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$1 Million on Syrian Hookah Use Amid Depression-Era Bailout?


Hookah pipes and the housing crisis? Oh yep, just stuff Congress is spending money on. I'm going to wager you probably don't remember the Great Depression — but Congress gave us a little romp through nostalgia this weekend by passing the biggest rescue package since FDR sat in the Oval Office. We might not be on the same page if we're saying "recession" but no matter. We're funding it like it's the big D.

The bailout gives the treasury big authority to prop up the mortgage lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac by raising the ceiling on the national debt to $800 billion. The hope is by raising the country's credit limit, another wave of foreclosures can be stopped. More than 740,000 homes fell into foreclosure in the second quarter of this year.

Think that's depressing? To get a load of the other pipe Congress is smoking, read more.

In addition to housing bailouts, the US has spent $1 million researching Syrians addicted to hookahs. Yup. Hookahs (aka, hubbly-bubbly — I can't make this up.) Taxpayers are funding research at the Syrian Center for Tobacco Study on whether smoking through a water pipe is less harmful than regular smoking. Well, I'm dying to know the answer to that, aren't you? Hold on while I get out my checkbook.

A spokesman for Citizens Against Government Waste says while research is useful, it's not something that taxpayers should be funding. "Why is the federal taxpayer always the one who has to pay for this? We question whether this is a national priority to figure out the problems of other countries. Let’s figure out our problems and solve those.” The NIH Fogarty Center originating the research stands to get $66 million next year.

Is raising the national debt ceiling the answer? Should more be trimmed from areas like hookah research before the US goes further in the hole?

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