Stimulus Bill To Go Web 2.0?


People have been clamoring for more transparency in the presentation of bills since the TARP recovery program was shoved through Congress with little time for the public to have a say. And most people, while perhaps supportive of the recovery program and many of the bailouts, are not happy with the way the legislation was passed. That’s why this tune from the incoming Obama Administration and Congress regarding the stimulus package is refreshing. According to ABC News:

Democratic and Republican sources tell ABC News that President-elect Obama’s meeting with the bipartisan congressional leadership of the House and Senate went well with some quick agreement on the need for expeditious action as well as oversight and transparency for the pending, yet-to-be-drafted multibillion dollar stimulus package.

House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, argued that public dissatisfaction with the Troubled Asset Relief Program money to help stabilize the nation’s financial systems and the way it was rammed through the Congress demands more transparency and accountability with the stimulus bill.

“I agree with you,” the President-elect said, adding later that he would “demand complete transparency and accountability in doing it.” ยท

House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, R-Vir., suggested said the bill should be put on the Internet a week before Congress votes on it.

Mr. Obama smiled and said something along the lines of, “maybe if I was better at faking it , I’d say, ‘Great idea — we’ll take you up on that.’ But we’ve actually talked about this idea.”

Obama turned it over to incoming White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel who essentially said they would do the Republicans one better. They’re planning a Google-like search function to show every program funded by the stimulus package, whether it comes in under or over-budget, whether it is meeting its intended purpose, and how many jobs it is creating.

Far too often do people hear about the bills passed by Congress, but they have little ability to see the success and progress of programs created. Adding transparency and accountability to legislation like this is a terrific step forward (if it happens, of course) and in direct opposition to the course taken by the Fed and Treasury in handling the bailout money.

(Hat tip to Jason Mercier at the Washington Policy Center’s Blog)