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Obama To Launch Website For Tracking Tax Expenditures

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the government-two-point-oh dept.

Government 358

internationalflights tips news that Barack Obama, in his first weekly address as President, has mentioned plans to set up a website for tracking "how and where we spend taxpayer dollars." Details about the website, Recovery.gov, are available within the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (PDF). The website "shall provide data on relevant economic, financial, grant, and contract information in user-friendly visual presentations to enhance public awareness of the use funds made available in this Act," and will also "provide a means for the public to give feedback on the performance of contracts awarded for purposes of carrying out this Act." The site itself currently contains a placeholder until the passage of the Act.

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But he is still our ruler (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26598099)

When do we get to decide [metagovernment.org] how our money is spent?

Re:But he is still our ruler (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26598185)

Technically Congress decides how the money is spent. But nonetheless yes, something like Metagovernment would take control from the plutocracy/oligarchy and put it in the hands of the people.

Re:But he is still our ruler (1, Informative)

Hal Turner (1459337) | more than 5 years ago | (#26598259)

Your metacommunism is doomed. Have fun, hippies. The Russians tried that and it flopped big time, I'm sure you'll do much better, with your inferior Linux software and godless inter-racial society.

Yours in Christ,
Hal Turner

Re:But he is still our ruler (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26598651)

Just remember Hal, it's 'down the block' not 'across the street'!

Yours in Christ,
Rippy the Razor

Re:But he is still our ruler (5, Insightful)

v1 (525388) | more than 5 years ago | (#26598299)

Although congress decides where it's spent, and the people elect the senators, it doesn't necessarily mean your vote matters a lot in the decision. The current legislative process is so hopelessly bogged down that most spending bills get rubber stamped. Who has time to read through several 800 page bills a week looking for one or two lines of pork in fine print, or do research on the 50 different contractors that are being awarded the contracts? You can't really blame them directly.

I suppose the only two solutions to this problem are (1) to get more senators per state, or (2) to require senators to have a staff of 20 each, whose sole job is to review new bills and provide "cliff notes" for the senators, that catch all the little gotchas that have been hidden.

The problem is the process itself is fundamentally flawed. It was developed for a country in 1776, not 2009, and it didn't scale well enough. Back then, bills were 10 pages long and discussed single issues. Today, to get anything voted on, considering all the things that crop up as bills, they have to wrap 20 different things into one giant bloated bill, each issue of which itself is incredibly more complicated than an entire bill was in 1800. The system itself needs to be redesigned. It'll be interesting to see is Obama will attempt this. But that's what we need.

I also think part of it is the senators and their pork. Despite the modern times, they're still looking out for their individual state, and try to work in their own pork at any opportunity. So to pass an important bill, committees have to stuff in pork for important senators to get their vote, because they're being greedy. Bills that are very popular with the public get really stuffed to the gills because who wants their opponent's political ad next year to say you voted against it? We've seen several cases where a bill that seemed like common sense was having a really hard time making it through the house or senate, and if you read into it, it's because it was so incredibly porked that a lot of senators were doing the right thing, saying "no, that's completely unreasonable". If you follow those threads, they sample the senators before the actual vote, and will slowly trim out the pork until they think it will pass. Or it fails, gets thrown back to committee, where more pork negotiations take place. It seems that very little discussion takes place regarding the actual core issue of the bill. That seems to be how a lot of bills go nowadays. Gives democracy a bad name.

Several times now we've seen those "emergency spending bills" cross over into the next year because they are so incredibly over-porked. "you can't possibly say no to the bill that pays the government for next year? PORK PORK PORK!" But a few times they've held their ground and that's what we get. Absolutely disgusting.

Re:But he is still our ruler (4, Funny)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 5 years ago | (#26598497)

PORK PORK PORK!

The Swedish Chef Goes to Washington.
From what I see on C-SPAN, Congress often resembles an episode of The Muppet Show.

Re:But he is still our ruler (1)

wooferhound (546132) | more than 5 years ago | (#26598775)

Instead of creating a website to show where the money is going
they could just link to this site instead
http://bailoutsleuth.com/ [bailoutsleuth.com]
to find out where the money is going . . .

Re:But he is still our ruler (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 5 years ago | (#26598591)

Despite the modern times, they're still looking out for their individual state

We'd be better off if that were the case, but the bailout shows very clearly that it's not. That useless, senile cow Diane Feinstein joined senators from all over the country to loot us all for the benefit of their campaign contributors.

-jcr

Re:But he is still our ruler (3, Insightful)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 5 years ago | (#26598677)

I suppose the only two solutions to this problem are (1) to get more senators per state, or (2) to require senators to have a staff of 20 each, whose sole job is to review new bills and provide "cliff notes" for the senators, that catch all the little gotchas that have been hidden.

