A powerful House Democrat used unusually harsh terms to blast the Obama administration's manipulation of stimulus data Monday night, and demanded an honest accounting of results from the $787 billion government program.
Rep. Dave Obey (D-Wis.), who chairs the House Appropriations Committee, took the administration to task for pervasive errors on the Web site designed to monitor disbursement of the stimulus funds. He called those errors "outrageous."
"Credibility counts in government and stupid mistakes like this undermine it. We've got too many serious problems in this country to let that happen," Obey said in a statement. "Whether the numbers are good news or bad news, I want the honest numbers and I want them now."
Obey demanded a commitment from the executive branch that they would "work night and day to correct the ludicrous mistakes." Congress and the public should be able to trust reports by the Recovery Accountability and Transparency (RAT) Board, he said.
The administration has already slashed 60,000 jobs from its estimates of how many jobs were created by the stimulus, after discovering "unrealistic data" submitted by stimulus recipients. In one extreme example, the stimulus Web site reported that 50 jobs were created or saved by an Arkansas cemetery's purchase of a lawnmower for roughly $1,000.
Republicans have also pounced on the administration's stat-juking. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), the ranking Republican on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, decried the "grossly inaccurate" information disseminated by the stimulus Web site in a letter to RAT Board Chairman Earl Devaney. If the transparency board can't certify that the stimulus has indeed saved or created 640,329 jobs, Issa wrote, the stimulus Web site should carry a disclaimer stating that its figures are unreliable.
Devaney will appear before the oversight committee Thursday during a hearing on tracking stimulus funds.