A year ago today, President Obama signed the stimulus bill into law; $787 billion to jump start the U.S. economy.
One surprising area getting more than $130 million of that is three tiny islands in the Caribbean. Our Jim Acosta braved the elements of a tropical paradise as part of our ongoing effort to uncover where your stimulus dollars are going.
Full coverage: The Stimulus Project
It's been a bruising week for the president's financial team. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner was grilled by Congress over the bailout of AIG. And Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke, was confirmed for a second term, but only after a grueling confirmation hearing.
All this comes as the president pushes for regulation to rein-in Wall Street. For his take, we were joined Friday on American Morning by the man they used to call the "sheriff of Wall Street," former New York Gov. Elliot Spitzer.
Editor's Note: All week, CNN examines the stimulus and looks at one of the greatest areas of concern for Americans: the economy. Today, our Christine Romans finds out why a bridge that was built to make residents safe is now being called a waste of their money. Friday on American Morning, our Gerri Willis has the story of one man in Ohio who says the stimulus saved his family from losing everything and is giving them hope for the future.
By Christine Romans and Julian Cummings, CNN
Thedford, Nebraska (CNN) – Sixty to eighty trains rumble through this ranching town in the Nebraska sand hills every day. The roar of the coal cars and the scream of the whistle and the wait at the crossing for the train to pass are a way of life.
An almost $7 million coal bridge will change that. Instead of waiting for 30 seconds to 3 minutes for a train to pass, cars will now pass over the railroad tracks on a massive bridge. Since this is a town of just 168 people, the bridge is the largest per-capita stimulus project in the state.
So how does Thedford feel about its stimulus money?
"We haven’t seen any money. Not yet," says Judy Taylor, Thomas County treasurer and Thedford town chairman.
Some long-time residents openly scoff at the title of biggest per-capita recipients of stimulus dollars in the state.
Marv Blauvelt was born and raised in this town. He says the bridge is a waste.
"Well, really in all honesty we don't know what the point is, except some design engineer in Lincoln decided that this is what needed to be done and they said it would take ten to fifteen years to make it happen. Well it happened a lot quicker than that because of the stimulus," said Blauvelt.
The project was indeed "shovel ready," sitting on the books just waiting for funding. When the stimulus was passed, the process moved quickly and construction began last summer on Thedford's new bridge.
Nebraska Department of Roads Director Monty Fredrickson says the crossing was a traffic and safety issue.
"The conflict between the rail and the highway is an important feature both from a safety aspect, continuity, mobility and especially emergency services," said Frederickson.
And he defended the project, saying it would indeed stimulate the economy.
Editor's Note: All week, CNN examines the stimulus and looks at one of the greatest areas of concern for Americans: the economy. Today, can a $5.5 million resort town restoration project be a good use of stimulus aid? Our Christine Romans finds out why one woman is grateful for the stimulus. And tomorrow on American Morning, we find out why a bridge that was built to make residents safe is now being called a waste of their money.
By Christine Romans and Sara Lane, CNN
Rehoboth Beach, Delaware (CNN) – It's the dead of winter and Rehoboth Beach is hopping...with construction workers rebuilding a mile of old boardwalk with $5.5 million stimulus dollars.
City Commissioner Stan Mills shows off the project to CNN, thrilled that the boardwalk will be finished for the start of the season. It's frigid here now, but more than a dozen workers are dumping sand, laying boards, and maneuvering heavy equipment. All thanks to the massive federal stimulus.
"There would be no workers here. There would be no workers potentially getting paychecks," Mills says, saying that parts of the boardwalk were crumbling and more than 50 years old.
But stimulus for a resort town? The project landed on a Republican list of wasteful stimulus projects. Even a local Democrat, Angel Clark,staged a small protest against it. She's worried America is spending money it doesn't have on projects it doesn't need.
"Five and a half million dollars is an extremely large amount of money," Clark says. "It doesn't make sense to me the concept of using money to build this boardwalk when it was already functional."
But don't tell Stan Mills it's waste and not stimulus. Anything that attracts tourists, he says, helps the restaurants, shops and hotels, who in turn hire workers.