Friday, February 20, 2009

I Smell A RAT

Unfortunately, this kind of thing is going to keep happening for a while. More revelations regarding "hidden" provisions in the ARRA stimulus bill, aka Porculus.

(Newser) – Hidden away in the $787 billion stimulus bill is a lousy provision that threatens to inject politics into the jobs of supposedly independent government watchdogs, writes Byron York of the Washington Examiner. The bill creates something called the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board—the RAT board to the few who know of it. From now on, inspectors general—investigators who check into wrongdoing at federal agencies—must clear their inquiries with the board.

"The language means that the board—whose chairman will be appointed by the president—can reach deep inside a federal agency and tell an inspector general to lay off some particularly sensitive subject," writes York. "Or, conversely, it can tell the inspector general to go after a tempting political target." It's not clear yet who snuck it in, but signs point to the Obama administration, not Congress.
Hidden? How is it hidden you ask? The pig is a bloated 1,000 plus page document that nobody read. Did I mention I hate omnibus bills?

It's actually hard to move me to public action, since I normally seethe in private indignation, but I got so annoyed with my elected officials that I wrote my Congressmen about it. One Senator and one Representative did not bother to acknowledge me -- fie! The other U.S. Senator from Virginia, Mark Warner, sent me this lovely form letter; a few days later when I urged the Senator to READ the bill before voting on it, he sent me almost the exact same form letter again.

Thank you for contacting me with your views on the economic stimulus package. In order to best represent you as your United States Senator, it is vital that I hear your view on this and other important matters.

I recognize that many Virginians still have concerns about the need for a stimulus package. There has also been a good deal of misinformation surrounding this legislation, both about what is included and how it will be implemented. On February 10, 2009, I joined a majority of the Senate in approving a bipartisan compromise to restart the economy through a responsible mix of tax cuts and investments that will create jobs. The compromise includes more than $360 billion in tax relief and roughly $460 billion in short-term spending over the next two years on roads, rail, water and sewer projects, as well as additional health care and jobless assistance for the unemployed. The agreement was widely supported by our nation's leading business groups, and I was pleased to work with a centrist group of colleagues to craft the proposal that passed the Senate, which was signed by the President on February 17, 2009.

President Obama and the relevant Congressional committees have been in close consultation with state and local officials and a wide range of economic experts to develop an approach that represents a prudent and effective path to economic recovery. Their consensus found that if nothing is done in the face of this economic crisis, catastrophic consequences could face small businesses and working families across the country.

The Administration and Congress have provided for unprecedented oversight, accountability and transparency in the measure so that taxpayers' money is handled carefully and used in the most efficient and effective manner possible. Moving forward, I will continue to work for Virginians to ensure that the funds in the stimulus package are directly targeted to job creation and "shovel ready" initiatives. You should know that a Recovery Act and Transparency Board will also oversee the disbursement of the funds and a website provided by the White House,, will post detailed information about recovery spending.

The Recovery and Reinvestment Act is but one component of a three-part plan to restore our economy. We still have important work to do to address the foreclosure crisis and shore-up the real estate market and we also must take steps to repair our banking system so that credit will begin flowing again to consumers and small businesses.

Again, thank you for your input. As we move forward in the 111th Congress, please continue to be in touch with your opinions and concerns.

United States Senator
Man, what is that stink? First pork, then rats, now weasels. Who's running this zoo?

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