For Congressional Democrats, it never rains, but it pours. If they thought their votes for the ‘stimulus’ bill might look better with time, the White House has some bad news.
National Journal has posted a transcript of its interview with ‘stimulus’ overseer Earl Devaney. If you opposed porkulus, the interview is as frustrating and entertaining as you’d expect. If you voted for it, you might want to brush up that resume and look for new opportunities:
NJ: Tell us about how you came into this job and what it is.
Devaney: …The other mission is sort of less intuitive, and it is quite a mystery to me why Congress would think the building of the government’s largest Web site ever would be something that 12 IGs could do. I think at the end of the day, they said to themselves, what group of people would be more guaranteed of getting the data up — good, bad or ugly, whatever it is — up on this Web site.
So, right now, we have a Web site up and running. We don’t envision what is up there now, which we call 1.0, is what the act envisions. Nor is it something that I’m particularly proud of…
NJ: Isn’t transparency sometimes dangerous to those in power?
Devaney: I think politicians have got their heads around the good sides of transparency. What they haven’t got their minds around is the downside of transparency. Come October 11, there are going to be things up on that Web site that embarrass people, clearly. I don’t think it is one party or the other. Everyone is going to be embarrassed to some extent.
NJ: What about the potential that this flood of data will be used by opponents of the president, or the stimulus plan?
Devaney: I thought about that two months ago. It is kind of a scary thing to think about. We could start, I don’t want to say a revolution, but we could start a big kerfuffle in this town in October. If you think the political environment right now is ablaze, I’m assuming that people will see a lot of good things when they see this [as well as bad things]. I think that it is going to take a while for the American psyche to understand that this has been going on forever. What they are going to see in October, those that have worked in government long enough — I know the way this spending looks, because I’ve seen the underbelly, but I don’t think the American people have seen it yet. It is a sausage factory.
NJ: Can you talk about trends you are going to see? Any sense of that yet?
Devaney: What is a risky program? Well, I’m not going to tell you the names of risky programs, but I will tell you in general that it is not necessarily the program that gets the most money. What really sends our risk flags up are new programs. Programs where there is a ton of money going into a new program where the infrastructure is not in place, where the controls of money are not in place, where they are sort of beginning from scratch. And when you dump money into that — weatherization, for instance, or broadband…
NJ: You work pretty closely with Joe Biden, don’t you?
Devaney: Well, here is the deal. If you were to ask me who I speak to in the administration, it is Vice President Biden. He is in charge of the recovery. So, I meet with the vice president once a week. It is alone, it is in his office, it is for an hour. But our relationship is very much like the relationship I’ve always had with [department] secretaries that I’ve worked for. I consider myself independent. I’ve told him that. Certainly the board of 13 IGs is an independent entity; we don’t work for the administration. He understands that. Like every secretary I’ve worked for, I’ve told them a couple things: that I’m here to tell them what they need to know, not necessarily what they want to know, and the second premise, is I will make them mad. Somewhere along the line I will make you mad, I want to tell you that up front. That was noted, and he hasn’t gotten mad.
NJ: Does the vice president really have operational supervision of this recovery?
Devaney: Oh absolutely, I think so…
So let’s do a quick assessment here: the American people already believe the ‘stimulus’ was a waste of money that failed to create jobs. They’re probably getting angry that the President is lying to them about it. Democrats are panicking when they see how angry voters are about health care rationing, cap-and-tax, and porkulus.
And now the transparency czar comes out to warn anyone who will listen that the American people are likely to be really angry when they learn how their money is being spent. Does anyone really believe they’ll be equally angry at everyone, or is it just possible that they remember that barely a single Republican voted for it?
On – I mustn’t forget the last bit of worrisome news for Democrats: Biden is on it.