Great news: Porkulus accountability just as good as TARP’s

posted at 3:55 pm on April 23, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

When Barack Obama pushed his $787 billion Porkulus bill through Congress, he pledged strict accountability over the money.  Obama even famously warned mayors that waste and fraud would get his undivided attention, and that his wrath would be mighty indeed:

“If a federal agency proposes a project that will waste that money, I will not hesitate to call them out on it, and put a stop to it,” he said. “I want everyone here to be on notice that if a local government does the same, I will call them out on it, and use the full power of my office and our administration to stop it.”

Welcome to yet another round of Guess That Expiration DateJake Tapper highlights a new GAO report, which reveals that the bill provides insufficient accountability for the nearly $800 billion it proposes to spend.  Why?  Because it left accountability to the states, which don’t have the personnel to manage it:

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.”

As but one example, Colorado’s state auditor told GAO about the difficulty the state has in conducting oversight of the stimulus finds. The Colorado legislature’s Joint Budget Committee recently cut in half field audit staff for the Colorado Department of Human Services. The Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing has had three controllers in the past four years. Vacancies exist for the positions of internal auditor at the Department of Personnel & Administration, and deputy controller at the Colorado Department of Transportation.

The GAO report’s warning of a lack of oversight echoed criticisms from earlier this week, when the Office of Special Inspector General for the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program Neil Barofsky presented his quarterly report to Congress.

Read the rest of Tapper’s report to find out all the ways in which no one can tell where the TARP money went. Porkulus has all the same problems — spending large amounts of money with no real plan, no built-in accountability, and no one terribly interested in Washington now that the money’s been allocated.

Obama to mayors: Hey, never mind.  Can’t a man just eat his waffle?

Obama pledged to bring new openness and transparency to Washington.  How’s that working out for us?


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Do I get a putton to push to try to “Guess on the Expiration Date”?

It is about as good as a lottery anymore.

upinak on April 23, 2009 at 3:57 PM

What’s the big deal? It’s just taxpayers money we’re talking about.

TooTall on April 23, 2009 at 4:00 PM

I thought Joe was supposed to be on top of this. Are you saying people are messing with Joe?

Ferris on April 23, 2009 at 4:00 PM

I laugh at the people that really thought this would go off without a hitch. I laugh at the people who honestly believe government is the right apparatus to solve financial problems.

Wait. I just looked at my kids.

Suddenly, it’s not really funny, is it?

BardMan on April 23, 2009 at 4:00 PM

The issue is execution, not the big picture ideas. None of them have any real execution ability.

AnninCA on April 23, 2009 at 4:00 PM

It’s like a movie where you can guess the whole plot five minutes in.

Johnson on April 23, 2009 at 4:02 PM

Entirely predictable. The question is not will billions (or more) of taxpayer money be wasted/stolen in all these phony “stimulus” and bailout schemes, the only real question is how many billions will be wasted/stolen.

AZCoyote on April 23, 2009 at 4:03 PM

It’ll be a hardship, but I’ll volunteer. Just send me the money. I’ll take care of it.

kirkill on April 23, 2009 at 4:04 PM

Obama pledged to bring new openness and transparency to Washington. How’s that working out for us?

Obama called Canada to let them know this was just campaign rhetoric, also.

Joe Caps on April 23, 2009 at 4:04 PM

Is it time to hit the “Reset” button, or is it more appropriately called the “Overcharge” button?

onlineanalyst on April 23, 2009 at 4:04 PM

calling sheriff joe

Joe Caps on April 23, 2009 at 4:05 PM

If they don’t respect our tax dollars and spend them wisely with full accounting, why are we sending them our tax dollars?

lorien1973 on April 23, 2009 at 4:05 PM

Obama pledged to bring new openness and transparency to Washington the CIA.

ExcessivelyDiverted on April 23, 2009 at 4:05 PM

Obama pledged to bring new openness and transparency to Washington.

