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Stimulus Money Plows Through Tractor Country

Ray Suarez speaks with Dante Chinni of the Patchwork Nation project about tracking federal stimulus money as it is dispersed through America.

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  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Next: where the government's stimulus money is going, as broken down by Patchwork Nation, an on-air and online project that will be making regular contributions to the NewsHour in the months ahead.

    Ray Suarez is our guide.

  • RAY SUAREZ:

    And I'm here with Dante Chinni, who heads up the Patchwork Nation project.

    And, Dante, you and your team have looked where the stimulus money has gone so far. What have you found?

  • DANTE CHINNI:

    Yes. With the help of ProPublica, who kind of sorted some of the stuff out by county, we mapped it. And then we have these counties broken in types. So, we can kind of get a sense what kind of place in America, what type of community is getting the money.

    And these are highway funds. This isn't all of the stimulus, but this is the thing they thought would create the most jobs. And, so far, it's largely going to rural, agricultural America, per capita. The largest amounts, by far, are going there. And, you know, that's — that's not necessarily bad.

    Those places, a lot of times, have building that needs to be done, gravel roads that needs to be made permanent. But the point of the stimulus was to help unemployment. And those places aren't struggling with unemployment right now.

  • RAY SUAREZ:

    The counties with the heaviest spending, in absolute terms and in per capita terms, are in the darkest green. And it looks like they're concentrated west of the Mississippi.

  • DANTE CHINNI:

    Yes, absolutely. It's — it's — and this has to do somewhat with the way the funding works for highway money.

    When — when they — when they decided to put this money forward as a stimulus — stimulus plan, it goes into highway — it goes for highway funds, but they didn't kind of change the formula. The formula is based more upon miles driven, miles of road in the area. So, you tend to go out to less crowded areas, less industrial areas, fewer cities, really.

  • RAY SUAREZ:

    And those are the places where people drive very long distances…

  • DANTE CHINNI:

    That's right.

  • RAY SUAREZ:

    … and have a lot of roads.

  • DANTE CHINNI:

    And some of those places do need help.

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