Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Jobs Saved or Created in Congressional Districts That Don't Exist

ABC News, not exactly the greatest critic of the Obama Administration points out a fairly big error by the Obama White House:
Here's a stimulus success story: In Arizona's 15th congressional district, 30 jobs have been saved or created with just $761,420 in federal stimulus spending. At least that's what the Web site set up by the Obama administration to track the $787 billion stimulus says.

There's one problem, though: There is no 15th congressional district in Arizona; the state has only eight districts.

And ABC News has found many more entries for projects like this in places that are incorrectly identified.

Late Monday, officials with the Recovery Board created to track the stimulus spending, said the mistakes in crediting nonexistent congressional districts were caused by human error.

"We report what the recipients submit to us," said Ed Pound, Communications Director for the Board.

Pound told ABC News the board receives declarations from the recipients - state governments, federal agencies and universities - of stimulus money about what program is being funded.

"Some recipients clearly don't know what congressional district they live in, so they appear to be just throwing in any number. We expected all along that recipients would make mistakes on their congressional districts, on jobs numbers, on award amounts, and so on. Human beings make mistakes," Pound said.
There are three things that jump out at me.

1. The Obama Administration is quick to blame someone, anyone else for a mistake. This time they cite that "some recipients" (a nice non-specific way to blame someone without actually naming them) don't know what congressional district they live in. After nearly a year in office, this Administration routinly blames the Bush Administration for its problems and difficulties. Clearly this is another problem to blame on the Bush White House.

2. The Obama Administration is apparently staffed with a bunch of low level incompetents, otherwise, this kind of mistake gets caught. I will admit that not everyone walking the street knows how many Congressional Districts are in each state, but someone working for the White House should know how to do a basic fact check. Such an oversight cannot be excused nor should it be blamed on some junior staffer or website manager. Someone should have proofed the information and didn't and there is no one to blame but the White House.

3. What we have here is almost a Potemkin Presidency. The Obama Administration will sacrifice just about everything--even common sense and accuracy--to look good. I fully understand the desire to put a good spin on matters, particularly economic matters when citizen confidence in the soundness of the economic plays a big role in the actual soundness of the economy. But seriously, there has to be at least a shred of fact behind the spin or it is false front. We have more of a false front than we have a genuine leader right now.

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