Washington Post 4/12/09: “This plan cannot and will not be an excuse for waste and abuse,” President Obama declared last month, after he designated Vice President Biden the “sheriff” in charge of patrolling for misuse of stimulus funds.
When the whole point of a major government spending program is to stimulate the faltering economy as quickly as possible, what exactly counts as “wasted” money? After all, if some stimulus cash is misspent — say an errant official or contractor buys himself a Cadillac or a Harley Davidson, only to suffer the full force of law — might not such fraud boost the economy more than if the cash languished in a law-abiding state account? All that monitoring, however well-intentioned, may undercut recovery by compelling officials to spend more slowly to avoid hearings, prosecution, or embarrassment in the media.
Officials tracking the money recognize the dilemma. “We want this money to be spent, and yet it has to be spent in ways that are consistent with the purpose of the act,” said Chris Mihm, managing director for strategic issues at the Government Accountability Office. “It’s something that we’re struggling with.”
We knew something was funny when the White House claimed that 640,000 to 1 million jobs had been created from this year’s stimulus. What we didn’t know was that it would turn into a massive fraud.
Not only have 640,000 new jobs not been created from the stimulus — an absurd claim, given the economy’s loss of nearly 4 million payroll positions this year — but it now seems that even the jobs themselves are fictional.
Thanks to the digging of a number of data sleuths, it turns out that many of the jobs reported by states come from made-up congressional districts.
One example: the 15th Congressional District of Arizona, where 30 jobs were salvaged with $761,420 in spending, according to Recovery.gov, the official government Web site. As ABC News reports: “There is no 15th Congressional District in Arizona; the state has only eight districts.”
ABC: Job creation is claimed in more than 400 congressional districts that simply do not exist, some of whose existence — the 99th congressional district in the U.S. territory of the Northern Mariana Islands, for instance — is preposterous.
KDVR-TV DENVER, Colo. – Have you ever heard of Colorado’s “00” Congressional District?
Neither has anyone else, except for the federal agency assigned to dole out the $787 billion stimulus plan. In fact the “00” Congressional District received more than $10 million in stimulus funds.
The mythical 64th CD got $33,195 according to recovery.gov, which allows the public to “Track the Money” online. The website lists 14 jobs created in the non-existent 64th.
Regarding the data purporting to create jobs in congressional districts that don’t exist, Ed Pound a spokesman for the Recovery board said,“Some recipients clearly don’t know what congressional district they live in.”
States as diverse as Kansas, New Mexico, New Hampshire, Ohio, Minnesota and West Virginia also reported phony jobs.
Stimulus jobs were also reported in 35 congressional districts in Washington, D.C., and four U.S. territories. The problem: None of those jurisdictions even has congressional districts.
All told, according to the useful Web site Watchdog.org, some $6.4 billion was spent to “create or save” 30,000 jobs in phantom districts. That comes out to about $225,000 per nonexistent job. And that’s only what’s been found so far.
Some cases were egregious. California’s state university system took in $268.5 million in stimulus funds, claiming it “saved” 26,000 jobs. It has since admitted that few, if any, jobs were really at risk.
Detroit Free Press:
“It looks to us like the program is unfolding much as we hoped in Michigan,” said White House economic adviser Jared Bernstein.
The Free Press examination of more than 1,800 government reports of those who have received or expect to receive stimulus money found the biggest impact was spurring or protecting public-sector or summer jobs — not private-sector jobs. Michigan has the nation’s worst unemployment rate.
Officials reported that by Sept. 30, some 22,500 Michigan jobs were created or retained thanks to the promise of $5.2 billion in stimulus money for the state, $1.2 billion of which had arrived.
The analysis also found:
• Three of every four stimulus grants, contracts and loans approved in Michigan created or retained one job or less.
• Fewer than 700 awards had received some money, and nearly half of those — 327 — had created one job or less, at a cost per job of $2.7 million.
• Some job estimates were wrong: General Motors Co., for instance, reported 105 jobs saved or created for a government purchase of 5,000 vehicles but later said no jobs were saved or created. The City of Detroit reported 342 jobs it now says were projections — not jobs already created or retained.
Detroit reported on a grant award — $10 million for work on 14 improvement projects in the city — saying 342 jobs had been saved or created, despite none of the money actually reaching the city yet. Last week, city officials told the Free Press those were only projections — not jobs saved or created.
