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Even “Sheriff Joe” Couldn’t Stop Wasteful Stimulus Spending

- February 19, 2014

Today, Vice President Biden Is In Granit City, Ill, To Tout The Success Of Obama's Stimulus. "Vice President Joe Biden is touting the merits of the federal stimulus package enacted five years ago, and he's making an appearance in southwestern Illinois to do it. Biden was scheduled to appear with Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx at noon Wednesday at the America's Central Port near Granite City, northeast of St. Louis. He's expected to also highlight what he calls the need for more infrastructure spending." ("Biden Illinois-Bound To Tout Stimulus Milestone," The Quad-City [IL] Times , 2/19/14)

OBAMA APPOINTED "SHERIFF JOE" TO LEAD STIMULUS OVERSIGHT EFFORTS

Vice President Biden Was Appointed By Obama To "Lead A Tough, Unprecedented Oversight Effort" To Hold Politicians Accountable For Stimulus Spending. OBAMA: "And with a plan of this scale comes enormous responsibility to get it right. That is why I have asked Vice President Biden to lead a tough, unprecedented oversight effort - because nobody messes with Joe. I have told each member of my Cabinet as well as mayors and governors across the country that they will be held accountable by me and the American people for every dollar they spend." (President Barack Obama, Remarks of President Barack Obama , Washington, DC, 2/24/09)

President Obama: "Around The White House, We Call Him The Sheriff ... If You're Misusing Taxpayer Money, You'll Have To Answer To Him." OBAMA: "To you, he's Mr. Vice President, but around the White House, we call him the Sheriff -- (laughter) -- because if you're misusing taxpayer money, you'll have to answer to him." (President Barack Obama, Remarks By The President And The Vice President On Transportation Infrastructure , Washington, DC, 3/3/09)

But Even "Sheriff Joe" Was Resigned To Stimulus Money Being Wasted

Vice President Biden, Shortly After President Obama Appointed Him "Sheriff" Joe Biden: "We Know Some Of This Money Is Going To Be Wasted." "U.S. Vice President Joe Biden acknowledged on Tuesday that some waste is inevitable in the spending of a $787 billion economic stimulus package, in a characteristically blunt assessment. 'We know some of this money is going to be wasted,' Biden said during a roundtable discussion in New York with business leaders aimed at promoting the two-year stimulus plan." ("Biden Says Some Waste Inevitable Part Of Stimulus," Reuters, 6/3/09)

DESPITE BIDEN'S BEING ON THE CASE, MILLIONS OF STIMULUS MONEY WENT TO QUESTIONABLE PROJECTS AND OVER 100 CRIMINAL PROBES OPENED

$3 Million In Stimulus Funds Were Spent On A Turtle Crossing. "A report due to be released today by a Republican senator 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." (Peter Nicholas, "Stimulus Program Fraught With Waste Report Says," The Los Angeles Times, 6/15/09)

$1.9 Million In Stimulus Funds Went To Studying African Ants In California. "Scientists at San Francisco's California Academy of Sciences were awarded $1.9 million in stimulus money to research the effects of habitat loss, climate change and pollution on ant populations in East Africa." ("Stimulus-Funded Ant Research Bugs Senators," The San Francisco Examiner, 8/11/10)

More Than $1 Million Stimulus Funds Went To A Non-Existent Congressional District In Ohio. "You might be a stimulus fan, you might be a stimulus foe, but you've got to admire the sweep of stimulus spending in Ohio. It has provided more than $1.2 million and added three jobs in Ohio's 21st Congressional District. Never mind that there is no such district." (Stephen Koff, "Stimulus Is Working In Ohio - Even In Phantom Districts," Cleveland Plain Dealer, 11/17/09)

$712,883 In Stimulus Money Went To A Project For "Machine-Generated Humor." "The National Science Foundation gave a $712,883 grant to Northwestern University for a project called 'Computational Creativity: Building a Model of Machine-Generated Humor.'" (Gregory Korte, "Tom Coburn, John McCain List 'Wasteful' Stimulus Projects," USA Today, 8/4/10)

$219,000 In Stimulus Money Went To Study Female Students' Behavior After Drinking Alcohol. "The National Institutes of Health got $219,000 in funds to study whether female college students are more likely to "hook up" after drinking alcohol." (Alexander Bolton, "Mark Penn's Two Firms Awarded Millions From Stimulus For Public Relations Work," The Hill, 12/09/09)

Problems With The Stimulus Were Considered An "Embarrassment"

An Investigation Into Data Errors And Mistaken Reporting Was Launch During The Stimulus First Year. "The head of the board that tracks stimulus spending said inspectors general on Friday will review causes of numerous mistakes in an October report estimating the number of jobs created or saved by the program."(Louise Radnofsky and Maurice Tamman, "Inspectors To Review Stimulus-Data Errors," The Wall Street Journal, 12/4/09)

  • "There's Enough Embarrassment To Go Around," According To The Chairman Of The Recovery Accountability And Transparency Board. "'I think there's enough embarrassment to go around,' said Earl Devaney, chairman of the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. Twelve inspectors general sit on the board. It's 'clear that the job could have been done better,' he said." (Louise Radnofsky and Maurice Tamman, "Inspectors To Review Stimulus-Data Errors," The Wall Street Journal, 12/4/09)

At The Energy Department Alone, More Than 100 Criminal Investigations Were Launched Into The Way Stimulus Money Was Spent. "The Energy Department's inspector general has launched more than 100 criminal investigations related to 2009 economic stimulus spending. In written testimony prepared for delivery to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee today, Inspector General Gregory Friedman said the investigations have involved 'various schemes, including the submission of false information, claims for unallowable or unauthorized expenses, and other improper uses of Recovery Act funds.'" (Darius Dixon, "DOE IG: 100+ Stimulus-Related Criminal Probes," Politico, 11/2/11)

  • The Department Of Energy Was Overwhelmed By The Stimulus Resulting In "Less Than Optimal Performance." "In summary, a combination of massive funding, high expectations and inadequate infrastructure resulted, at times, in less than optimal performance." (Gregory H. Friedman, Committee On Oversight And Government Reform, U.S. House Of Representatives, Testimony, 2/2/11, p. 6)
  • The Hill Headline: "Report: Energy Dept. Mismanaged Stimulus-Backed Climate Program." (Ben Geman, "Report: Energy Dept. Mismanaged Stimulus-Backed Climate Program," The Hill, 3/26/13)

The New York Times Headline: "DOE Inspector General Questions Renewables Office's Stimulus Hiring, Contracting." (Emily Yehle, "DOE Inspector General Questions Renewables Office's Stimulus Hiring, Contracting," The New York Times, 9/27/13)

Stimulus Funds Were Misused By States Instead Of Boosting School Funding And Protecting Programs. "The Department of Education's inspector general reports that some states are using stimulus dollars to replace money they've cut from their education budget - despite instructions to the contrary. When the Department of Education began releasing stimulus funds last April, it told states the money was to be used to boost funding for schools and colleges and protect key programs and jobs." (Claudio Sanchez, "Report: School Stimulus Funds Not Used As Intended," NPR, 10/10/09)


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