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Federal Jobs Training Program – “Waste, Mismanagement, and Even Corruption”

Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) has put out yet another excellent report on waste, fraud and abuse in federal job training programs.  The report titled “Help Wanted” describes specific instances of “waste, mismanagement, and even corruption.”  This report proves, in addition to other reports by Senator Coburn, that the government is a poor allocator of resources.

The Coburn report indicates that these federal jobs training programs are wasting your tax dollars.

Over the past several years, Congress has approved hundreds of billions of dollars to support a host of new government programs intended to stimulate the economy, but as the statistics demonstrate, this approach has failed to put enough Americans back to work.

It is unlikely that our President will lift a finger to solve this problem, because it does not fit into his philosophy that the government is the best allocator of resources.  The President told ABC News on his inauguration day in 2009 that “government is going to work, we’re going to make it work.”  Well that never happened, because it is impossible to make government provide effective job training programs.

Senator Coburn provided examples of waste in the report including:

  • $100,000 to Admitted Thief:  A West Virginia grant for $100,000 went to Martin Bowling.  He was put up for another federal job training grant worth $1 million. “In 2008, at 28 years of age, there was already ample evidence to suggest Bowling was high risk. He had been arrested over a dozen times, for charges including driving under the influence and driving with a suspended license.”  What kind of a message does this send to law abiding citizens who need job training.
  • Job Training at Hooters: A Florida agency tasked with helping people find jobs, the Tampa Bay WorkForce Alliance, used your tax dollars for “lunch at Hooters, valet parking for lunch at the Cheesecake Factory (topped with $9 dollar slices of cheesecake), $20 delivery fees for cupcakes, $443.99 on flowers, 300 koozie drink holders and more.”  The most bizarre expense that was flagged by federal officials was “$8,138 for a 2008 end of the year party at the Sheraton Riverwalk Hotel, complete with DJ services.”  They may have stimulated the job market for DJs, yet that expense is a clear waste of money when Florida is experiencing higher than average unemployment numbers. 
  • Company Used Funds to Expose Youth to Asbestos:  A California company used federal funds and “knowingly exposing high school students to the cancer-causing agent asbestos under the guise of involving the students in work experience and job training programs.”  A California housing authority set up an entity called “Firm Build.”  They were given $500,000 in 2001 to help the housing authority to modernize its facilities.  According to the report, “students allegedly removed asbestos floor tiles and insulation from pipes inside the old building. Even worse, according to investigators, the students demolished tiles with hammers and other tools, creating an airborne cloud of asbestos fibers they may have inhaled. Students reported the dust was so thick inside the building, they sometimes had to leave for fresh air, investigators said. The students, who are now adults, were only supplied with cotton masks, hard hats and goggles – equipment which fell far short of the protective suits needed to properly remove asbestos.”  Asbestos is linked to lung cancer and Mesothelioma.

These are merely three of many examples of waste in the program and indicate that the federal government is not doing a good job of policing.  Federal job training programs may be a great program to eliminate in the first round of cuts this year during the debate on the Continuing Resolution.  This program is wasting your money on a daily basis and it needs to stop.

Senator Coburn said of his report:

Sadly, thousands of Americans may be putting their hope in job training programs that have no measurable benefit and, in many cases, are being defrauded.  With a looming fiscal crisis on the horizon, and unemployment still unacceptably high, it is time for Washington to re-think how we approach these programs,” Dr. Coburn said.  “Too often, job training programs have been designed to help politicians keep their jobs rather than helping the unemployed find jobs.  We create new programs with great fanfare then never bother to measure their effectiveness.  We simply cannot keep doing things as they have always been done.  Unemployed Americans don’t need just need our good intentions.  They need us to conduct careful oversight and ask hard questions of programs designed to help people in very difficult transitions.

This is a broken promise by the Obama Administration, and the federal government in general.  The promise of job training implies that the federal government will help the unemployed to find a job.  With unemployment at 9% or higher for 21 months, it is clear that this program is a waste of money.  Not only is it a program that serves no useful purpose, it is a magnet for fraud.

Coburn concludes in his report the following:

There is no question a highly skilled workforce is a key ingredient to getting the economy back on track and to being competitive in a global economy. But instead of creating more federal job training programs or increasing spending on the 47 that currently exist, Washington should consider a new approach to aiding those in need. Washington can encourage an economic environment that attracts and retains investment and productivity in the United States. This can be accomplished in part by reducing the national debt, opening foreign markets to U.S. goods and services, reducing unnecessary regulatory burdens on small businesses and employers, and ensuring stable and predictable government policies so employers can make short- and long-term investment and management decisions.

President Obama’s statement that “government is going to work, we’re going to make it work” have proven to be yet another in a long line of Obama promises broken.  It is no wonder why 51% of the American people believe that the President can’t get re-elected to a second term in 2012.  The President has broken too many promises to the American people and they just don’t trust his empty pledges anymore.

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