The Obama administration has talked of an intention to put the stimulus bill online for the American people to read before it’s voted on, which is commendable.
But where is it? Apparently in the same place as the press briefing transcripts. Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was asked about when the bill would go online, and replied that it would be available between the time the bill is in its final form and when President Obama signs it.
As Gibbs and anyone with a passing interest in politics knows, that’s around about the exact time that having it online will no longer matter. The American people will not be able to make much of a difference in the crafting of the bill at that point. All of the negotiations will have taken place. All the pork will have been traded. All the boondoggles agreed upon and on their way to the President’s desk before the American people get a look at much of it.
If you want a look at it before everything has been decided, a group of right-leaning bloggers and organizations offers a searchable version of the 1,500-page stimulus at ReadtheStimulus.org. Read more than a few pages, and I can almost guarantee you’ll be ahead of your representative in Congress. And, you may even find a few gems that Obama will direct Democrats to jettison, just as he did the millions for contraception.
That should be the Republican strategy for getting most ridiculous liberal provisions jettisoned, by the way. Have Nancy Pelosi pitch each idea in the most unpleasant, tin-eared way possible on the Sunday shows and pile on with criticism until Obama backs away from the idea, as he will from anything that’s mildly politically unpopular, especially with this first, important bill.
On January 21, President Obama signed an Executive Order requiring ethics commitments for officials of his administration. As has been covered here, that commitment has already been compromised.
Interestingly however, the ‘Ethics’ section of the White House website went down that day, ostensibly to be updated to reflect the president’s initiative. Six days later, that page is still down. Go there today and you find this message:
The ethics section is currently being revised to reflect President Obama’s Executive Order concerning Ethics Commitments by Executive Branch Personnel, issued on January 21, 2009. Please check back soon.
Six days later and the website still hasn’t been updated? This EO has been in the works for months. Furthermore, none of the other ‘agenda’ pages has been pulled down. According to Roll Call, this is what you found on the page before it went dark:
…the new White House Web site — launched just after President Barack Obama was inaugurated Tuesday — included a list of ethics reform proposals that would apply to Congress, including new earmark disclosure guidelines, requirements for public mark-ups of legislation and a call for a new Senate office to investigate ethics complaints. The last idea had been voted down in the Senate during the 110th Congress.
I wonder why it’s down for such a long time — at least in Internet terms — and what will (or won’t) be there when it goes back up.