Instead, how about just providing more time for the senators to read each bill! Why would we ever want to expand the federal government to match the bloat at the expense of the tax payer? If they want to process more bills, then they should be compiled shorter or at least broken down in sub-sections to be voted on later.

Read the op? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26598735)

"Only two solutions?" Open source governance [wikipedia.org] is more than just a Wikipedia article. It is starting up [metagovernment.org] right now.

Re:But he is still our ruler (4, Insightful)

Curunir_wolf (588405) | more than 5 years ago | (#26598851)

You can't really blame them directly.

I can, and I do. The processes are in place because they put them there. They don't do anything about it because it serves their personal interest in maintaining power.

If a bill is so large and the schedules so grueling that you can't read and understand what's in them before the vote, then you automatically vote against them. That would have solved one of the problems with the federal (and most state) government which is that there are simply too many laws.

"Pork" is just a euphemism for corruption, and corruption is a huge problem. When you have huge sums of money you can influence, corruption will always be an issue.

You can say that those corrupt politicians are in charge only because they were voted in by an ignorant electorate. There is some truth in that, but the parties have developed a system that ensures that only those on board with the current corrupt system will ever be voted on. The FEC makes sure that anyone with even a modicum of success with a third party will be charged criminally and fined into bankruptcy. And working from within the parties to change things is very time-consuming and it's extremely difficult to make any process at all.

Obama stated in his Inauguration speech that "We need to move beyond the debate about the size of government..." Really? Seriously? I think not. The size, reach, and power of the federal government is the root cause of most of the problems.

Re:But he is still our ruler (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26598315)

Why are our tax dollars being paid to Wackenhut Corp to drive hundreds of empty buses around Tucson AZ in the dead of night? [zoy.org] Assuming it's true (I may get down to Tucson to have a look myself pretty soon), it seems like a terrible waste of taxes.

Re:But he is still our ruler (1)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 5 years ago | (#26598635)

When do we get to decide how our money is spent?

You can be screwed in the ass or sideways in the ass. Take your pick.

Re:But he is still our ruler (1)

PrescriptionWarning (932687) | more than 5 years ago | (#26598663)

I have a feeling that if we had 100% control over precisely where our taxes went for every penny, we'd just end up using it to give ourselves a stimulus each year. What would be more likely is if each citizen had the ability to dedicate say 25% of their total taxes to what they want, and the other 75% can go to where its needed as determined by the government.

Defeat U.S. Imperialism! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26598103)

Not one man or woman, not one penny for the imperialist war! Mobilize workers power on the road to international socialist revolution! Defend Cuba, China, North Korea and Vietnam against capitalist counterrevolution and imperialist aggression! For new October revolutions an a reforged Leninist-Trotskyist Fourth International!

Re:Defeat U.S. Imperialism! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26598167)

Heh. Where do you nutcases come from, anyway?

Re:Defeat U.S. Imperialism! (4, Funny)

WindowlessView (703773) | more than 5 years ago | (#26598263)

Heh. Where do you nutcases come from, anyway?

Fox News: Will manufacture enemies for food and viewers.

Re:Defeat U.S. Imperialism! (0, Troll)

Hal Turner (1459337) | more than 5 years ago | (#26598275)

Enjoy your equal distribution of poverty you communist bastard. Why the hell should I pay my hard-earned money so that somebody else can get a free ride? Fuckers shouldn't have chosen to be poor, it's their own damn fault. Go back to your spic homeland you worthless pinko.

Yours in Christ,
Hal Turner

Explain this (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26598109)

Why are our tax dollars being paid to Wackenhut Corp to drive hundreds of empty buses around Tucson AZ in the dead of night? [globalresearch.ca] Assuming it's true (I may get down to Tucson to have a look myself pretty soon), it seems like a terrible waste of taxes.

Re:Explain this (1)

Farmer Tim (530755) | more than 5 years ago | (#26598245)

Why are our tax dollars being paid to Wackenhut Corp to drive hundreds of empty buses around Tucson AZ in the dead of night?

Because driving at night saves fuel that would otherwise be used to run the air conditioning, obviously.

Re:Explain this (0, Troll)

aliquis (678370) | more than 5 years ago | (#26598539)

Because some idiots thinks buses is a good idea? Personally I hate them, less so for long trips though. But within a city or as commute transport they suck balls, slower than a bike or more expensive than a car...

What we need is small personal electronical transportation devices.

Re:Explain this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26598759)

You didn't read the article? There are hundreds of empty buses being driven without any passengers (or prisoners?) in the middle of the night. Every damn night! Empty! That's the stupidest waste of our taxes I ever saw. We're all paying Wackenhut Corp to waste our taxes on doing nothing productive at all.

