Federal Spending & Budget Issues

A $5 billion federal weatherization program intended to save energy and create jobs has done little of either, says the Los Angeles Times. 

According to a new report on the one-year anniversary of President Obama’s American Reinvestment and Recovery Act: 

  • The $5-billion program is so riddled with drafts that so far it’s weatherized only about 9,000 homes.
  • Based on the initial Obama-Biden program promise that it would create 87,000 new jobs its first year, that would be about 10 jobs for each home weatherized so far.
  • ABC News reports that the General Accountability Office will declare this week that the Energy Department has fallen woefully behind — about 98.5 percent behind — the 593,000 homes it initially predicted would be weatherized in the Recovery Act’s very first year. 

You’ll never guess what the federal government blames for the lack of significant progress: Red tape.  It seems that the Pelosi-Reid stimulus plan that was so quickly cobbled together and was supposed to immediately pump so much money into the sagging economy last year included an 80-year-old legal provision requiring all federally funded projects to pay a prevailing wage to workers. 

But what’s a prevailing wage for weatherization, you ask?  Who knows?  So the Energy Department asked the Labor Department, which set out to calculate what a prevailing weatherization wage is in every single one of the more than 3,000 counties across these United States. 

The Energy folks did tell ABC they’ve so far spent $522 million Recovery Act dollars on the program.  This comes to about $57,362 for each home fixed up so far, says the L.A. Times. 

Source: Andrew Malcolm, “Obama’s federal government can weatherize your home for only $57,362 each,” Los Angeles Times, February 18, 2010. 

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