Drudge and some bloggers had a field day today due to a misrepresented contract item purchased with over a million dollars of stimulus funds. The way the item was written at Recovery.gov it seemed to say that two pounds of ham were purchased when it meant to say that ham in two pound containers were actually bought by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The tongue in cheek criticism must have touched a nerve as the White House as well as the Secretary of Agriculture actually took the time out of their supposedly busy days to directly comment and correct.
The point is not that the Government is buying ham to give to food banks to feed Americans. That is a worthy goal but is it really a stimulus? One of the problems to date with the $787 billion in funds contained in the bill is that much of it have gone to traditional state and Federal programs rather then those needed to create jobs which was the whole point of the thing. How much canned ham will create one job? It is hard to estimate that.
In another blow to good government the Government Accountability Office (GAO) had at Congress' request looked at how the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) manages its finances. The conclusion is due to the dual nature of funding sources and the multiple missions carried out by the Agency is that it cannot. The FDA gets money from the companies it inspects and the taxpayers. This has caused it to focus more on new product reviews as that part of their mission are paid for by private companies. Taxpayers fund safety monitoring and tracking products in use. If an agency cannot estimate its own budget how can it spend the money it receives properly?
The Obama Administration is dying a death of a thousand cuts on the "stimulus" as different cases are made that the money is being wasted while unemployment continues to grow. The whole point of the bill was to create jobs and that has not happened yet. Maybe it will next year, or the next, but that will not help the Administration regain credibility. There is already talk of a second stimulus targeted specifically at job creation rather then just giving money to government entities to spend as they see fit. Unfortunately time may be running out for that kind of thing with all the money required for Cap and Trade and health care reform.
The national debt is increasing dramatically with no commiserate return in economic improvement the stock market not withstanding. This alone may make it impossible for the Adminsitration to rally support for more extreme spending and borrowing in an attempt to gain some stimulus to the economy. Public opinion, rightly-or-wrongly, is swaying against current efforts and the political effects may be quite strong in the future. Some day all of this borrowed money will have to be paid for by somebody.