The Ingham County Health Department reported 97.49 jobs retained, but an official with the agency said without the funding, six jobs would have been lost.
I want to know about that .49 of a job. Don’t you? 🙂
• A company working with the Federal Communications Commission reported that stimulus money paid for 4,231 jobs, when about 1,000 were produced.
• A Georgia community college reported creating 280 jobs with recovery money, but none was created from stimulus spending.
• A Florida child care center said its stimulus money saved 129 jobs but used the money on raises for existing employees.
“If I give you a raise, it is going to save a portion of your job,” HHS spokesman Luis Rosero said.
That counts, doesn’t it. 🙂
The White House reportedly blames the errors on, among other things, accounting problems, and not fraud.
Oh, really? 🙂
On Friday (Oct 30th), the Obama administration released the most detailed information yet on the jobs created by the stimulus. Of the 640,239 jobs recipients claimed to have created or saved so far, officials said, more than half — 325,000 — were in education.
Not that there jobs were really threatened, but paying of f the NEA for their support is always a good think for liberals to do.
NY Times: “We can’t make the statement that they were created or retained,” Mr. Johnston said. Indiana, he said had followed federal guidelines in reporting how many full-time jobs were paid for with the stimulus money, which also paid for education supplies and other expenses. And while New York City officials have said the stimulus helped them save thousands of teaching jobs, it would have been politically difficult for Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg to actually lay off that many teachers while running for re-election.
He narrowly won. 🙂
The government’s response to all this? “Human beings make mistakes,” shrugged Recovery Board spokesman Ed Pound on Monday.
Oh, of course they do. We’re sorry for doubting you. Please accept our apologies. We’ll just go away and let you get on with your saving of mankind… 🙂
How dare we question your integrity or your veracity. 🙂
ABC: Ed DeSeve, senior advisor to the president for Recovery Act implementation, said he’d been “scrubbing” the job estimates so much since they came it at the beginning of the month that he now has “dishpan hands and my fingers are worn to the nub.”
The White House argues that the actual job number is actually larger than 640,000 — closer to 1 million jobs when one factors in stimulus jobs added in October and, more importantly, jobs created indirectly, such as “the waitress who’s still on the job,” Vice President Biden said today.
So let’s see. Assuming their number is right — 160 billion divided by 1 million. Does that mean the stimulus costs taxpayers $160,000 per job?
Jared Bernstein, chief economist and senior economic advisor to the vice president, called that “calculator abuse.”
It’s abuse alright, just not of a poor, hapless calculator.
NBC: Improper payments by the U.S. government to people, firms and contractors rose sharply to $98 billion in fiscal 2009 and President Barack Obama plans new rules to clamp down, the White House said Tuesday.
Now imagine all of this had occurred under George W. Bush.
Can you see the Special Prosecutors, the Calls for Impeachment, the 24 hour News Exposes, the endless headlines?
But what do we get now, bored disinterest and lame excuses that your mother wouldn’t buy.
The media is far more interested in Sarah Palin’s new Book to give a crap about this.
“Imagine that,” the post read. “11 AP reporters dedicating time and resources to tearing up the book, instead of using the time and resources to ‘fact check’ what’s going on with Sheik Mohammed’s trial, Pelosi’s health care takeover costs, Hasan’s associations, etc. Amazing.”
So what’s there ultimate answer: Hey, lets SPEND EVEN MORE!
Because the unemployment rate is still climbing well above the 8% promised by the president if we accepted the stimulus: OBAMA: in December, we’ll be holding a forum at the White House on jobs and economic growth. We’ll gather CEOs and small business owners, economists and financial experts, as well as representatives from labor unions and nonprofit groups, to talk about how we can work together to create jobs and get this economy moving again….On November 6 in the Rose Garden, Obama said that his economic team “is looking at ideas such as additional investments in our aging roads and bridges, incentives to encourage families and businesses to make building more energy-efficient…aka spending and regulation.
Gee, I thought that was what the stimulus was suppose to already have done?
maybe we can tax the people from those non-existent congressional districts?
Or send even more money to them to create more jobs there. 🙂
I guess that was another “human error”. 🙂
And the fact that a lot of the stimulus money was convienently slated for the Congressional election year of 2010 is also just that, a coincidence.
It’s all very “transparent”…
And can we fire the Sheriff? and his Boss while we’re at it? 🙂