You might have thought President Obama was kidding when he said it didn’t matter what the $787 billion in “stimulus” money was spent on, because “spending equals stimulus.” Think again. Byron York reports that Congress has no idea where the money is going, and many in that body apparently have no desire to find out:
[R]ight now, with the money actually beginning to flow, members of Congress have little or no idea where it is going. What, for example, is the Department of Housing and Urban Development doing with the $1.5 billion Congress approved for a new program called the Homeless Prevention Fund? Lawmakers don’t know.
If they wanted, majority Democrats could demand real-time details from the Obama administration. But minority Republicans have no power to compel the administration to do anything. So Rep. Eric Cantor, the Republican Whip in the House, and GOP Sen. John Thune have set up a working group to track spending as best they can.
You might think that two high-ranking elected officials would have ways to learn such things, but the fact is, they don’t. At the moment, the best tools Cantor and Thune have are Google and the Lexis-Nexis newspaper database.
The Republicans are relying on local press accounts that document the arrival of “stimulus” funds and, sometimes, say what the money will be spent on. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. The “stimulus” bill didn’t say with any specificity what the $787 billion was to be spent on. Rather, it appropriated money in broad categories and left it to government agencies to figure out what, exactly, should be done with it.
Not surprisingly, a large percentage of the money so allocated, with no effective oversight, is being wasted:
Such searches led the Cantor-Thune group to the Binghamton, New York Press & News-Bulletin for a glimpse into how HUD is spending that $1.5 billion in the Homeless Prevention Fund. In early March, the paper reported that the small town of Union, New York would receive $578,661 from the Fund, even though “Union did not request the money and does not currently have homeless programs in place in the town to administer such funds.”
An article in the Altoona Mirror reported that the small central Pennsylvania town was going to receive $819,000 from the Fund even though Altoona officials “may not have enough of a homelessness problem to use it.” And a Google search turned up a report from WHP-TV in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania saying the city would receive $855,478 from the Fund, but does not know what to do with it.
This sort of waste–and you can be sure that the $787 billion will largely be wasted–would be a scandal even if we had the money. But we don’t. Instead, the Obama administration and the Democratic Congress have mortgaged our children’s future to the Chinese. For what?