I was excited to hear when Obama announced Recovery.gov, which is a site that is supposedly going to track where all the stimulus spending is going to. Today, on the site, it reads, “Check back after the passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to see how and where your tax dollars are being spent.”
After going to recovery.gov, I went to the White House web site to see if there was some sort of comprehensive list of places that are going to receive the funding so the American people can decide for themselves what is pork spending and what isn’t.
I managed to find the bill in full text on OpenCongress.org, which included both the House and Senate versions of the bill. While it’s great that both versions of the bill are online, the problem is that the average American isn’t going to have the time to go through every provision in the bill and thoroughly analyze its contents.
The problem that I can see right away is that the bill does not establish specific spending priority. Judging from Obama’s rhetoric, I can understand that this bill is meant to stimulate the economy but I see a seemingly endless laundry list of provisions that are organized randomly — so I think there should have been some sort of commentary to ease potential criticism that the spending is merely pork.
When you call a bill the “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act,” you think that there would an initiative to fund crumbling infastructures while creating jobs and increasing domestic growth. Instead, you see things like, “$100,000,000, to remain available until September 30, 2010, to carry out a grant program for National School Lunch Program equipment assistance…” and personally, I don’t understand why $100 million needs to be spent, why is there an urgency to keep that provision in there and how does that stimulates the economy? It really doesn’t.
There are some provisions that ought to be brought forth to Congress in seperate bills like the $300,000,000 for grants to combat violence against women and it’s great that there should be more initiatives to curb domestic violence, but this is $300 million that goes out of the taxpayer under the premise that everything in the bill will stimulate the economy.
While Obama seems to have the best intent in revitalizing America as well as pumping its agencies that serve the federal government with cold hard cash, the spending he’s proposing has a lot of provisions that require individualized debates on the floors of Congress. Those matters can be handled seperately. By not having some of these excessive spending provisions, it will not — as he often says — turn a crisis into a catastrophe. The catastrophe will come if we don’t address the underlying issues that have caused America to lose confidence in the financial market and the private sector.