I know there are some in this chamber and watching at home who are skeptical of whether this plan will work. I understand that skepticism. Here in Washington, we've all seen how quickly good intentions can turn into broken promises and wasteful spending. 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. I have appointed a proven and aggressive Inspector General to ferret out any and all cases of waste and fraud. And we have created a new website called recovery.gov so that every American can find out how and where their money is being spent.
How's that working out? So badly, now, that even David Obey, the liberal Democratic chairman of the House Appropriations Committee is looking to lay the blame on the Administration before it lands on him. A lot of observers have been assuming all along that with the Democrats currently headed in the direction of a very bad midterm election in 2010, Obama, like Bill Clinton before him, would sooner or later try to triangulate the Congressional Democrats, moving towards the center to let them take the fall for the failures of big-spending, big-taxing, big-regulating, big-bailouts, big-favor-giving liberalism. But maybe at some point, they will triangulate him first.
We've already seen how unemployment has just kept getting worse with the stimulus than Obama projected without it (red dots represent the actual unemployment rate, the other two lines are the Administration's projections):
And we've seen how the stimulus is leading state governments themselves into deeper holes, by forestalling tough budgetary choices and encouraging spending on programs that won't have permanent federal subsidies. And now we are seeing a flood of reports, which I summarized yesterday here and here, proving that the skeptics were - if anything - not skeptical enough; not only has one investigation after another turned up bogus claims of job creation or savings, even under the deliberately elastic definition of "created or saved," but many of the claimed savings listed on recovery.gov are supposedly in Congressional Districts that don't even exist. They took $787 billion of our money and sent it to an undisclosed location.
This incompetence - we'll be charitable for now and assume it's incompetence - is too much even for David Obey to bear from his own party, as left-wing activist Greg Sargent reports:
"The inaccuracies on recovery.gov that have come to light are outrageous and the Administration owes itself, the Congress, and every American a commitment to work night and day to correct the ludicrous mistakes.
"Credibility counts in government and stupid mistakes like this undermine it. We've got too many serious problems in this country to let that happen.
"We designed the Recovery Act to be open and transparent and I expect the the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, who oversees the recovery act web site and data to have information that is accurate, reliable and understandable to the American public. Whether the numbers are good news or bad news, I want the honest numbers and I want them now."
Joe Biden, consider yourself messed with.