Category Archives: Government Transparency

Feds to Launch New Comedy Site

From FinancialStability.gov (props):

Banner: Financial Stability.gov

This site is coming soon.

On Tuesday, February 10th, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner outlined a comprehensive plan to restore stability to our financial system. In the address, Secretary Geithner discussed the Obama Administration’s strategy to strengthen our economy by getting credit flowing again to families and businesses, while imposing new measures and conditions to strengthen accountability, oversight and transparency in how taxpayer dollars are spent. And Secretary Geithner explained how the financial stability plan will be critical in supporting an effective and lasting economic recovery.

For more information, please visit http://www.treas.gov/initiatives/eesa/


I think it’s safe to assume that this website will provide as much sarcasm and laughter as when Obama officials  met with federal legislators the other day:

Administration officials were greeted with sarcasm and laughter Monday night when they briefed lawmakers and congressional staff on Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner’s new financial-sector bailout project, according to people who were in the room.

The laughter was at its height when Obama officials explained that the White House planned to guarantee a wide swath of toxic assets — which they referred to as “legacy assets” — but wouldn’t be asking Congress for money. Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA), a bailout opponent in the fall, asked the officials to give Congress the total dollar figure for which they were on the hook. The officials said that they couldn’t provide a number, a response met by chuckling that was bipartisan, but tilted toward the GOP side. By guaranteeing the assets, Geithner hopes he can persuade the private sector to purchase a portion of them.

The major problem is that our overdose of federal financial intervention isn’t really a laughing matter.

Blagojevich Gets the Boot

Fox News Reports:

Illinois senators stripped Gov. Rod Blagojevich of power Thursday in the final act of a political drama that handed the reins of state government to his estranged lieutenant governor, Pat Quinn, and likely will end Blagojevich’s career in politics.

Senators voted unanimously to convict Blagojevich and bar him from holding political office in the state again. Shortly after the vote, Quinn was sworn in as Illinois’ new governor.

The outcome was never in doubt. In fact, Quinn went to the state Capitol earlier in the day to prepare to be sworn in.

I haven’t been following this story as closely as others but the fact that only one person in either house of the Illinois Legislature voted in support of the Governor tells me that they really had the goods on the guy. It’s not often that legislators agree on anything particularly in matters of impeachment which are usually decided along party lines.

House Republicans Grow Some Cajones

The big news isn’t the stimulus package just passed the House, but that Obama’s “bid to woo Republicans failed to convince even a single GOP member to join Democrats to back the bill.”

“I can also promise that my administration will administer this recovery plan with a level of transparency and accountability never before seen in Washington,” said Obama in a statement from the White House. ” Once it is passed, every American will be able to go the website recovery.gov and see how and where their money is being spent.”

I’ll not hold my breath on the transparency, as we still have no idea where a good chunk of money from the previous bailout went.

While I’m sure a handful of Republicans opposed the bill on principle, it’s at least refreshing for it to be politically expedient for the rest of them to cast a “no” vote on one of the worst fiscal bills of my lifetime.  Unfortunately, it seems the only way to get the GOP to pretend to be responsible stewards of our tax dollars is for the Democrats to be in control.

This bill can’t be considered a bipartisan bill with no Republican support (and 11 Democrats voted against it, too).  It’s your political hot potato now, Democrats.

Change Libertarians Can Believe In?

There’s no secret that most of the Obama Administration agenda is at odds with the Lockean rights of life, liberty, and property at almost every turn. Obama’s views on freedom are more along the lines of FDR’s so-called “Four Freedoms”. As disturbing as this agenda is, I thought it would be important to identify policies which actually do promote liberty based on the more traditional Lockean model.

These agenda items are the only ones I can at this point say I am comfortable with. There are probably more items I could support but without knowing the details of many of Obama’s policies, I’m hesitant to do so (mostly due to his reliance on doublespeak, i.e. redefining welfare as tax cuts). The two most promising policies I have found so far are in the areas of civil rights and ethics.

Civil Rights:

Eliminate Sentencing Disparities Between Crack and Powder-Based Cocaine

Expand the use of drug courts for first-time non-violent drug offenders

Equal Rights for LGBT couples

Repeal the Defense of Marriage Act

Repeal “Don’t Ask-Don’t Tell”

Ethics:

A More Open and Transparent Federal Government (complete with searchable internet databases)

“Sunlight Before Signing” – Five days for the general public to review “non-emergency”* legislation before bills are signed into law.

The Transparency and Integrity in Earmarks Act – A law which would name names of legislators and the earmarks they request, require written justification for the earmark, and require 72 hours for the full senate to review and approve the earmark.

Make all White House Regulatory Communications Public and Release Presidential Records

Protect Whistleblowers

Eliminate Inefficient Government Programs and Slash Earmarks**

Libertarians, myself included, may be disappointed that these libertarian friendly policies do not go nearly far enough. Having said that, I do believe we should encourage these changes even if they are mere baby steps in the right direction.
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