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Google Government Accountability Bill Seen as Hope For Reform

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What else is new other than your government misspending your money? How about being able to track them, research them, and hold them accountable? A new bill proposed by Senators Coburn and Obama might do just that. According to Mother Jones magazine, "The Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act, which Coburn has called 'Google for government spending,' calls for a single, publicly accessible Web site that tracks the approximately $1 trillion in federal contracts, grants, and loans 'among other allocations' awarded each year, providing detailed information on the award's recipient, amount, and intended purpose." 

This bill would make it possible to track everything from FEMA trailers rusting in Alabama (read Katrina fix), to the huge toilet and trinket price tags (to name a few) that were billed from Haliburton contracts. These are legally (low) bid government contracts (wink), and then there is pork.

I don’t eat meat, yet pork is a large part of the American diet when it comes to the money that is parceled out to states by virtue of powerful congressman and senators. Take for instance the Big Dig of Boston. This may have well been a needed redoing of that city’s logistical nightmare, or it might have been pork. From its inception, the project has had so many concrete problems Boston's are getting shaky about going under the labyrinth of tunnels that create new breathing space under Boston.

What began as a $6 billion project (1991), now has cost overruns that have more than doubled. Here’s why huge projects become of interest: They become their own worst enemy. Bostonians are now afraid of using some of the tunnels after one section of concrete fell and killed a commuter in her car. Can you blame them? The Big Dig overseers were warned in 1998 that there were problems, but no one listened until concrete was heard falling in a tunnel.

Texas had a linear collider killed (1995) that left a big hole in the town of Waxahachie; the state has proof that problems went beyond just the planning stage. It can be argued that pork was at the bottom of that electron-colliding barrel. Why? Because this was a project other countries and other states salivated over, and would fight to attract to their empty cornfields. But Texas won, then lost, when the project was canceled by Congress.

But according to Mother Jones, “hope for reform comes from a piece of legislation introduced by Senators Tom Coburn and Barack Obama in April and which was green-lighted by the Senate’s Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs in late July.”

The reason groups are holding out hope in this bill is it is being supported by both sides of the aisle. This seems to have become as rare as hair in Washington. Before this bill has even been signed into law, there has been some controversy over a mystery person putting a hold on it. Mother Jones adds:

    Co-sponsored by 29 senators on both sides of the aisle, the bill has garnered widespread support from more than 100 organizations, ranging from Greenpeace to Jim Dobson’s Focus on the Family. However, just as the legislation was gaining momentum, it was blocked from floor consideration by an anonymous hold. 

Mystery solved: On CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight, it was reported that Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) is the one blocking the bill. When asked about this controversial move, his office told reporters that it “was no secret.”

If this was true, then Sen. Stevens was either “not feeling” this bill, or he covered his opinion with his hands. Often when senators are held up as being bipartisan, they are not rewarded for it. This has been cited as the cause for the downfall of Senator Lieberman's (the Pres. Bush kiss poster) not winning his last bid in the primaries for office. Lieberman, to his detriment, supported Bush and the war in Iraq. But when he did not win, he fired back. He has fired his entire staff and now plans to run as an independent in an attempt to win/retain his senate seat, which could be lost this November. Perhaps he should call every Christian voter one by one.

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  • RedTard

    Congratulations, the Democrats should be proud of coming up with this excellent piece of legislation. A central repository for federal (and hopefully city and state) governments to list their expenditures so we know where our tax money is going.

    If the government is going to use fancy electronic surveillance on it’s citizens, perhaps it’s citizens should return the favor.

  • Nancy

    Amen to that. This is a piece of legislation that should and must pass. I’m not surprised Stevens, that perennial sink of self interest, is the one holding it up. “Secretly”. How nice.

  • Heloise

    The Democrats did come up with this. Bingo. They are thinking. We need to be thanking them with our emails to their offices to let them know we like it.

    It is not enough for it to just pass the Senate and the House Americans have to let the legislators know what they do and do not like. It is a relationship that has gone sour because it is no longer two-way.

    Heloise

  • Heloise

    I like the way you think–we should be watching them. Isn’t that a unique concept. People watching their own damn money. That is why I wrote the piece about the billions going to Africa by philanthropers. Should we not question it?

    Heloise

  • Heloise

    Addendum to article: I forgot to mention: You will be able to GOOGLE them to see what they are doing. That’s right Online surveillance of your government. Not really, but you can Google anything related to spending that you have read about, hear about, see, observe, think, or just want to know. I did not list them because obviously the list would be exhaustive. Simple idea, massive impact.

    Heloise

  • Heloise

    “The Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act, which Coburn has called “Google for government spending,” calls for a single, publicly accessible Web site that tracks the approximately $1 trillion in federal contracts, grants, and loans — among other allocations — awarded each year, providing detailed information on the ward’s recipient, amount, and intended purpose. “

    From Mother Jones article

    Heloise