Re:Explain this (4, Informative)

GreatBunzinni (642500) | more than 5 years ago | (#26598941)

Because some idiots thinks buses is a good idea? Personally I hate them, less so for long trips though. But within a city or as commute transport they suck balls, slower than a bike or more expensive than a car...

I am an extensive mass transport system user who, every day, benefits from a multi-modal network that involves bus, suburban train and subway system. I use it to not only cover a 40km trip to work each day but also on my off time. In order to gain access to the local mass transport network I need to pay 47 euros for a montly pass. That is 47 euros for unlimited access to multiple modes of transportation. That ends up costing right under 600 euros a year.

Where exactly can you purchase a car for 600 euros a year? Are you able to run a car for a year with 600 euros worth of gasoline/diesel? Can you even maintain a car (insurance, maintenance, etc...) with 600 euros a year? No, you can't.

Overload (1)

symes (835608) | more than 5 years ago | (#26598115)

While I think this (as a non-US citizen) is a nice idea, my experience with Government released information is that those who should take notice don't and the Government risks the very real threat of releasing too much information... meaning even if someone wanted to look somthing up they'd have a hard job finding it in the first place.

Re:Overload (1)

jo42 (227475) | more than 5 years ago | (#26598461)

How long before someone uses this easily available information to perpetuate scams on The People?

Re:Overload (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26598653)

I believe it's more likely that it will be used to post smart-ass comments on the web.

It freaks me out... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26598131)

It freaks me out how much Obama's doing right. It's almost as if I've been elected president, except he seems to waste less time on slashdot and actually gets things done.

Re:It freaks me out... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26598327)

You support wiretapping? You fucking traitor.

Re:It freaks me out... (1, Interesting)

erroneus (253617) | more than 5 years ago | (#26598355)

I almost felt that way until the unconstitutional wiretapping and Obama became more connected. Obama's support for the warrantless wiretapping programs has cast a doubt on everything else. He seemed to be off to a remarkable start until that.

Re:It freaks me out... (3, Insightful)

Kneo24 (688412) | more than 5 years ago | (#26598383)

I'm in the same boat here... well mostly. Not every politican will do everything you like. Most presidents will erode our natural rights to some extent (though some might try to strength others). I would say the warantless wiretapping is pretty damn scary.

Like all politicians, you should take everything he does with a grain of salt. Obama still has the potential to do a lot of good yet, however. I'm not saying we should over look this, but it is what it is for the time being. Maybe we all should take some time out of our bitch-fest here on /. and write some letters? Get active?

Re:It freaks me out... (4, Informative)

RootWind (993172) | more than 5 years ago | (#26598423)

You might want to revisit that story. Somewhere a long the way, the Obama administration putting a stay on all pending cases (including wiretapping) somehow means he "supports" warrantless wiretapping. You might notice Obama has yet to get his Attorney General pick confirmed. So Obama has yet to actually support warrantless wiretapping. Whether he will or will not will be a story for another day.

Re:It freaks me out... (2, Informative)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 5 years ago | (#26598731)

So Obama has yet to actually support warrantless wiretapping. Whether he will or will not will be a story for another day.

Obama voted for the revised FISA even though his vote wasn't needed to pass it.

Obama has yet to actually denounce warrantless wiretapping.
Whether he will or will not will be a story for another day.

Silence is a tacit acceptance of the status quo.

Re:It freaks me out... (2, Interesting)

rawler (1005089) | more than 5 years ago | (#26598789)

As a side-note, FISA in Swedish means "farting" in English. ;) (Yeah, I'm really gonna be that low today)

Re:It freaks me out... (4, Insightful)

Neoprofin (871029) | more than 5 years ago | (#26598505)

Like issuing that executive order on lobbyists to much fan fair and then quietly asking for an exception the next day?

I like this one though, hopefully it'll be as good in practice as it is in theory.

Re:It freaks me out... (1)

Chabil Ha' (875116) | more than 5 years ago | (#26598729)

I think a big part of that practice is not just making the information available, but consumable in an easy way. So, if I want to run my own analysis of the data, it ought to be made available in a standard format so as to facilitate those purposes (ie XML and accompanying schema), as opposed to making it only available through HTML or an Excel spreadsheet.

Re:It freaks me out... (1)

PeeAitchPee (712652) | more than 5 years ago | (#26598913)

Don't forget about Tom Daschle, either. He's married to Linda Hall [washingtonpost.com] , the mother of all lobbyists.

Re:It freaks me out... (0, Offtopic)

brianez21 (945805) | more than 5 years ago | (#26598575)

How can I unmod this thing because I accidentally picked the wrong mod!

