James Leroy Wilson's blog

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Do you smell a rat?


Quote of the Day: "One of the greatest delusions in the world is the hope that the evils in this world are to be cured by legislation" -- Thomas Bracket Reed

Subject: Smelling a rat

We've argued that the stimulus bill was a money-wasting scam. But even the Title 15 provision designed to prevent waste turns out to be . . . another scam. This provision creates two new bureaucracies, the Recovery Independent Advisory Panel (RIAP), and the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, which we call the RAT Board.

RIAP will have five members appointed by the President, the very person the board will oversee, so can it really be "independent?"

It gets worse. The panel can accept gifts of services and property, and the RIAP's Executive Director and other staff will be hired outside of normal civil service regulations and salary schedules; all can be paid as much as $143,500.

The RIAP will monitor how stimulus money is spent and submit recommendations to yet another new bureaucracy, the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board -- the RAT.

RAT will have a Chairperson and at least ten IGs -- Inspectors General -- several of whom will be desginated by the President. IGs investigate waste, fraud, and abuse. There's an IG office in nearly every federal agency.

IGs are non-partisan appointees by law, but that requirement is not made of the RAT Chairperson's appointment. And no provision describes how the Board's decisions will be made, making it likely the the Chairperson - a political appointee - will wield the power.

At best, the RAT Board duplicates the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency created last year. At worst, the RAT undercuts recent reforms protecting IG independence. The RAT can request an IG to either launch or cease an investigation. The IG can reject the request, but must file reports explaining why. Self-interest would impel IG's to follow the wishes of the RAT Board.

This means that the political appointees to the RIAP and the RAT could serve as an office of Political Inquisition, supporting the use of stimulus funds by politically favored groups, while targeting the use of funds by political opponents. Indeed, if Bush was still in power, many would expect exactly that outcome.

The RIAP and RAT provision was snuck into the scam-stimulus bill at the last minute. According to Byron York, one Democratic Senator said the RAT Board was included in the Stimulus bill because the Obama Administration wanted it. And Sen. Charles Grassley, who was in the House-Senate Conference Committee that produced the final version of the bill, was unaware of it until the day of the vote and didn't even have a chance to voice his objection.

No wonder President Obama wanted to rush the scam-stimulus bill to a vote before anyone could read it, in spite of his promise to sign no bill that hadn't been posted on the Internet for at least five days.

The "Read the Bills Act" would have exposed the RAT in the scam-stimulus bill.

Use our quick and easy Educate the Powerful System to tell Congress to pass DownsizeDC.org's "Read the Bills Act."

Use your personal comments to point to the secret creation of RIAP and RAT in Title 15 of H.R. 1 as another reason why we need the "Read the Bills Act." Mention the comment by Senator Grassley that he didn't even know about this provision until it was time to vote.

Spread this message to your friends, and Digg it on our blog.

Please also add your website or blog to the Read the Bills Act Coalition. We'll return the favor by linking to your page on our blog, and by mentioning it in a Dispatch like this. You can join here.

This week we welcome two new members to the Coalition

Thank-you for being a part of the growing Downsize DC Army.

James Wilson
Assistant to the President

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