USA Fights the Flood of Money

Edited by Christie Chu

787 billion dollars will be washing over the USA in the coming months. The money should save the country from a difficult depression. But it’s not that easy for the Obama regime: They need a “stimulus czar” to help.

The distribution of money from the economic stimulus package will be a trial run for the American government. With the execution of this package, which will release $787 billion into the economy, U.S. president Barack Obama is relying on government officials and local governments to employ their funds efficiently.

“This is not a blank check,” he said Monday in a meeting with the National Governors Association. “We’re going to work with you closely to make sure that this money is spent the way it’s supposed to.”

For Obama, the stimulus package offers the chance to rehabilitate the image of the public sectors. Since the era of Ronald Reagan, the dominant philosophy in the USA has been that the State should keep out of the economic sector. After the loss of trust in managers and bankers, whose actions led to this financial crisis, the government has stepped in with an infusion of capital for financial institutions and automakers – plus now investments, which should boost the economy.

A variety of people are now working to make sure the paradigm shift occurs. Secretary of the interior Ken Salazar has already built a team who will identify projects worthy of support by early March – and Friday he announced the appointment of a “stimulus czar” who will supervise the distribution of the $3 billion that the department is set to receive. Secretary of energy Steven Chu has chartered and advised the McKinsey manager Matt Rogers to accelerate the processing of applications.

Even the identification of projects is not always easy. Virginia’s Democratic governor Timothy Kaine asked his constituents for suggestions through the Internet; many thousands of wishes were submitted, from the electronic cross-linkage of police cars to the retiree in need of a tax subsidy.

The economic stimulus package will multiply the budgets of some government authorities in charge of special projects. Normally, Virginia receives $4 million per year to insulate the houses of low-income families. Now, this program, which employs both full-time and part-time workers, will receive $96 million.

Opposition party politicians doubt if it will succeed in separating the wheat from the chaff – and they warn against the results of past budget increases. Five Republican governors have announced that they will decline their part of the funds, because is unrealistic to first expand programs for health care insurance, welfare, and education only to drive them back two years later. “This is exactly how addicts get hooked on drugs,” wrote the governor of Texas, Rick Perry, to Obama.

California’s governor Arnold Schwarzenegger called the Republicans to unity. He warned his party members that patients don’t have confidence when doctors fight over the diagnosis. Obama also turned to the opposition on Monday: There is time for an election campaign later.

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