In an apparent effort to answer that enduring question, What does the Vice President actually do?, Time's Michael Scherer checked in on America's favorite Amtrak-loving jabber-jaw and found him doing the important and Vice Presidential job of heading up our national effort to keep taxpayer money from being spent on putt-putt:
Biden's team informed states and localities months ago to scrub their wish lists of anything that might be seen as unnecessary or wasteful. White House officials were happy to sign off on bridge repairs and roadwork on busy intersections and new runway signals for strapped airports. But they have spent a lot of time trying to kill projects that sound like red alerts on Fox News: a plan for military-cemetery headstone-straightening was scrapped, as was a request for a $10,000 refrigerator to house fish sperm in South Dakota. Gone too was $7 million for Interior Department aircraft to study bird migration. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood persuaded the governor of Ohio to redirect $57 million for future road-project planning to immediate construction. Cities and states were told to stay away from swimming-pool construction and anything with the word golf in it—Frisbee golf, clock golf, minigolf.
And all the world's makers of miniature windmills mourned in unison.
Sounds like an easy gig, though, right? Not so! Apparently local and state officials in Long Beach, California threw caution to the wind and decided to okay construction work on a bitchin' skate park:
In Long Beach, Calif., local and state officials bucked the orders from Washington. The city council unanimously approved a $620,000 skateboard-park renovation in a rough neighborhood, half-pipe and all. "It's an incredible opportunity," says local councilman Robert Garcia. "This is near and dear to my heart," noted California Senator Barbara Boxer on the Senate floor. Biden's staff has battled to kill the project behind the scenes, and the outcome is still unclear.
If we can't trust Joe Biden to weed out awesome-but-wasteful half-pipe construction from the federal tab, then what can we trust him to do? Still, I'm not worried: The Time article opens with Biden saying that if the stimulus doesn't work, he'll take the blame. Truly, friends, we have entered a new age of accountability.