Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., a tea party stalwart dedicated to reducing the size of the government, has set his sights on the Economic Development Administration.
The EDA was founded in 1965 to help promote economic competitiveness and create jobs, but DeMint says it wastes money with the promotion of “pet projects.”
“A review of the EDA's grants makes clear that, just like the stimulus, this program too often has used federal dollars to fund pet projects that have little relation to the national interest,” DeMint writes in an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal.
DeMint cites examples that he believes are akin to “bridges to nowhere and teapot museums.” The EDA, he writes, is responsible for projects like building a $2 million wine tasting room and gift shop in Washington state, and spending $1.5 million to promote tourism in the Northern Mariana Islands.
But it’s not just frivolous programs that make the EDA wasteful, he says. The EDA’s efforts also duplicate existing federal programs, like the $49 million that went to support flooded regions of Rhode Island, Nebraska, Tennessee, and Kentucky, a job that normally would go to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
“Mr. Obama's deficit commission cited these same examples of duplication and waste as reasons to eliminate the EDA completely—something Congress should immediately do,” he writes. “But Democrats and, sadly, some Republicans, want to give the EDA a raise.”