Re:It freaks me out... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26598631)

And, he does it with such style. I think the new whitehouse.gov is so much better than the old one in regards to design. (Although credit deserves to go to his web team, I suppose.)

Re:It freaks me out... (1)

spydabyte (1032538) | more than 5 years ago | (#26598743)

Agreed beyond a shadow of a doubt. What freaks me out is how the American people got him elected? When did we become so good?

Will it be a Web2.0 site? (5, Funny)

VampireByte (447578) | more than 5 years ago | (#26598147)

Can we post comments, click on a little thumbs up/down button, have logins where we set up a profile and can choose what picture displays next to our comments (anime schoolgirl, picture of our cat, Karl Marx, Milton Friedman, etc.), connect to our friends (OMG can you believe they won't be funding our ipod museum WTF!!!), blog about what we think about how our money was spent on researching the impact improving a bridge will have on the local sewer rat population...

Re:Will it be a Web2.0 site? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26598173)

Somehow I don't envision any Milton Friedman picture icons in Obama's agenda

Re:Will it be a Web2.0 site? (1)

kbrasee (1379057) | more than 5 years ago | (#26598223)

You forgot the Web 2.0 background-image-with-45-degree-diagonal-lines...

Re:Will it be a Web2.0 site? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26598269)

I dont think this is funny. I think its appropriate. Why not? Why are your comments any more important than someone who wants an ipod museum? Did you participate in change.gov? hunbdreds of thousands did, with moderating and voting up and voting down. It brought issues forward, started discussions and got responses.

Democracy is being responsible to the people. That is a feature, not a bug.

Dozens of people supported the ipod museum (2, Insightful)

coryking (104614) | more than 5 years ago | (#26598739)

But the man kept hitting the "thumbs down" on each proposal. What kind of democracy is it when a dozen people on the internet support the ipod museum and all their suggestions get buried to the ground? I mean, why should any comment get buried?

That is a feature, not a bug.

Hopefully Obama will dedicate 24 billion to eliminating all software bugs everywhere. Those fat cats on wall street have let the bug problem carry on far to long. We need a bug-bailout *and* an ipod museum in every major city (Chicago, New York and Quahog, RI).

But seriously. If the Obama administration manages to pull off a successful, community oriented website during his presidency, I'll be very, very impressed. The moderation challenges alone will be a huge issue. How do you create a platform where

a) Your right to voice your opinion is protected by the constitution.
b) The website should be open to all
c) You want to create *some* kind of community, and to do so means sorting the wheat from the chaff.
d) People will post redundant crap
e) People will cry foul the second your bury their inane "ipod museum" idea.
f) A controversial issue might easily generate thousands of comments.

I tell you where I'd start, personally. I'd break the site into multiple sites organized by agency and topic. That way if you are interested in transit, the website you follow will not get "polluted" by people interested in energy policy.

It *has* to be separate websites, not just sections. The easiest way to kill a community website is to open it up to topics that don't fit with the original ones (like when Digg or Kuro5hin added politics...). With the topics divided by domain, it will keep the heat down by removing the urge to drag off-topic flames into a post. Merged, somebody might inject some nugget about gun control into their argument against solar cars and derail the whole thread.

Bottom line, if they can pull off a series of good, participatory websites hosted by Uncle Sam, my hats off to them.

Re:Will it be a Web2.0 site? (1)

MikeURL (890801) | more than 5 years ago | (#26598455)

What would be fun is to implement a slashdot style voting system. So you'd need good karma, get limited votes and be subject to metamoderation. Applying that to line item government spending would really be cool.

So each line item would have its own page, with comments voted on just like slashdot pages. It would, of course, still be imperfect but it would leverage the crowd better than just cutting and pasting the bills on a website. All bills can already be downloaded and I'm not sure if that helps anyone. To REALLY change how bills are viewed I think there needs to be a new level of online interactivity.

A big flaw in that kind of idea (2, Insightful)

coryking (104614) | more than 5 years ago | (#26598785)

A lot of those line items in a bill don't apply to you or your state. How would you feel if your senator added a line for funding light rail in your region and it was voted down by some jackass who doesn't live in your state? After all, didn't they get their stupid Elvis Museum funded last year? Why should their state get a grant and then have our project get overruled based on the will of random internet users.

Letting random internet users vote on each line item would change the power balance in government. It would let a non representative sample of people influence the government "outside" the house or senate. On the surface, the idea of letting internet users "vote" on bills sounds good, but there would be a lot of unintended consequences. You'd have to re-balance a lot of how government operates before you let people vote digg-style on legislation.

Naw (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26598617)

What he really needs to improve is the bridge *for* the local sewer rat population. Local sewer rats have rights and in the words of PETA--local sewer rats are our friends! He won't build it though, he ran against rat bridges to nowhere. Palin would have built it though, she'd have added three oil pipelines under it and used a Sega Genesis to model it.

