Saturday, August 29, 2009

The "secret process" for economic recovery

The Associated Press released a 'news story' in which it claims that a "secret process" benefits pet projects. Yet when you scrutinize the story closer, you'll find that it's not so much 'news' as it is a distortion clearly biased against the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (13.4 MB PDF) (the Act).

The story claims that "a process that is both secretive and susceptible to political influence" is being used for allocating economic stimulus funds. It gives examples of certain border checkpoints getting funds before other checkpoints of a higher priority for improvements do. However, if you read the article with a critical eye, you discover that it concedes there was justification for the order of allocation which was not so secretive after all. A simple Google search shows that there are millions of pages published about how "shovel-ready projects" would get the highest priority. This was a condition established in the Act that was widely publicized long before it was passed.

The story fails to report that there are numerous factors that must be considered when allocating funds to federal projects besides the single five-year-old report (which pre-dated the Act by years) the author cherry-picked to ground her distortion. While the author concedes that federal officials could similarly justify every decision they've made, she clouds her concession with the provocative and deceitful comment that, "they would not provide those justifications to the AP," as if the Feds were intentionally withholding the information from her. The Feds obviously could not give a laundry list of their justifications for every one of their countless projects to a random journalist. Yet her article makes it clear that they did provide her with information on every project she specifically inquired about.

The author is probably one of those poeple who claim that the economic stimulus funds are not getting into the economy quickly enough. Yet she decries the Administration spending stimulus funds on shovel-ready projects first. She's probably also one of those people who complains that the Act didn't result in economic recovery without acknowledging that it was enacted only six months ago and that the bulk of the $787-billion remains to be disbursed into the economy. Like most critics of the Act, she wants to have it both ways.

As far as the "secret process" is concerned, a visit to shows that there is more transparency over spending under the Act than there has ever been for any other bill. But that's a fact that the AP apparently doesn't want you to know.

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