Pardon me for lapsing into what I understand to be Twitter-speak in the post title. As I was waiting to pay my bill yesterday at lunch, I caught a glimpse of some blowhard on Fixed Noise bloviating about how the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA, better known as the stimulus package) was "full of waste."
The bloviating blowhard even had a few examples. I couldn't write fast enough to get them down, but I did jot down the total. According to this pundit, there's $5.5 billion in "waste" in the ARRA. Oh, noez! Five and a half billion dollars, down the drain! Wow, that's really wasteful!
I'm sure that's the reaction the Republicans and their bought-and-paid-for propaganda outlet were going for. But let's put those numbers into some context. According to Recovery.gov (where anybody who's interested can go and see exactly how much money is being spent on what, in which places: it even has a handy-dandy link where you can report suspected waste or fraud involving ARRA funds--which I suspect might be where the bloviating blowhard got at least some of his numbers), total ARRA funding amounted to $787 billion. According to my back-of-envelope calculations, that means less than 1 percent of the money invested has been pegged as "waste." By Fixed Noise, so take that with a grain of salt, please. (And if it really turns out to be waste, I have little doubt that the federal government will demand that the money be given back, so they can put it to better use somewhere else. I know for a fact that's what the federal granting agencies are telling people--spend it, and spend it wisely, or we'll make you give it back.)
Now let's jump into the Wayback Machine, shall we? Set the dial to 2005, when an inspector general's report found a total of $9 billion of U.S. funds unaccounted for under the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq. A year later, and another report claimed that as much as $50 billion had been handed out with little or no oversight to various private contractors in Iraq. A year after that, it emerged that our government had flown in nearly $12 billion in cash to Iraq, and could hardly be bothered to keep track of what it then did with those 363 tons of money. (That's how much 281 million greenbacks weigh: almost 400 tons.) Where were the Republicans while all this was happening? Sending college interns, if memory serves, over to Iraq to help hand out that $12 billion--of course making sure that it always went to worthy causes and individuals, naturally.
So the take-home message from the GOP seems to be that anything under $10 billion is "waste," while anything over that amount is "business as usual"--at least as long as it's a Republican in charge of handing it out. As ever, the GOP's rhetoric rings hollow. But I just love it when they make it so easy to fact-check them.