Economics

Joe Biden's Stimulus Fantasies

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Vice President Joe Biden, the czar of overseeing how stimulus funds gets doled out and tracked, is praising his administration's action on the matter. In a recent speech, America's No. 1 Amtrak booster proclaimed:

"The Recovery Act is doing more, faster and more efficiently and more effectively than most people expected."

This, despite the dribble-down-the-chin pace of actual stimulus spending (including direct spending and tax relief, about $151 billion of the proposed $787 billion has gone out the door so far). And significant questions about how and where the money is deployed.

So the AP reports that Biden is happy that some 192 airports have received stimulus dollars but silent about the "50 airport projects that didn't meet the grant criteria and approved projects at four airports with a history of mismanaging federal grants." Similarly, Biden boasted of spending on military bases even as the AP reports

The Defense Department frequently awards no-bid work to small contractors for repairs at military bases under the stimulus, costing taxpayers millions of dollars more than when businesses compete for the work.

Well, any spending is good spending, right, especially in a stimulus situation (Waiter, another lobster!)? And then there's the highway projects, those shovel-ready behemoths that Biden is confident are keeping us safe as we travel, right?

"It is worthwhile to take some of those 5,000 bridges out there that are ready to collapse, follow what happened in the upper Midwest, and fix them," [Biden] said.

But most states are spending stimulus money on bridges that are already in good shape, another AP analysis found. Of the 2,476 bridges scheduled to receive stimulus money so far, nearly half have passed inspections with high marks, according to federal data. Those 1,123 sound bridges received such high inspection ratings that they normally would not qualify for federal bridge money, yet they will share in more than $1.2 billion in stimulus money, the AP analysis published in July found.

That all sounds really great and stimulative and wonderful. And yet, even Biden cannot fully believe that the stimulus won't end up being reckoned to be little more than a massive boondoggle.

[Biden] took a more cautious approach…when asked if his declaration of stimulus success means Americans can now rethink the common view that government is wasteful and inefficient.

"I think it's too early to make that decision, to be very blunt about it," he said.

Full report from AP here.

And don't forget to ask: Can stimulus spending work as intended, under the best-case scenario?

From Reason.tv's vault: Joe Biden, Real Man of Political Genius:

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  1. Hey, anyone else notice that “joe” disappeared right around the time Obama/Biden moved into the White House? Could it be…?

  2. Just heard another stimulus related item on the radio. Demolition Derby people are having trouble finding cars because the cash for clunkers took much of their stock off the market.

    Don’t they have county fairs in Joe Biden land?

  3. The Defense Department frequently awards no-bid work to small contractors for repairs at military bases under the stimulus, costing taxpayers millions of dollars more than when businesses compete for the work.

    That’s flat out fucking bullshit! It’s the big contractors that get the no-bid work. I know, because I have personally bid on some of those jobs. It’s highly competitive. And I challenge anyone to prove me wrong!

    Go here and show me all of these “no bid contracts”. I’d like tosee them.

  4. Come on Gillespie, it’s usually Radley that ruins my Friday. Thanks a lot.

  5. “It is worthwhile to take some of those 5,000 bridges out there that are ready to collapse, follow what happened in the upper Midwest, and fix them,” [Biden] said.

    God bless you Joe Biden, let your mouth fly freely, unburdened by the weight of facts.

  6. I am fuming. Who the fuck is this BRETT J. BLACKLEDGE and what’s his email? God damned, mother fucking liar.

  7. For a brief, shining moment, Nick, you made Joe Biden look good, or at least not completely stupid, which for Joe is not merely good but great. My hat’s off! I didn’t think it could be done!

  8. Breaking news: the national unemployment rate jumped to 9.7 percent in August, the highest since June 1983, as employers eliminated a net total of 216,000 jobs.

    I feel so… unstimulated.

  9. Tricky-

    Why bother bidding on DoD projects? You can prosper without the rent seeking, right?

  10. I’m sorry, did Joe say something? I didn’t hear, I was busy breaking windows.

  11. Joe Biden: Making stupid people feel smarter every day.

  12. To date, the stimulus has saved or created trillions of jobs.

    What, don’t believe me? A you some kind of FASCIST BUSHITLER PIG?

  13. For everyone that has seen news reports of No Bid contracts, there is such a thing as an Undefinatized contract action (UCA) which are rarely used in a non-contingency operation. A UCA is placed before the final agreement is reached between the Government and the Contractor. Even then, in all but the most extreme cases, the Government has received a bid from the contractor. No one likes UCAs in the Government and management bears down hard on them.

    However, it is common to award contracts in a non-competitive environment. It is called sole source acquisitions where the company knows that they are the only ones in the game. It has to be justified that there is a reason for the task to be done by only one company, typically the reason is the military bought a system that developed specifically for them and didn’t buy the technical data for another company to do the work. If an acquisition is going to be limited to one source, a document called a Justification and Approval is written and approved. Recently, it has become required to post this to FedBizOps, the website Tricky Prickears pointed us to. Now they can be reviewed by the world, as they were previously protected info (still are partially redacted). Search FA8217-09-C-0014 for an example. Even in this situation, the contractor has to submit price data which they certify and are reviewed by federal audit agencies when it is above $650,000. The biggest problem is that those audit agencies are getting smaller and smaller as their budget is cut.

    Tricky Prickears is right you can’t find a no bid contract because the phrase “no bid” does not appear in Federal Acquisition Regulations.