This is one promise Obama has delivered on, seriously.
He has opened up the spigots on the cash to full and is perfectly transparent about doing it. Anyone here not absolutely certain the money is just being wasted?
It’s clear to me.

Rocks on April 23, 2009 at 4:07 PM

DC is like “Married with Children”

Gubmint is Peg Bundy

We are Al Bundy

Peg just wants our money to spend it; then laughs at us as we go to work and earn it while it sits on the couch and produces nothing.

lorien1973 on April 23, 2009 at 4:08 PM

lorien1973 on April 23, 2009 at 4:08 PM

Oh man. Now that’s a blog entry.

lorien1973 on April 23, 2009 at 4:09 PM

If they don’t respect our tax dollars and spend them wisely with full accounting, why are we sending them our tax dollars?

lorien1973 on April 23, 2009 at 4:05 PM

Exactly, I’m thinking it’s time to adjust all our W4s to not give any taxes at this time…and see what kind of tea party we throw next April.

kirkill on April 23, 2009 at 4:10 PM

lorien, none of them even know how to be accountable. That’s all just BS.

Homeland Security actually announced they were going to save money by buying office supplies in bulk. I about fell off my chair. And, remember, this was under Bush. What the heck? They are going to Staples?

That’s why Katrina was such a mess. It wasn’t motive. That kind of talk is ridiculous. It was execution.

Same with Obama. He has no clue about that. He’s just a talker. His only skill is talk-talk.

AnninCA on April 23, 2009 at 4:10 PM

Does this really surprise anyone? The entire porkulus bill was one big payoff to the Democrat supporters. The less oversight, the better.

Oh, but don’t worry. Obama has announced he’s holding another press conference next week(the networks must really be loving him now) and I’m certain the drive-bys will be all over this.

/sarc

Doughboy on April 23, 2009 at 4:15 PM

They are going to Staples?

I posted that the other day. A Sam’s Club membership is all that stands between us and fiscal responsibility. WTF?

lorien1973 on April 23, 2009 at 4:15 PM

/sarc

Doughboy on April 23, 2009 at 4:15 PM

Didn’t feel like sarc

kirkill on April 23, 2009 at 4:17 PM

Ed – hilarious cap and tag line!

kybowexar on April 23, 2009 at 4:18 PM

yeah well, they probably buy name brand ink for their printers…fools!

kirkill on April 23, 2009 at 4:18 PM

I thought Joe was supposed to be on top of this. Are you saying people are messing with Joe?

Ferris on April 23, 2009 at 4:00 PM

Wasn’t this the occasion when Obama specifically said, “Joe’s on the case”?

I smell Memorial Day or Fourth of July events that will dwarf the Tea Parties.

BuckeyeSam on April 23, 2009 at 4:20 PM

RICGA: Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Government Act.

Loxodonta on April 23, 2009 at 4:21 PM

And do you think liberal voters care? They are humming ‘I can’t hear you’ pleased that their guy is in office. After all, he just needs some time. They deny that the sound of water rushing over the falls is anything other than their own humming. It couldn’t exist, because they, those they voted for, and their ideals are all pure and well founded. There is little self-examination. 10s of millions of lemmings are carrying me toward the cliff and the ones in front won’t be able to stop because of the ones in back. Gah, these disasters won’t be like before, here.

AnotherOpinion on April 23, 2009 at 4:21 PM

As Rush says all the time…

it doesn’t matter what he says, when he says it, his idiot supporters feel good.

notagool on April 23, 2009 at 4:22 PM

I thought Joe was supposed to be on top of this. Are you saying people are messing with Joe?

Ferris on April 23, 2009 at 4:00 PM

Heh. Yep, everyone is messing with Joe. But the hair plugs are stopping all coherent thought…

mjk on April 23, 2009 at 4:23 PM

There are some good government agencies that are truly role models. Take the DMV. They are pretty darn sharp, at least where I am. So is Social Security.

But these are long-term organizations that have worked out the kinks and actually work. We may complain, but it’s just nonsense, usually.

