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Taxpayer Watchdogs Offer List of "Ax-Ready" Programs as Alternative to Mayors' Pork Projects

by Pete Sepp / /

(Alexandria, VA) -- The U.S. Conference of Mayors has sent Congress a $96.6 billion wish list of "shovel-ready" projects to allegedly create jobs and improve the nation's infrastructure, but the National Taxpayers Union (NTU) and the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW) are offering a different solution to stimulate the economy: an updated list of "ax-ready" programs and legislation that would reduce wasteful spending. Last October, NTU and CCAGW sent a letter to then-Presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama outlining ways to reduce federal outlays.

"Before Election Day, NTU and CCAGW answered the Presidential hopefuls' calls for going through the budget 'line by line' to root out waste and inefficiency," NTU President Duane Parde said. "Now, we're highlighting more 'ready-to-cut' areas of the federal government for Congress to act on instead of stuffing states full of pork." CCAGW President Tom Schatz added, "Congress must cut wasteful spending now, at the same time the stimulus package is being considered. Promising to address the mounting fiscal burden on taxpayers at a later date means that nothing will ever happen."

Among the mayors' " 'Ready to Go' Jobs and Infrastructure Projects" are well over $1 billion in projects involving sidewalks; $1 million for annual sewer rehabilitation in Casper, WY; $6.1 million for corporate hangars, parking lots, and a business apron at the Fayetteville, AR airport; 28 projects with the term "stadium" in them; and 117 projects mentioning landscaping and/or beautification efforts. The taxpayers should be most teed off at the 20 golf courses included in the list.

Some alternatives to the mayors' list could be found through NTU's research arm, the National Taxpayers Union Foundation (NTUF), which through its BillTally program has compiled a list of legislation that would reduce federal spending. NTUF also maintains a roster of 2,150 spending-cut bills introduced in the last nine Congresses that totaled over $9.5 trillion, only 69 of which were eventually signed into law (for a savings of $89.6 billion). Finally, NTU reviews data from the Bush Administration's Program Assessment Rating Tool, which found nearly 220 programs in 2007 that were ineffective or did not demonstrate results.

CCAGW's research arm, Citizens Against Government Waste, has just issued the "2009 Prime Cuts," which has 700 cut recommendations totaling $1.9 trillion over five years. It includes the elimination of duplicative and inefficient programs such as the Market Access Program, which costs $231 million over five years to help large and profitable American companies advertise abroad.

"The mayors have billed their projects as 'shovel-ready,' but the only shoveling going on would be out of taxpayers' pockets," Parde concluded. Schatz added, "The best way to stimulate the economy and create jobs is to cut wasteful spending and keep money in the private sector."

NTU is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization founded in 1969 to work for lower taxes, smaller government, and economic freedom at all levels. CCAGW is a nonpartisan, nonprofit lobbying organization dedicated to eliminating waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement in government. Note: For more information, visit www.ntu.org or www.ccagw.org.

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