  14. No bid may not be the most accurate term in all situations. However, the federal government sets aside contracts for specific groups, small business, minority owned business, etc. These I believe may or may not be competitively bid among members of this group.

    From what I understand of the process.

  15. “And Biden praised the more than 2,400 military construction projects paid for with stimulus money, but ignored the millions of dollars in savings the Defense Department lost because it hasn’t competitively bid many of the jobs.

    The Defense Department frequently awards no-bid work to small contractors for repairs at military bases under the stimulus, costing taxpayers millions of dollars more than when businesses compete for the work, an Associated Press analysis of 570 such contracts found.”

    I actually work in military construction contracting. This is undoubtedly false. Sole source (the FAR term for ‘no-bid’) are pretty rare, especially for small routine work. I have a feeling that AP is confusing this with the large amount of work that gets done using so-called Multiple Award Task Order Contracts (MATOC) contracts. Under those contracts, contractors have to be awarded a base contract under full and open competition, and they get a guaranteed minimum amount of work. Then the government places task orders with only those contractors who have been awarded base contracts. The process for choosing which contractor gets a task order is significantly shorter than putting every contract out for full and open competition.

  16. Dammit, I saw the headline for this post and was sure it would be a slash fic from SugarFree. Color me disappointed.

    I didn’t hear, I was busy breaking windows.

    Through the wonders of automation, my copy of Windows breaks itself.

  17. “For everyone that has seen news reports of No Bid contracts, there is such a thing as an Undefinatized contract action (UCA)”

    UNDEFINATIZED? Good God. I’ll have to start using this word in everyday conversation.

    And what on Earth is an undefinatized contract?

  18. “No bid may not be the most accurate term in all situations. However, the federal government sets aside contracts for specific groups, small business, minority owned business, etc. These I believe may or may not be competitively bid among members of this group.”

    Yes, there are set-asides. These are required by law- that is, the Defense Department has no choice but to comply. Failing to is grounds for a bid protest (a kind of law suit). Most of the set-asides still require full and open competition among the contractors that qualify for the set-aside.

  19. On bad bridges:

    I know from a friend in state government that this country has many large bridges that are in a frightening state of disrepair.

    And I realize that fixing them is not an optimal way of spending money from a dollars-per-vote standpoint.

    But is it possible that KEEPING your bridges dangerous is a way to maximize the number of Federal dollars your state gets?

  20. And what on Earth is an undefinatized contract?

    I’m just guessing here, but I think its a contract that hasn’t been definatized.

  21. I don’t have the link handy but, did anyone else hear about the road in Atlanta that had been paved by the city something like less than 2 years ago and then the state DOT came in with stimulus money and just repaved it again?

  22. Joe Biden’s Stimulus Fantasies

    I dont know about Biden, but my Stimulus Fantasies usually involve 1960s Dianna Rigg or Ann-Margret.

  23. To add to Cal’s comment about Multiple Award Task Order Contracts.

    This is probably what got construed by the media to be no bid. There is a limitation on competition but the companies feel a downward pressure on their price. And the provide a proposal in that situation. Also, it is the only way to spend money fast enough to be actually stimulus. The federal process for awarding a contract takes some time unless a contract vehicle such as the Multiple Award contracts.

    For Small Business Set Asides, they all require competition except for Section 8(a) non-competitive awards. These are firms that the Small Business Administration has identified as needing help to get started. For all others, the expectation of two or more firms submitting proposals is required before setting aside.

    For Wicks Cherrycoke, a undefinitized contract is done when emergency work needs to be done and there isn’t enough time to get all of the terms (such as price) of the contract agreed upon because it takes such a long time in the DoD process. There is a limit set on the amount of money that can be spent and limits on when it has to be definitized. See DFARS 217.74. It can only be used in DoD/military applications.

  24. OBAMA BAGMAN

    700 BILLION DOLLARS

    That is a lot of money. We have been seeing Joe Biden going around the country boasting about how the Stimulus Package is doing so much good. Could it be Joe “Nobody Messes With Joe” is just a bag man for the Liberals (Progressives). We have seen Marcy Kaptur given 3 billion and she will be spending that money prior to the 2010 election cycle. The Census will also be a factor. The Cencus means Redistricting. My self I live right on the boarder of the 5th and the 9th Districts of Ohio and I want a Conservative for my next congressman in the event of Redistricting. There are many who live along this boarder between the 5th and the 9th . We must start now as we must make certain we have good representation come 2011. That will be just 2 months after the 2010 election. I am sending this letter as this may be the most important election cycle in my life and I am certain in yours too. We must Flip Marcy Kaptur. Our votes are not for sale.

  25. todays date: 11th MARCH 2011: 11th MARCH: MADRID RAIL DISASTER DAY: i think ??? 311 eh ???

    DEAR JOE BIDEN: BOB DYLAN is doing FINSBURY PARK, LONDON again: i’ve seen it on his website: i saw him play there back in JUNE 2004 i think ??? are THE BUS TIMES A CHANGIN’ again in TRAVASTOCK SQUARE, LONDON ???? i’m bob dylans greatest bbc radio request writer: i was BLOWIN’ IN THE WIND on a flight from DENVER INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT to ATLANTA HEARTSFIELD AIRPORT when POPE BENIDICT 16th was ELECTED: “ELECTED” is an ALICE COOPER song title: cyber-cafe near TRAFALGAR SQUARE: LONDON: UK: say..med-gen-nick:

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