Photo by John&Julie C on Flickr.

Senators Ben Nelson (D-NE) and Susan Collins (R-ME) are leading a small group of centrist Senators which, reportedly, is trying to cut the stimulus by about $100 billion. Supposedly, they feel the stimulus is too large. But according to a memo obtained by The Plum Line, they’re also adding in some items as well.

According to the memo, they hope to cut $3.4 billion from public transit, but at the same time, are adding in more money for “additional transportation funding.” Presumably, if they’re cutting transit, that additional funding would go to roads. (It might be airports, I suppose, but I doubt it.)

They’re also cutting such items as Head Start, food stamps, child nutrition, firefighters, COPS hiring, NASA, and the CDC, while adding funding for defense operations and procurement.

The Senators reportedly in the room are Ben Nelson (D-NE), Mark Begich (D-AK), Tom Carper (D-DE), John Tester (D-MT), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Evan Bayh (D-IN), Jim Webb (D-VA), Mark Warner (D-VA), Michael Bennett (D-CO), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Mark Udall (D-CO), Joe Lieberman (I-CT), Susan Collins (R-ME), Arlen Specter (R-PA), Mel Martinez (R-FL), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and George Voinovich (R-OH). We don’t know if all of them support these cuts or not (Carper is a big rail advocate, for example).

This group seemed to be trying to take the mantle of the “responsible” people limiting the stimulus’ excess. Of course, many economists think the stimulus is, if anything, not large enough. If it is to shrink, we should cut those items that won’t spend the money right away. Those of you in defense can correct me if I’m wrong, but any new defense spending would end up going to projects pretty far down the road. Meanwhile, giving poor families food stamps and hiring more police can be spent right away.

Few people actually believed Collins, Nelson, and the rest of this “gang” were trying to actually be responsible spenders. It’s clear, now, that they aren’t even trying to make it look that way.

Update: The Senate just approved an amendment from Tom Coburn (R-OK) that prohibits using any stimulus money on any “any casino or other gambling establishment, aquarium, zoo, golf course, swimming pool, stadium, community park, museum, theater, art center, and highway beautification project.” How, exactly, does Coburn know that spending on a zoo, park, theater or highway beautification doesn’t stimulate the economy, while all the other crap in the bill does?

Call your Senators. Especially those of you who live in Virginia.

David Alpert is Founder and President of Greater Greater Washington and Executive Director of DC Surface Transit. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He lives with his wife and two children in Dupont Circle. Unless otherwise noted, opinions here are his and not the official views of GGWash or DCST.