- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Jobs problems

The government Web site that promised to show exactly where the $787 billion in stimulus spending was going to “create or save” jobs is allocating billions of tax dollars to hundreds of congressional districts that don’t exist.

Researchers at the Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity found 440 “phantom districts” listed on Recovery.gov, consuming $6.4 billion and creating or saving nearly 30,000 jobs.

For example, Recovery.gov shows 12 districts, using up more than $2.7 billion, in Washington, D.C., which has only one district for a nonvoting member.

Recovery.gov also shows 2,893.9 jobs created with $194,537,372 in stimulus funding in New Hampshire’s 00 Congressional District. But, there is no such thing.

The site also shows $1,471,518 going to New Hampshire’s 6th Congressional District, $1,033,809 to the 4th Congressional District and $124,774 to the 27th Congressional District. In fact, New Hampshire has only two congressional districts, inviting confusion about where the money listed for the 00, 4th, 6th and 27th districts is going.

Edward Pound, communications director for the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, said, “Some recipients of Recovery Act funds entered incorrect congressional districts in their award reports. We are doing an analysis of what we might be able to do at this time to correct the problem.”

The burden of reporting information lies on the stimulus recipients, and if they submit incorrect forms there is no penalty, Mr. Pound said.

“The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act set forth all the reporting requirements but is silent as to penalties to enforce the reporting requirements,” he said. Fraudulent forms could be pursued as a crime, but there is no mechanism to deter recipients from submitting inaccurate information through human error.

G. Edward DeSeve, who is special adviser to the president, assistant to the vice president and special adviser to the Office of Management and Budget for Implementation of the Recovery Act, issued a statement about these errors Tuesday, arguing that some mistakes were inevitable and do nothing to disprove the effectiveness of the stimulus.

“Even if as many as 5-10% of the reports or 5-10% of the totals are wrong (and we don’t think it is that high), that still means the Recovery Act saved or created between 600,000 and 700,000 direct jobs in its first seven months - more than most experts predicted when it passed,” he said. “And most leading experts agree that - whatever the recipient reported total should be - the actual number of jobs saved or created is about double that, because the recipient reports don’t include direct payments to individuals, the jobs created by Recovery Act tax cuts, and the jobs created when workers on Recovery Act projects spend their paychecks.”

Friendly fire

The AFL-CIO, the National Council of La Raza and other liberal advocacy groups wrote an open letter to President Obama declaring that the economic stimulus hasn’t created enough jobs and more action is needed from Congress to alleviate the struggling economy.

“Despite an effective and bold recovery package, we are still facing a prolonged period of high unemployment,” it said. “Two years from now, absent further action, we are likely to have unemployment at 8% or more, a higher rate than attained even at the worst point of the last two downturns.”

The coalition, which issued the statement through the Economic Policy Forum, is calling for continued unemployment benefits, extending more money to state and local government, greater investment in schools, transportation and energy, as well as providing credits to small and medium-size businesses.

Perez book

Carrie Prejean was able to get a book deal from the national gay-marriage debate she helped spark during the Miss USA pageant, and the lewd, Hollywood blogger judging the contest who asked her to talk about it is coming out with one, too.

Mario Armando Lavandeira Jr., who goes by the name “Perez Hilton” on the Internet, has regularly called the beauty queen unprintable names and drawn graphic images over photos of her on his highly trafficked blog. Now, he’s hoping people will buy his new book, “Perez Hilton’s True Bloggywood Stories: The Glamorous Life of Beating, Cheating and Overdosing,” which trashes the beauty queen and other big-name celebrities.

“Lots of celebrities are gonna be [very, very angry] after they read this book — and we wouldn’t have it any other way!” he wrote on his blog.

The book will be released Dec. 1, in time for the Christmas shopping season.

Amanda Carpenter can be reached at acarpenter@ washingtontimes.com.

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