The names have been changed to protect the guilty
By Michael M. Bates
These days, Barack Obama would rather talk about his birth certificate than use the word "stimulus." At the press conference that wouldn't end last week, Obama was asked if his latest and greatest spending proposal amounted to a second stimulus. He answered, "There is no doubt that everything we've been trying to do is designed to stimulate growth and additional jobs in the economy," but adamantly avoided the dreaded s-word.
That's understandable. The roughly trillion-dollar stimulus enacted by Obama and his large Democratic majority in Congress has become nearly as big a national joke as Obama himself.
It was an ACORN-sized scam from the beginning. When success is to be substantially measured in "jobs saved," a criterion that's unprovable, you know that they know how preposterous their scheme is.
And then there was the matter of oversight. To make certain that bundle of bucks was spent prudently, Obama designated his very own Sheriff Joe: Biden. "To you - he's Mr. Vice President," said Obama, "but around the White House we call him 'the Sheriff'- because if you're misusing taxpayer money, you'll have to answer to him."
Left unexplained was precisely how anyone could answer to Biden. The notoriously loquacious Biden pretty much makes it impossible to get a word in edgeways.
It doesn't seem as though the Sheriff's been pulling out his plugs in frustration, despite no shortage of stimulus horror stories. $6 million given to an ad agency created three whole jobs. $100,000 to a left-leaning theater to support socially conscious puppet shows. Another hundred thou for a martini bar and a Brazilian steakhouse. $1 million to a dinner cruise company to supplement its anti-terrorism plan. $2 million for a replica railroad to attract tourists.
If Obama and his accomplices were sincere in wishing to evaluate their stimulus, they'd stop talking about a mythical jobs saved number and look to the unemployment rate. The month Obama signed the stimulus into law, unemployment was 8.1%. Now it's 9.6% and Barry's chief economic adviser predicts it's not going down anytime soon.
It'll be interesting to see what word Obama will employ now that the s-word has fallen into disfavor. He probably has his worker bees looking for a worthy successor. In government, that's what happens. Terms that have a stench justifiably associated with them are merely replaced even though the program remains much the same.
You remember the food stamp program. Yes, that food stamp program. After most of the public – even dull-witted Democrats – realized all the fraud and waste it involved, a makeover was necessary. So now the food stamp program is gone. It's transitioned to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
Then there was the infamous Aid to Families with Dependent Children, better known as AFDC. That has become Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF.
The Interior Department's Minerals Management Service was criticized for its handling of the Gulf oil spill. In 2008, the department's inspector general reported that some employees "used cocaine and marijuana, and had sexual relations with oil and gas company representatives." Oh, and some of them "accepted gifts with prodigious frequency." On the bright side, sick leave abuse didn't seem to be much of a problem.
Interior secretary Ken Salazar understood prompt, firm action was required. So in June, Mineral Management Service was no more. It's now known as the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement. I don't know about you, but that new and improved name makes me feel better all over.
The Federal Job Training Partnership Act (JTPA) took the place of 1973's Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA) in 1982. CETA had been widely discredited for its ineffectiveness and fraud. Indicative is an early report prepared for Sen. Sam Nunn (D-GA). It was titled "Strong Internal Controls at Service Delivery Level Will Help Prevent CETA-Type Fraud and Abuse in Job Training Partnership Act Programs."
The new name didn't change much. CETA-type fraud continued. JTPA brought just as many hoaxes and as much waste. Moreover, it supplied welfare to some of the largest companies in America. McDonalds, Radisson, McDonnell Douglas, Toyota and Subaru were only some of corporations that took advantage of the government's generosity.
JTPA trained people for jobs for which they were already qualified, paid to teach cab drivers to smile at their customers, and gave money to students to put on a puppet show. That government money-puppet show link really needs further investigation.
After years of such shenanigans JTPA, like its predecessor CETA, faded away. Of course, it didn't totally disappear; it was replaced with the Workforce Investment Act of 1998.
So Obama shouldn't have much difficulty in swapping the s-word for something more palatable. He fooled enough people to be elected and it's evident their naiveté is boundless.
Spending more of someone else's money has as much appeal to them as it does to him. It's the only utensil in the community organizer's toolbox. It's always been the only utensil in the community organizer's toolbox.
Michael M. Bates is a regular contributor to Enter Stage Right. His web site can be found at http://www.michaelmbates.com/.