OMG I didn't know about the IPOD museum!! I knew he'd never bring change to the government!! THREE THUMBS DOWN!!!

blogspot (0, Troll)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 5 years ago | (#26598163)

Lets see how Obama's naive idealism deals with the stupidity, bureaucracy, and inteptitude of the Federal Government. He may end up "launching a website" on blogspot himself, which of course would be illegal if he was Republican.

Re:blogspot (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26598231)

What a fucking piece of garbage you are.

Get the fuck out of our country.

Re:blogspot (1)

Sabz5150 (1230938) | more than 5 years ago | (#26598289)

Nobody ever said that real change would be easy or done for us. At least the man is pointing us in the right direction.

Re:blogspot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26598387)

What about the cost of the website? Will there be another website for tracking that?

Re:blogspot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26598863)

It's websites all the way down!

Re:blogspot (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 5 years ago | (#26598931)

They obviously will already have all the numbers from budgets and such so I doubt it will cost insane amounts of money.

Destined to the "ungratifying"? (5, Insightful)

smchris (464899) | more than 5 years ago | (#26598183)

The thought might be good. But what percentage of our taxes will be listed as "other" for the NSA, CIA, classified Defense, State and God knows what?

On the other hand, if Americans realize how much is "other", it could be an eye-opener. People will have more to complain about than welfare mothers and mass transit.

Re:Destined to the "ungratifying"? (4, Insightful)

conureman (748753) | more than 5 years ago | (#26598227)

The people who complain about "welfare mothers and mass transit" will continue to complain about whatever their leaders tell them that the "problem" is. They are not capable of realization.

Re:Destined to the "ungratifying"? (2, Insightful)

PeeAitchPee (712652) | more than 5 years ago | (#26598369)

Agreed. Let's also not forget about those complaining about poor people in rural America finding comfort in their churches and exercising their 2nd Amendment rights.

Re:Destined to the "ungratifying"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26598405)

And what realism might that be? That I should support the welfare mom that can't afford a $3 Medicare co-pay for amoxicillin for her kid because she needs to buy a pack of smokes (her words, not mine).

Sorry, I work with welfare mothers every day. I have little to no respect for most of them. There are a few that genuinely need the help, but many don't.

Re:Destined to the "ungratifying"? (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26598597)

And yet, there are those who actually need TEMPORARY help (such as me, a few years ago, when I had a debilitating condition that precluded work until I could get treated) that get turned down because I wasn't a slut with 8 kids or a lazy scumbag. I paid my fucking tax dollars into the system and yet, they weren't willing to help me with a medical bill and food for a month; not even food stamps.

I managed to survive, but I learned a valuable lesson: government won't help those who can't help themselves at the moment, but will be able to eventually. You have to be a true loser for them to even talk to you.

So now I claim as much as possible to avoid having my tax dollars from becoming an interest-free loan for a year, for the government to blow at their discretion. And I now vote Republican whenever I discover a true one running for office (as rare as that is these days).

Re:Destined to the "ungratifying"? (1)

conureman (748753) | more than 5 years ago | (#26598615)

I, too, have little respect for most of "them" (that means practically any group of humans that you could put a label on). My point, AC, is that the afore-mentioned government programs are far, far from culpable in the epic fail that is passing for democracy in the USA.

Re:Destined to the "ungratifying"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26598719)

Sorry, I work with welfare mothers every day. I have little to no respect for most of them. There are a few that genuinely need the help, but many don't.

I take it that you still agree, though, that those, who really need it and don't abuse it, should be able to get help. When there's abuse, the system should be fixed to prevent it, not abolished so that those who don't abuse it, suffer.

This only applies (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26598443)

To this ONE recovery act.

There will be NO listing of the CIA, FBI or NSA budgets...

Re:Destined to the "ungratifying"? (1)

Neoprofin (871029) | more than 5 years ago | (#26598531)

You know you can look up information like that every year when the main budget is released? There are lots of people who do this kind of work independently. The problem with the bailouts is that they're a giant trough of money being thrown at random with little to no review or oversight.

The big debate I notice every year is whether the VA budget should fall under defense/military or health care and social programs.

Re:Destined to the "ungratifying"? (1)

slashdotjunker (761391) | more than 5 years ago | (#26598801)

The thought might be good. But what percentage of our taxes will be listed as "other" for the NSA, CIA, classified Defense, State and God knows what?

There won't be anything listed under "Other". People don't report what they're working on. You've got it backwards. You find a funding source, tell them what you will do for them, then they agree to let you charge x hours to number yyy-zz. Now, if yyy-zz is for building a car, but you actually build a bike instead it doesn't matter. It will still show up on the accounting report as x hours for yyy-zz.

