Taxpayer Dollars Being Spent Unwisely on Stimulus Projects
This week, Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Senator John McCain (R-AZ) released an oversight report to highlight questionable stimulus projects that are wasteful, mismanaged and have been unsuccessful in creating jobs. The report was the third in a series of reports to highlight government spending that has failed to sustain economic growth. Examples of wasteful spending include: $1.9 million for international ant research, $363,760 to help the National Institute of Health promote the positive impacts of the stimulus projects and $62 million for a tunnel to nowhere in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania that even Governor Ed Rendell called "a tragic mistake."
Since the $862 billion dollar stimulus package passed eighteen months ago, millions of jobs have been lost and the unemployment rate has continued to rise. Americans are struggling and Washington's solution of spending billions of dollars on stimulus programs has failed miserably. I opposed this wasteful spending and will continue to oppose reckless government spending. History shows that sustainable economic growth starts with the private sector. Now is the time for Congress to pass legislation that creates an environment where small businesses can grow and create jobs.
Conservation Reserve Program General Sign-Up Taking Place Now
A general sign-up period is currently being held for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) through August 27, 2010. During the August sign-up period, land owners have the opportunity to offer land not currently enrolled in CRP and re-enroll CRP contracts set to expire on September 30, 2010. During House Agriculture Committee hearings over the past few months, I pressed USDA officials to announce a general sign-up period because a substantial amount of CRP acres are set to expire on September 30, 2010, and farmers in certain regions of Kansas became eligible to destroy grass cover on expiring acres beginning on July 1, 2010. Notice of the CRP general sign-up came last week. While it would have been more helpful a month ago, I am glad that Kansas farmers can now make important management decisions about their CRP acres. For more information about CRP and other FSA programs, please visit your county FSA office or www.fsa.usda.gov.
New Social Security Hearing Office Opens in Topeka
In 2007, the American Association of People with Disabilities released a report showing that Kansas had the greatest backlog of citizens waiting to receive a decision from the Social Security Administration (SSA) on the status of their disability benefits. At the time the report was released, Kansans filing for an appeal with the Kansas City SSA office had to wait an average of 628 days for a hearing. Such long wait times are unacceptable. Shortly after learning about this backlog in 2007, I met with SSA Commissioner Michael Astrue to encourage him to reduce wait times for Kansans. Since then, the SSA has brought two additional judges to our state to hear cases and has made use of video conference technology to allow judges in other states to hear the cases of Kansans.
On Tuesday, the SSA took another important step to further alleviating the backlog by opening a new hearing office in Topeka. Five judges will hear cases in this office, further reducing the backlog and providing Kansans with more timely decisions on their disability claims. The opening of the office in Topeka also creates more than two dozen new jobs for the community. I am pleased that the SSA continues to make progress in reducing wait times.
Supporting Community Schools in Kansas
This weekend, I joined local residents at the 64th annual Tipton picnic and auction, sponsored by St. Boniface parish and the Tipton community. This community event brings together residents to raise funds for Tipton Catholic High School. On Saturday evening, I enjoyed eating dinner with members of the community and discussing ongoing efforts to maintain their community's schools. Congratulations to all the Tipton alumni, especially those from the class of 1925, who joined together on Friday evening to support their alma mater. Thanks to all the volunteers who worked hard to put together this year's picnic.