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Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Trillion and a half Dollar Boondoggle

Way back when, while the stimulus was still being debated, I wrote this piece.

The stimulus is not an $800 billion bill. Rather it is one hundred thousand pieces of spending ranging from tens of thousands to tens of millions. In order to work, they all, for the most part, have to be spent wisely and without corruption. It becomes a leap of faith that localities like Auburn, Al. are spending on stimulative projects rather than merely boons for themselves and their friends. In order to work, these nearly one hundred thousand projects need to be puppetteered by federal, state, and local governments all working to make them stimulative. The President is confident it will work, but looking at Stimulus Watch makes me less than confident.

I surmised then that there was no way that the federal government was going to keep track of each and every penny spent. Instead, they would write checks to states, they would write them to localities, and localities would be the ones following the money. This was going to filled with potential waste and corruption. You are now relying on thousands of localities, many of them corrupt, to oversee the stimulus themselves.

Well, now we have this report from Jake Tapper.

The Government Accountability Office today issued a report on the $787 billion stimulus bill called "RECOVERY ACT: As Initial Implementation Unfolds in States and Localities, Continued Attention to Accountability Issues Is Essential."

The GAO study asserts that officials from most of the states surveyed "expressed concerns regarding the lack of Recovery Act funding provided for accountability and oversight. Due to fiscal constraints, many states reported significant declines in the number of oversight staff -- limiting their ability to ensure proper implementation and management of Recovery Act funds."

Because the economic downturn has led to "fiscal constraints, many states reported significant declines in the number of oversight staff, limiting their ability to ensure proper implementation and management of Recovery Act funds.


So, states and localities are in charge of following the money and the feds haven't even given them enough money to be able to do this sufficiently. In other words, pretty much no one is watching the nearly $800 billion in stimulus. More interesting will be just how much other media will report on this report. Since this particular report paints the administration negatively, you can bet this will be overlooked by almost all of the MSM.

Furthermore, this report follows another report by the Office of Inspector General which also concludes that the TARP funds aren't being overseen nearly effectively enough. For instance, banks are required to disclose what they plan on doing with TARP funds, but not required to account for what they have actually done.

So, what do we have? We have an administration that promised transparency and accountability and so far it has created a $1.5 trillion boondoggle for corrupt bankers, states, and municpilaties, and the losers are the taxpayers.

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