The charge number system is a chain of trust. Adjacent nodes in the hierarchy validate each other; e.g. the top level node cannot validate a bottom node. It would be too costly for every node in the graph to validate every other node. For computer scientists, the scalability is O(n^2). A chain of trust is O(n).

Congress Will Not Like This Idea (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26598197)

I bet that our Congresscritters are not going to like this idea at all--for the very reason that it would actually bring transparency to the appropriations process, exposing all of the pet projects in their home states that they're getting funded. They won't want that info out and available the next time they're up for election . . .

Depends (1)

coryking (104614) | more than 5 years ago | (#26598843)

They won't want that info out and available the next time they're up for election

I voted for my congress critters based on how much money I thought they could get to fund Sound Transit. For me, I'd judge them based on how successful they were at doing that. This website, or any like it, will help me find that information out.

It will also let me know if our state gets a fair slice of the pie. If we aren't I'd blame our congress people, it is their job to make sure we get a fair share--they are elected to stand up for us Washingtonians.

I don't know where you live, but odds are good that many roads you drive on, libraries you use, or city halls you walk into were funded with "pork". What looks like pork to somebody on the outside just might be an important project for your state. As long as the "pork" is spent fairly among states and doesn't bankrupt us, who are we to judge what other states do with their share?

Re:Congress Will Not Like This Idea (1)

Darundal (891860) | more than 5 years ago | (#26598881)

Well, this won't be showing anything that isn't in the current economic stimulus package. But you are pretty wrong, most congresscritters would love for more attention to be brought to their pet projects, because those pet projects usually end up benefiting the people who voted for them or who funded their campaigns. All it would do is help get most of them re-elected.

Technology (4, Insightful)

crumbz (41803) | more than 5 years ago | (#26598199)

What has surprised me about the Obama campaign was how they used information technology effectively to get their message out. These people get it. This administration understands that the majority of the U.S. population has access to the internet, has become relatively informed about the issues and wants to be kept in the loop with respect to governmental decision making. Not to be partisan, but this is quite a change from the previous administration, who made few efforts to directly connect with the average voter.

Re:Technology (1)

Anpheus (908711) | more than 5 years ago | (#26598465)

Few efforts? They only kept the radio addresses and White House Press Secretary out of tradition, not because of some sort of desire to help you or I make better decisions or stay informed.

Well (4, Interesting)

coryking (104614) | more than 5 years ago | (#26598889)

During the inauguration, I got a text message from them asking if I wanted more info about the event. Once I set "yes", I got messages about the weather, where to go in Washington dc and other local info (even though I wasn't there :-). Once it was over, I got a thankyou email from "President Barack Obama" (info@pic2009.org) thanking me for participating.

Their campaign sent out all kinds of text messages and emails, I donated to the Red Cross/Hurricane Gustav by text message thanks to them. It was pretty impressive how much they used this new-fanged inter-tube-text-messaging thing. The fact they took that technology and are now using it for "serious business" is a great sign.

In short, when was the last time you ever got an email or text message from "President George Bush" thanking you for anything?

Re:Technology (1)

edalytical (671270) | more than 5 years ago | (#26598579)

this is quite a change from the previous administration, who made few efforts to directly connect with the average voter.

Which was almost Orwellian, because I remember the previous administration talking about "transparency" as if they were running every decision past the average voter.

Re:Technology (1)

WamBam (1275048) | more than 5 years ago | (#26598923)

I think the Bush administration will ultimately be defined by their uncompromising positions and dogged refusal to tolerate any kind of dissent from within or without the White House. They felt their role as leaders were to issue orders and have others accept them because they believed so unfailingly that their beliefs were always made for the 'greater good'. We know that they did not tolerate anyone that disagreed them on any issue. We know that when presented with information that was contrary to their positions they attempted to discredit the sources or simply ignored what was being said to them. It got to the point that Bush's supporters decided that anyone that was in disagreement with them was somehow unpatriotic and not worthy of being a citizen. How can democracy function if no one is willing to listen to each other, exchange information and compromise? I believe that our system of government works best when there is discussion and debate. My hope for the Obama administration is that they bring about a climate where people want to be well informed and want to discuss issues with others whether it's a meeting of neighbors or well thought out, civil debates on the internet. Clearly, the technology that we have at hand allows us to be smarter and allows us to communicate better with each other. I voted for and support Obama. My pledge is, however, not just to be better informed but to voice my opposition on matters that I disagree with his administration on. Further, I feel it's my duty to listen to, understand and acknowledge the opposition in this country. If Obama can foster this spirit in others, then he will be a great leader.

Great! (1)

16K Ram Pack (690082) | more than 5 years ago | (#26598225)

So, you can see where billions of dollars are being spent on failing car companies. Not that you can do much about it for 4 years.