So, there’s no reason why government cannot work like a clock.

The problem is the political swings with these “outlier” groups.

And that stimulus bill was entirely “out.”

AnninCA on April 23, 2009 at 4:23 PM

Didn’t feel like sarc

kirkill on April 23, 2009 at 4:17 PM

The second part was sarc. At best, he gets one question about this and he’ll stumble his way through a non-answer.

Doughboy on April 23, 2009 at 4:24 PM

Homeland Security actually announced they were going to save money by buying office supplies in bulk. I about fell off my chair. And, remember, this was under Bush. What the heck? They are going to Staples?

AnninCA on April 23, 2009 at 4:10 PM

IIRC, that was a 52 million dollar savings over a 5 year period,..or 10 million a year. Plus, the money won’t be actually saved but transferred into other new expenditure areas. Creative accounting,..like social security.

a capella on April 23, 2009 at 4:24 PM

Oh, I think this is a watershed moment, Another.

Yes, we care.

AnninCA on April 23, 2009 at 4:24 PM

From Recovery.org:


Accountability and Transparency

“We cannot overstate the importance of this effort. We are asking the American people to trust their government with an unprecedented level of funding to address the economic emergency. In return, we must prove to them that their dollars are being invested in initiatives and strategies that make a difference in their communities and across the country. Following through on our commitments for accountability and openness will create a foundation upon which we can build as we continue to tackle the economic crisis and the many other challenges facing our nation.”

Memorandum to Head of Departments and Agencies, February 9, 2009

Obama looks at camera, eyebrows raised. His arms spread wide as he shrugs, signaling “What can I do?”

Trumpet, from off-stage:Wah-waaaaaah.

Audience laughs and claps.

Ferris on April 23, 2009 at 4:25 PM

Exactly, I’m thinking it’s time to adjust all our W4s to not give any taxes at this time…and see what kind of tea party we throw next April.

kirkill on April 23, 2009 at 4:10 PM

Think about this peaceful act of civil disobedience: a nationwide case of “Tax Return Flu.” After months of lowball withholding, no one files a 2009 return on April 15, everyone files for the automatic extension citing a lowball tax liability, and waits out the summer and fall leading up to the 2010 midterms. The interest, failure to timely pay penalty, and the underpayment penaly might be worth the price to see the feds squirm.

BuckeyeSam on April 23, 2009 at 4:28 PM

When pigs come home to roost.

Loxodonta on April 23, 2009 at 4:29 PM

Obama enthusiastically points to next part of recovery.org, promising that at least he did that part:

The President has made it clear that every taxpayer dollar spent on our economic recovery must be subject to unprecedented levels of transparency and accountability. He has identified five crucial objectives for Federal agencies, to ensure that:

* Recovery funds are awarded and distributed in a prompt, fair, and reasonable manner;
* The recipients and uses of all recovery funds are transparent to the public, and that the public benefits of these funds are reported clearly, accurately, and in a timely manner;
* Recovery funds are used for authorized purposes and every step is taken to prevent instances of fraud, waste, error, and abuse;
* Projects funded under the recovery legislation avoid unnecessary delays and cost overruns; and,
* Programs meet specific goals and targets, and contribute to improved performance on broad economic indicators.

To meet these objectives, the President is directing Federal agencies to take critical steps in implementing the Act.

Obama slaps his forehead, and falls over backwards.

Audience erupts in laughter, and heavy applause as the curtain falls.

Ferris on April 23, 2009 at 4:29 PM

I’m sorry, wasn’t V.P. Biden taking care of this? On the local radio station they have a commercial with the mayor saying “If it’s free money, I am getting in line.” Funny, I emailed the station today to clarify who it was making the remark. The quote was specifically made about the “stimulus” bill. Now this comes out. Our own government officials are passing this off as “free money”!!!! What is wrong with these people?

