Tag Archive: Federal Spending

Headline of the Day: Sitting on a Couch

Well, my plan today was to post for your consideration a clear winning in the unintended-irony sweepstakes, this item from the Hunterdon County Democrat as our Headline of the Day:

“Flemington Borough Council meeting a day later; special closed session is on openness in government”

Christie does not apologize for calling Navy SEAL "idiot" and adds "jerk"But then THIS trumped the hell out of it:  

Gov. Christie: Nation turning into ‘people sitting on a couch waiting for their next government check’

After you’re finished recoiling from this headline, for the sheer assault of your governor’s buy-in of the GOP thought-bubble that most of us are sitting on our asses waiting for government cheese to rain from the sky:  

1. Pay no attention to the guys in the boardroom chairs waiting for their next tax loophole: With his corporate welfare buddies, Christie’s in a shaky position to lecture anybody on entitlements.

2. Thanks Gov, but you killed my job: Some of the workers Christie paints as lazy would have good jobs right now if he hadn’t pulled the plug on the ARC Tunnel, a public works project with documented need, the cost of which independent congressional investigators now find (surprise!) Christie exaggerated as he was building his national rep.

3. Really? You said this at a George W. Bush ‘conservative conference’ Conservative? Let’s see. Doubled federal spending inside of 8 years. Privatized war (including the one based on a WMD lie) to the tune of billions and billions of our money to his buddies. TARP bank bailout requiring little if any responsibility back to the public. Whatever Christie says to a gathering of people still impressed by George W. Bush should be held in contempt.

Neither Ledger’s Megan DeMarco, who wrote the story under the headline or the desk editors who probably supplied it used it to mislead the readers about what Gov. Christie said. THAT’s what makes this so alarming.

USAspending.gov and New Jersey

So this new site USAspending.gov is now running.  It gives details of government spending by state and Congressional district.  As this dailykos diary explains:

Today witnessed the launch of USAspending.gov, which was created by the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act by Tom Coburn and Barack Obama.  The site enables tracking of $1 trillion in federal spending on contracts, grants, earmarks, and loans.  The bill faced serious opposition, including anonymous holds by some of the biggest porkbarrel spenders (including Ted Stevens), but in the end, Coburn and Obama prevailed.

So what kind of data does this site give us?  Well, how about the top 100 recipients of federal money, or say which congresspeople rake in the most pork.  And that’s just scratching the surface.

And, to my surprise (especially for a government site), an API is available to make it easy to extract data.

It seems to me that we should take a look at the spending in New Jersey and try to understand what is going on. 

For my district, Frank LoBiondo’s NJ2, we find the perhaps amusing fact that the #1 and #3 Products or Services Sold are:

1.  Toxic Substances Support Services
3.  Fruits and Vegetables

Wow, that’s a combination you don’t like to see.  Only 22.8% of the money spent is awarded through full and open competition. 

I think this is a potentially fantastic site, since you can literally see every contract in your district and the profile of each contractor.  Frankly, however, I don’t have the expertise to interpret all this data.  But if nothing else, we can check out contracts when someone attracts attention in the news.

I’d like to suggest that you (yes, you!) look at your district and poke around in the database.  What do you think?

Staying the Course: A Republican Double Standard.

Spencer Ackerman, from TNR’s The Plank outlined what he believed to be the Republican’s stance on Iraq in four paragraphs.

To truncate I will only cite the last two paragraphs Ackerman quoted:

THE REPUBLICAN CONGRESS AND THE IRAQ WAR IN FOUR PARAGRAPHS:

Third, the Times’s report on the Senate Iraq “debate,” also today:

Earlier today, Republicans defeated a Democratic proposal for an investigation into waste and fraud in military contracts. The proposal, made by Senator Byron L. Dorgan of North Dakota, called for a panel like the one led by Harry Truman when he was a Senator, which uncovered many abuses in military spending during World War II. It failed by a 52-to-44 vote.

And finally, Bill Frist, from the Senate floor today:

Far from the rhetoric of the other side, the Iraqi people want and need us to help them. If we don’t–if we break our promise and cut and run as some would have us do–the implications could be catastrophic.

–Spencer Ackerman

Apparently, the party committed to winning the war on terror is not committed to ensuring taxpayer dollars are spent efficiently and effectively.  The phrase “stay the course” becomes more nauseating each day.