Stimulus bill spending has slowed to a trickle, despite President Obama’s June order to his Cabinet to speed it up.
The average stimulus spending per week has dropped severely, to just $4.2 billion over the past month from $9.7 billion during the prior four months. The government spent $2.9 billion in the week ending Aug. 7.
Taxpayer groups say the numbers show spending decisions are random and prove that the $787 billion stimulus program has had no effect on the economy.
“This is a typical bureaucracy. They don’t operate in an efficient way. They can’t operate in an efficient way and make an impact,” said Leslie Paige, media director for Citizens Against Government Waste.
The spending has slowed despite Mr. Obama’s declaration in June that he was “not satisfied” with its pace, and his demand that his Cabinet secretaries accelerate the distribution of stimulus funds.
The White House said the rate doesn’t matter, and that the key is whether Mr. Obama’s overall targets will be met.
“Week-to-week measures are irrelevant,” said stimulus spokeswoman Elizabeth Oxhorn. “We remain on track to meet the ambitious goal that the president set in June: speeding the Recovery Act’s pace, so that $225 billion is obligated by the act’s 200th day.”
Spending as of Aug. 7, the 172nd day since Mr. Obama signed the bill, stood at $200 billion obligated. To meet the goal of $225 billion, the government will have to spend nearly $1 billion each day over the next four weeks — or nearly double the pace of the past four weeks.
But taxpayer groups fear those sorts of deadlines can force agencies to spend money on wasteful projects, and states and localities say one reason the rate of spending is slow is because they need to meet all the transparency and productivity requirements imposed by Congress and the Obama administration.
In June, Mr. Obama recognized that spending was lagging and told his Cabinet to flood the economy with stimulus money.
“I’m not satisfied,” he said.
Early last month, though, he said he’d always figured spending would be a longer-term project, and said the stimulus bill was working as he’d expected.
Still, some Democrats in Washington are worried. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman James L. Oberstar, Minnesota Democrat, sent letters last week to Florida, South Carolina and Hawaii chiding them for spending transportation money too slowly.
But the states took umbrage at the charge, saying they are following all the rules laid out by Congress and the administration.
Hawaii officials said they wanted to spend the money on major infrastructure projects such as bridge repairs that would produce jobs for years. They said that seemed a better use than the quick repaving projects that have received stimulus money elsewhere, and produced jobs that lasted only several weeks.View Entire Story
Stephen Dinan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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