Economics

Coming Soon: "Billions of Dollars Being Wasted"

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The AP reports on a nascent Republican attempt to track wasteful and useless spending in the stimulus package.

It's a nice idea and one that the GOP really should have thought about more seriously when it controlled all branches of the federal government and wasted our money like a boatful of sailors drunk on Old Spice martinis on everything from an elective and poorly prosecuted war in Iraq to useless education programs to a prescription drug benefit for the wealthiest class of Americans and more.

But hey, better late than never, right? It's amazing how the threat of electoral execution has concentrated the Republican mind, innit? I suspect the party's newfound interest in reducing spending and the size of government will last precisely up to the moment when they regain the majority. As financial advisers will tell you, past performance is not a guarantee of future results. But in this case, we know that it is.

Anyhoo, buried in that the AP story is this passage, which is well worth reading beyond anything related to partisanship. It underscores among other things, the idiocy of ramming through massive and transformative legislation (Obama's own characterization of the stimulus package) without anything like proper oversight vaguely in place:

The self-described watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense says that under the new stimulus bill, "some federal agencies are seeing their budgets doubled or more. Coupled with the demand for speed, it is easy to foresee billions of dollars being wasted."

In many places the federal government lacks the resources it needs to prepare the way for efficient contracts, said Stan Z. Soloway, president of the Professional Services Council, a trade group for government contractors.

"We have a shortage of engineering skills, a shortage of cost-and-pricing skills," said Soloway, a former deputy undersecretary of defense. The Obama administration is taking well-meaning steps to oversee the spending, but some irregularities are inevitable, he said, and people should try to learn details before jumping to conclusions of fraud.

More here.