Federal spending waste in Houston?

November 15, 2012 5:43:38 PM PST
Lawmakers are supposed to look for ways to cut spending to avoid the fiscal cliff. But there's some spending happening right in front of your eyes at a federal building here in Houston.

This is the federal building we're talking about -- on the south side of downtown, right along I-45. It hit me on the way to work. Every morning I pass that building. Thousands of you do too. It's the Houston federal building -- the place for passports and tax returns and Congressional offices.

And it struck me this week that at the same the president and Congressional leaders are playing chicken on the razor-thin edge of the fiscal cliff, the feds are doing an awful lot of work on their own office building.

"I asked them about it. They said it's just a facelift," said Larry Romero.

This is no nip and tuck. All new windows and air conditioning; sustainable energy built in to save money down the road. But it's not cheap.

It's $86 million of your tax dollars.

"That's a lot of money," said Raymond Camacho.

All part of the stimulus -- that nearly 4-year-old program designed to get Americans back to work -- in 2009.

"Eighty million is a lot of money. It could've been spent a whole lot better some other place." said Rep. Ted Poe.

Houston-area Congressman Ted Poe wishes the money wasn't being spent here. He voted against the stimulus in 2009, and despite the fact many of the contracts went to Houston-area companies, continues to say it didn't stimulate the economy and facing the fiscal cliff, would love the money back.

"Congress and the administration need to talk about the obvious," said Rep. Poe. "This is another example of that. It was a make-work project."

But let's put the spending in some context. even if you could get the money back, $86 million in the scheme of the cuts coming in January are really very little. Congress has to cut $55 billion out of next year's non-defense budget to comply with the fiscal cliff. That's 640 projects this size.


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