U.S. Conference of Mayors Drafts $73.2 Billion Wish List

This is a rush transcript from "America's News HQ," December 19, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

HEATHER NAUERT, HOST: Had enough of those government bailout and spending? Well, get ready, because there is a whole lot more to come. President-elect Obama, Congress expected to just sign off on $850 billion stimulus package as soon as President-elect Obama takes office.

Well, in anticipation of that, the Congress[sic] of Mayors released a wish list of over 11,000 new projects that are expected to total more than $73 billion. One government spending watchdog group broke down this request and highlighted some of the more outrageous spending projects that we may see under an Obama administration.

Citizens Against Government Waste President Tom Schatz joins me now. Hi there, Tom.

Video: Watch Heather Nauert's interview

OK. So we've heard a lot about what they call shovel-ready projects. These are projects that are virtually ready to begin right now. And the theory is that they would help put Americans back to work and help our economy get back on track again. So tell us a little bit about some of these projects that the mayors across the country are asking Barack Obama and Congress to put in that big old stimulus package.

TOM SCHATZ, PRESIDENT, CITIZENS AGAINST GOVERNMENT WASTE: $73 billion over two years, and they are local projects, nothing to do with really recreating long-term jobs. There is $780 million for museums, $110 million for golf courses, $87 million for bike paths, and $30 million for tennis courts, including one in Santa Barbara, where they have dozens of facilities for people to go play tennis. Now, this is ridiculous.

NAUERT: Yes, they have lots of tennis courts there in southern California. You know, I thought that this stimulus package was supposed to be about infrastructure and supposed to be creating lots of jobs. So how does a catwalk at a Los Angeles County convention center — you know, catwalk, like a model walks down — for $1 million. How does that get put into something like this or $350,000 for an Albuquerque, New Mexico fitness center? How is that infrastructure?

SCHATZ: It looks like they have their Christmas list out there. Santa Claus could not even provide all the money and all of the presents that they're looking for. But this is the taxpayers' money that they're going to be looking at and its $850 billion stimulus. It's going to be the biggest pile of pork we have ever seen, unless taxpayers protest this ridiculous fund.

There is $6 million to heat a swimming pool in Maui, where the average temperature is 75 degrees throughout the year.

NAUERT: Yes. And $1.5 million in order to reduce prostitution in Ohio. Barack Obama has said, quote — and I am looking at a transcript from a recent interview he did, "The days of pork coming out of Congress, as a strategy, those days are over."

So when Barack Obama gets this wish list from the mayors, is he going to say, "Let's cut this out of here, because the days of pork — well, those are over"?

SCHATZ: It's a big test. The President-elect has said, as a total number, he wants $7 billion in pork for the upcoming fiscal year. And here, you've got $73 billion over two years, 10 times that amount. So he does have to put his foot down right away and say no to this list and anything else that is not a major infrastructure project for a big stimulus to create jobs. And none of these qualifies as far as we can tell.

NAUERT: Hey, Tom, just give us a list of a couple more that would be outrageous to some folks out there.

SCHATZ: When you have money going to a neighborhood in Philadelphia to restore one of the community projects - you've got this $1.5 million for reducing prostitution in Dayton, which is not quite clear how that's going to work, which jobs are in effect. But it is all over the place when you have this kind of money going around and everybody asking for anything that they want. And it opens the door for a lot more pork if they let this go through.

NAUERT: All right. Tom Schatz for Citizens Against Government Waste, thank you so much.

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