Stimulus Projects that Created No Jobs


A couple of Republican senators put out a report today spelling out how they say a lot of the money taxpayers shelled out for the stimulus package was wasted. CBS News investigative correspondent Sharyl Attkisson Follows the Money.

It may be called the Recovery Act, but to Pastor Greg Sheets - it's the law of unintended consequences.

A well-meaning stimulus project to improve the road in front of his Newark, Ohio home has led the city to take part of his yard through eminent domain. Sheets got a restraining order when workers got too close to his house. The mess is now in its fourth month.

"My grandmother owned this house when I was a child," Sheets said. "There's not much left here to keep in the family."

In the state of Washington, another stimulus project may be hurting those it was designed to help. Construction began one year ago today in front of the Archery Bistro Restaurant. The owner says it's shut off business like a fly in a bowl of soup. He's had to stop serving lunch, close two days a week and, ironically, lay off 12 workers.

Read the Full Coburn/McCain Stimulus Report

A new report from Republican senators Tom Coburn and John McCain says too much of the $862 billion in stimulus money is being spent with dubious results: $700,000 for a researcher to study improvised music. For a project on interactive dance, 44 percent of the money goes to "overhead."

The $1.9 million spent to photograph ants in foreign countries has created two jobs created so far. That's better than other ant research stimulus projects: $451,000 has created one job, $276,000 spent on another created six one-hundredths of a job, and the $800,000 spent on a different one created no jobs.

The $144,000 spent to study the behavior of monkeys on cocaine created four-tenths of a job.

To study why monkeys respond to unfairness cost $677,000 - and has created no jobs yet - except maybe for the monkeys.

Still, Obama Administration economists say all the projects have valid goals, and the Recovery Act has put three million people back to work.

Jared Bernstein, chief economic adviser to Vice President Biden said, "If you look at the impact of the Recovery Act, including many of the projects that they're critiquing, these are projects that are creating jobs today, getting Americans back to work."

"I think sometimes decisions are made far away, whether it be in Washington, D.C. and they do not understand how it impacts people in everyday America," Pastor Sheets said.

He's resigned to giving up the home in his family for three generations - but he wonders who would buy it now.

Read the White House Statement Below

Liz Oxhorn, WH Spokesperson for the Recovery Act:

"Senators McCain and Coburn have released error-laden Recovery Act reports in the past and we have no reason to expect any different with this one.

It's no surprise that we're seeing this just as leading economists, including a former advisor to Senator McCain, have released new research showing the Recovery Act is already responsible for nearly 3 millions of jobs and lowering unemployment by 1.5 percent.

We made clear from the start that we would subject every dollar of Recovery Act spending to the highest standards, and we've already proactively spotted and killed hundreds of dubious Recovery Act projects.

We'll look into each of their claims and take action if any have merit, but with more than 70,000 Recovery Act projects underway, any misguided project is just a small fraction of tens of thousands coast to coast that are rebuilding America and putting people to work. For hard-hit middle class families, this isn't about partisan 'reports' or a single project - it's about a choice between returning to the failed policies of the past or building on solutions like the Recovery Act that are moving America forward."

Watch Sharyl Attkisson's Report Below

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    Sharyl Attkisson is a CBS News investigative correspondent based in Washington.