Eye Opener: A 2nd Opinion on the Stimulus
Happy Tuesday! Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) today will release what he calls "A Second Opinion on the Stimulus," a smart title considering his medical background.
The report "contends the Obama administration's stimulus program is fraught with waste and incompetence -- evidenced by a turtle crossing in northern Florida that will cost more than $3 million and a snafu in which thousands of Social Security checks went out to people who had died," reports Peter Nicholas of the LA Times.
"Modeled after a release from the White House describing 100 stimulus projects that were in the works, the report...looks at the same number of projects but reaches starkly different conclusions. Coburn's staff spent about a month interviewing federal officials, reviewing data and compiling news clippings in a continuing examination of the $787-billion stimulus package.
"Millions of dollars are going toward bicycle lockers, bike paths, walking trails and a skate park, Coburn said. One town in North Carolina is using stimulus funds to hire an administrator whose job will be to procure more stimulus funds, according to the report.
"The White House pushed back, trying to debunk the report before its official release. Poring over a draft of the report, aides to President Obama said Monday that the senator's research was flawed and in some cases driven by ideological differences.
"The White House pointed out that certain projects highlighted by Coburn have been stopped. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers put out a statement Monday that it would drop plans to spend $1.1 million to repair a guardrail near a dry man-made lake in the Oklahoma panhandle -- project No. 7 in Coburn's report."
Politico notes that the report criticizes the FutureGen project in Illinois, which Coburn calls the most expensive earmark in history" and "one of the most egregious examples of stimulus dollars being handed out on the basis of politics rather than merit or need.”
As The Post's Kimberly Kindy has reported extensively on the project, which promises to capture 60 percent of its carbon dioxide emissions and trap them underground. The Bush administration killed the plan in late 2007 despite objections from the Illinois Congressional delegation, which included Barack Obama.
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• Cabinet and Staff News: Iran envoy Dennis Ross moved from State Dept. to White House. AfPak envoy Richard Holbrooke visits Pakistan to try to build trust. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke addresses the National Summit in Detroit today.
• RSVP Now: Young Government Leaders host a forum, "Your Relationships and their Impact on Your Financial Choices," Wednesday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the National Academy of Public Administration. RSVP here. Also -- YGL hosts its "Third Thursday" happy hour Thursday from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Mackey's Pub.
• Big Guns Take Aim at Federal Hiring Problem: Peter Orszag, director of the Office of Management and Budget, has put agency and department heads on notice about the urgent need to fix federal hiring. He gave them six months to make progress in four areas that Orszag indicated are only the beginning.
• OMB Allows Agencies to Set Own Performance Priorities: In the June 11 memo, Orszag asked agency heads to identify a limited number of high-priority goals and begin developing strategies to address them.
• VA to Face Lawmakers' Questions on Colonoscopies: Officials face fresh questions about patient safety at a House hearing today after an internal review found continued weaknesses with colonoscopies and other procedures at the agency's medical centers.
• Regulatory Revamp Targets Securities at Heart of Crisis: The Obama administration will seek to overhaul the business of selling investments made from mortgage loans. The proposal would give buyers more information while requiring sellers to share in losses.
• CIA Mistaken on 'High-Value' Detainee, Document Shows: An al-Qaeda associate captured by the agency and subjected to harsh interrogation techniques said his jailers later told him they had mistakenly thought he was the No. 3 man in the organization's hierarchy and a partner of Osama bin Laden.
• Elements of 1960 CIA Report Hold True Today: How an analysis then of Israel's nuclear capabilities applies to nuclear ambitions of Iran and North Korea.
• IGs: State let Blackwater Off the Hook For $55M in Penalties: Penalties were not assessed against the company, now called Xe, even though the contract required Xe to be fully staffed, according to a joint report issued Monday (pdf) by the State Department inspector general and the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction.
• Smithsonian Forensic Anthropologists Unravel Buffalo Soldier's Story: Last month, experts matched a young man's skull with a skeleton exhumed from a New Mexico fort's cemetery, solving a gruesome mystery of looted graves, purloined artifacts, and life and death on the old frontier.
• NASA Will Try Endeavour Launch Again on Weds.: Wednesday is also the scheduled launching date for NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter from the neighboring Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
| June 16, 2009; 6:10 AM ET
Categories: Eye Opener, Tracking the Stimulus
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