Re:Great! (1)

falcon5768 (629591) | more than 5 years ago | (#26598435)

Its a sad sad thing that you would be upset about the couple billion spent to save millions of middle to low income workers jobs while HUNDREDS of BILLIONS where spent to give a Bank exec a 60,000 dollar commode.

Re:Great! (1)

16K Ram Pack (690082) | more than 5 years ago | (#26598477)

What? Who said I supported any bail outs?

Re:Great! (1)

Neoprofin (871029) | more than 5 years ago | (#26598593)

What if we're upset about both of them?

I happen to live very close to GM's Janesville, WI plant, and right there you're looking at a town ready to basically be wiped off the face of the map by the GM collapse.

Of course, that's what happens when you have overpaid workers with no barriers to entry. Why should anyone take the time to learn useful skills when they can take a union job straight out of highschool? Their execs did them wrong on a grand scale, but I know plenty of people who's lives are in the shitter right now because took the path of absolute least resistance, knowing it was a unrealistic and unsustainable gamble, and lost.

Re:Great! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26598917)

The thing is it won't save anybody in the long term. In four years time the US car manufacturers will still be in terrible shape and still getting their asses handed to them by Asian & European manufacturers. They will still be losing money hand over fist, and they will still be over-staffed with underskilled, overpaid union workers. Over the next couple of decades those towns in MI will disappear anyway, no matter how much tax money is pored into the car companies.

In the UK Thatcher had the foresight to see that heavy manufacturing was a dead-end for the UK. The US needs to have the same balls to pull the plug and move on.

Please no government transparency! (3, Funny)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 5 years ago | (#26598273)

The government should tell us nothing otherwise the terrorists might get a hold of something valuable and use it to plot an attack against a flag lapel pin factory or something else that will compromise our patriotism and freedom!

Re:Please no government transparency! (1)

ionix5891 (1228718) | more than 5 years ago | (#26598427)

its ok Jack Bauer [guardian.co.uk] will save us if anything

Re:Please no government transparency! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26598453)

I agree. The threat to our children and the sanctity of marriage will be undermined if those freedom hating freedom haters manage to make the government transparent and push forward anti-Jesus stem-cell research in hopes of ensuring that my comment, "I hope he fails", does not come to fruition.

Jesus, that was one sentence? Being a conservative windbag can take a lot out of me :P

Race & Job History (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26598285)

So will the site include race and job history information of money recipients so we can be sure Reich gets his agenda of not giving money to people with actual skills and / or white construction workers?

Robert Reich's Blog - The Stimulus: How to Create Jobs Without Them All Going to Skilled Professionals and White Male Construction Workers [blogspot.com]

Why "recovery.gov"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26598319)

Why not just irs.gov?

Recovery implies you're only going to see the payouts of this one bill. What, 8, 10, 20 years from now this is where we'll go to get our information about how the government is spending our money?

What exactly will complaining about the effectiveness of a plan give you? Doing anything (like trying to retrieve funding) would require another act of congress. Say, for instance, there are complaints about the contraception funding portion, the money will be disbursed over the 50 states and presumably over multiple agencies. If I have problems with a particular agency will congress act because their .05% portion of the overall funding was only 1% of their total budget? If churches come together and make huge complaints about it (what, 30-40% is a safe bet?) Would "action be taken"? Probably not. So only "big" issues with a lot of noise and that are politically acceptable will get investigated. The myriad of little issues will just get swept under the rug.

The plan looks nice, sounds nice... but smella weird...

RTFA (1)

M. Baranczak (726671) | more than 5 years ago | (#26598377)

Recovery implies you're only going to see the payouts of this one bill.

Because that's exactly what will be happening. This website will only show the breakdown for the spending authorized by one specific bill, not for the whole federal government.

Eliminate wasteful spending... (1)

HeyBob! (111243) | more than 5 years ago | (#26598373)

Like having 2 people create a tiny web page where text is an image!

Re:Eliminate wasteful spending... (1)

nbates (1049990) | more than 5 years ago | (#26598491)

There's the same as an alt text. Just hover the mouse over the image.

You almost didn't elect this man because... (4, Insightful)

Mex (191941) | more than 5 years ago | (#26598419)

... he didn't wear a USA flag lapel pin. I can only imagine how 4 years of McCain would've been different.

Re:You almost didn't elect this man because... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26598511)

You're wrong.

Re:You almost didn't elect this man because... (1)

Neoprofin (871029) | more than 5 years ago | (#26598613)

I almost didn't elect him because he's a proponent of big government, throwing my money into sink holes and asking why I would even want those silly freedoms I have. In fact the only reason he got elected is because I know how McCain would have been different, and God help us all if that happened.

