By a vote of 73-24 on Friday, the Senate agreed to an amendment to the stimulus advertised as "ensur[ing] that taxpayer money is not lost on wasteful and non-simulative projects." Proposed by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), the amendment reads:
None of the amounts appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act may be used for any casino or other gambling establishment, aquarium, zoo, golf course, swimming pool, stadium, community park, museum, theater, art center, and highway beautification project.
From a certain perspective, that does sound like common sense. Certainly, it makes enough sense on a superficial level that a fair amount of Democrats, perhaps scared of the political consequences of voting against the amendment, supported the change.
Then again, if you haven't seen it already, now would be a good time to go check out the roundup of New Deal construction projects that's up on the site right now. It's a reminder of how many of our national landmarks are an outgrowth of the New Deal, and of the kind of things that are prohibited under this amendment.
By the way, in case it needs to be said, money spent on a zoo can be just as stimulative as any other kind of funding. Fun things need someone to build them and run them, same as anything else.