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Senators Coburn and McCain Turn Elephant Gun on Ants

It’s not a 9.5 percent unemployment rate that’s giving Americans the “summertime blues.” No, according to a new report with that title by Senator Tom Coburn, M.D., and Senator John McCain that attacks last year’s stimulus program, it’s that the State Department paid $18,000 too much for flat screen TVs and the American Museum of Ceramic Art in California received a $50,000 grant.

Never mind that these and 98 other projects totaling just $1.7 billion  that they identify as wasting the taxpayers’ money account for just 0.2 percent of the $862 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009.  And never mind that six projects account for almost 80 percent of that $1.7 billion, so that the senators really scraped the bottom of the barrel to come up with their list.  The real outrage about this report is how it feeds public skepticism about the Recovery Act and diverts attention from the real story, which is that ARRA played a major role in arresting the decline in economic activity and job losses in the worst recession since the 1930s.

If Senators Coburn and McCain are as concerned as they say about the budget deficit, maybe they should aim at the right targets.