructure to nowhere, foreign companies, dead people and ghost congressional districts — not to mention $20 million in chump change to pay for campaign-style stimulus-hyping road signs across the country emblazoned with the shovel-ready logo.”
Only a small fraction of the stimulus package went to infrastructure spending, and maintenance-of-effort provisions elsewhere in the stimulus package required states to maintain or increase welfare spending, resulting in cash-strapped states cutting back their own spending on useful things like transportation. As a result, Investor’s Business Daily noted, economists “found that despite the influx of all that federal money, highway construction jobs actually plunged by nearly 70,000 between 2008 and 2010.”
The $800 billion stimulus package was purged of most investments in roads and bridges, and filled instead with welfare and social spending, out of political correctness, after feminist leaders complained that building and repairing roads and bridges would put unemployed blue-collar men to work, rather than women. “A recent Associated Press story reports: ‘Stimulus Funds Go to Social Programs Over ‘Shovel-ready’ Projects.’ A team of six AP reporters who have been tracking the funds find that the $300 billion sent to the states is being used mainly for health care, education, unemployment benefits, food stamps, and other social services.” Or, as another AP report put it, “Stimulus Aid Favors Welfare, Not Work, Programs.” Two economics professors recently estimated that the stimulus had actually wiped out 550,000 jobs.
The stimulus package also repealed welfare reform, as Slate’s Mickey Kaus and the Heritage Foundation have noted. Obama ran campaign ads claiming to support welfare reform, even though he had actually fought against meaningful welfare reform as an Illinois legislator. This claim was as dishonest as his claim that he would enact a “net spending cut” (which he flouted as soon as he took office) and that America would undergo an “irreversible decline” if the stimulus package wasn’t enacted (when even the CBO admitted that the stimulus will actually shrink the economy over the long run).