Cindy Munford on April 23, 2009 at 4:30 PM

I’d be interested to see how much air play this gets in MSM, but I’m not about to watch/hear MSM to find out.

kirkill on April 23, 2009 at 4:33 PM

With eyes glazed over, and fingers in ears, to shut out any common sense responses, I say….It’s Bush’s fault.

capejasmine on April 23, 2009 at 4:40 PM

We are so far in the negative anyways, whats a few more hundred billion more taxpayer dollars unaccounted for going to matter?/sarc

canditaylor68 on April 23, 2009 at 4:46 PM

Just a reminder of what we have to look forward to.

“History teaches us that an outlay of so much money in such a short period of time will inevitably attract those seeking to profit criminally,” Barofsky testified

It seems that Obama is intentionally setting up a situation where he will encourage show trials of “wasteful” political opponents who fall for the bait, while his friends and allies rake in tens/hundreds of millions.

econavenger on April 23, 2009 at 5:07 PM

Didn’t Obama claim that all spending is stimulus when asked a question about pork in porkulus?

How is fraud any different?

MarkTheGreat on April 23, 2009 at 5:15 PM

I’m sure Obama will get right on this, and demand his staff save another $100 million to show that he’s serious about accountability and fiscal responsibility.

Hahahahahahahaha!!!!!!!!

GarandFan on April 23, 2009 at 5:33 PM

Doesn’t The Chicago Jesus need to read the bill first. Well has anybody seen the puppy lately???

Dire Straits on April 23, 2009 at 6:09 PM

Accountability is adistraction.

Ted Torgerson on April 23, 2009 at 7:07 PM

No accountability from the most irresponsible Presidency, Congress & Administration ever. I expected that.

Waste, Fraud, Treason, Incompetence and Abuse.
I reckon Perjury is next.

Accountability will require many feet of rope and many tall trees.

old trooper2 on April 23, 2009 at 7:37 PM

C’mon, he’s only had 100 days. /sarc Those that elected Moobama will never admit their mistake.

BHO Jonestown on April 23, 2009 at 8:04 PM

“Uh, um…er…actually I meant, um, transparency and, uh, what’s the word?, uh, accountability for the Bush, uh, administration.”

Dr. ZhivBlago on April 23, 2009 at 9:38 PM

I know…I figured it out! All we have to do is wait for the memos from state heads to the federal government, then Obama can call for them to be released. Only the ones showing how the states are doing so much better now with all that extra free cash flowing into their coffers, though, to show what a glorious idea Porkulous was. :-P

Highlar on April 23, 2009 at 9:38 PM

I just love the picture. It portrays The Messiah perfectly.

Dingbat63 on April 24, 2009 at 12:08 AM

There are some good government agencies that are truly role models. Take the DMV. They are pretty darn sharp, at least where I am. So is Social Security.

But these are long-term organizations that have worked out the kinks and actually work. We may complain, but it’s just nonsense, usually.

So, there’s no reason why government cannot work like a clock …
AnninCA on April 23, 2009 at 4:23 PM

I’m not sure if this post was sarcasm or not. In any case if you do want a reason, I would refer you to Friedman’s discussion of the four ways to spend money. These are:

1. Spend your own money on what you want. This is the most efficient way of spending money since you have the motivation to economize, spend what you can afford, and get as much as you can at the most reasonable price (for you.)
2. Spend someone else’s money on what you want. In this case you get more than what you want or need, because someone else is paying the bill. For example if you’re given a $30 stipend for lunch, you’ll more likely to buy that big steak even if you don’t really need it.
3. Spend your own money on someone else. In this case you probably pretty frugal with your money but you may not be successful in your purchases. Go to any department store on the day after Christmas and check out the return lines to see the success of this approach.
4. Spend someone else’s money on someone else. This is the worst of all possible worlds: you have no incentive to economize and you’re less likely to make a wise buying decision.

#4 represents government spending.

PackerBronco on April 24, 2009 at 1:04 AM

Obama to mayors: Hey, never mind. Can’t a man just eat his waffle?

I think not.

Aronne on April 24, 2009 at 9:02 AM