Re:You almost didn't elect this man because... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26598655)

Uh, his stated reason for not wearing a flag lapel pin was far more disconcerting than the actual non-act of not-wearing-it.

Still, if he's going to give us some transparency in spending, I'll reserve some hope for this administration.

too large image (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26598459)

It would be nice if the 2488x3216 pixel image at:
http://www.opencongress.org/
could be a bit smaller.

show the gozinta's to see the balance w/gozouta's (1)

shkng (1461225) | more than 5 years ago | (#26598485)

Let's see also, where the money comes into "the US govt", so we can see how far out of balance the overall budget really is (and whether we like where it is). I've always liked the chart where all the inputs (taxes and fees) are on one edge (stacked in a bar graph), with splits and flows to the outputs (expenditures) so in one picture you can see all the flows of $ into and out of the federal budget. Click on parts to drill down. "back in time" arrow to see what happened in previous years / administrations. Flag events (war, 9/11, ) to put into timeline/historical context. I'll be keeping an eye on the link. Thanks for posting.

Will It Include (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26598527)

Will it include race, gender, and job history information of recipients so we can be sure Secretary Reich's goal of keeping money out of the hands of skilled workers and white male construction workers is being met?

The Stimulus: How to Create Jobs Without Them All Going to Skilled Professionals and White Male Construction Workers [blogspot.com]

Change.gov (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26598541)

Launching a website is nothing.

Excellent! (2, Interesting)

Jerry (6400) | more than 5 years ago | (#26598565)

I didn't vote for the man but I agree with everything he's done so far.

Now if he can just get Universal Health Care going, and bring home our troops from ALL the nations where they are deployed, and redeploy them along our boarders to curtail drug traffic and illegal immigration I would be even more happy.

Death and taxes (1)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 5 years ago | (#26598619)

I think the gov should blatantly rip off the deathandtaxes website for their actual budget as well. Why stop at having super oversight of just the recovery money? This would work brilliantly for the budget as well.

You know... (1)

rebel13 (973392) | more than 5 years ago | (#26598717)

Hah. So, the two most fiscally conservative presidents in the past two decades may turn out to be *gasp* DEMOCRATS!

Misdirection - look at what is ABOUT to be spent (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 5 years ago | (#26598751)

It's awesome to look at where tax dollars are being spent. But wouldn't it be better not to have so many things to have to look at?

Take the "stimulus" bill that hardly spends any money this year (you know, when stimulus would seem to be required to actually help anyone). Happily thanks to third parties you can see just what kind of boondoggle is underway, and try to speak about about just what kind of pork is being lathered on a massive government spending increase:

ReadTheStimulous.org

We need openness BEFORE as well as after money is spent.

The Contractor will be Slashdot! (1)

lumvn (1000600) | more than 5 years ago | (#26598811)

All this posting like we need some kind of system like Slashdot.... I hope you have an avenue to the bidding process....

Publish the data (2, Interesting)

RegTooLate (1135209) | more than 5 years ago | (#26598841)

The government needs to make sure that they post actual data in a portable format like XML. The EPA publishes emissions data http://camddataandmaps.epa.gov/gdm/ [epa.gov] in portable XML formats for scientist and the public to use the data as they need. For example, http://www.govtrack.us/ [govtrack.us] uses publicly published data to deliver a complete service. Having the data available as a feed or a series of published data files instead of some static website enables everyone else to see the details and deliver meaningful content.

way too much government spending in this package (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26598869)

I'm an Obama supporter, but I think this bill is a mistake. Too much government spending in a short period of time leads to three things: waste, fraud, and abuse. We will get a feeding frenzy of lobbyists in every capital, pork barrel projects, sweetheart deals, and shoddy construction work. It is a perfectly predictable outcome.

On top of that, there will be shortages of certain parts and specialized labor leading to inflated costs, because government is competing against itself.

The President says there will be no pork and no earmarks... what else is new. EVERY administration announces that when they roll out their first budget. You can look back and see how that worked out. Congressmen and state legislators do not stop being politicians just because the economy is in crisis.

Here's an idea which has probably already come up behind closed doors, but perhaps this can be used as a baseline (call it the "Real Simple Recovery Bill"). Scale up the Bush tax rebate bill and add a taper to make it moderately progressive:

Reported income $50K and under: $4000 tax rebate
$150K and over: $1000 tax rebate
In between: pro-rated, e.g. $90K gets $2800

The rebate would not be issued in one big check, but would be staggered in perhaps six equal installments on a schedule like this: Feb 09, Mar 09, May 09, Aug 09, Dec 09, May 10. The intervals follow an arithmetic progression, to discourage people from depending on these rebates as a regular source of income.

People living hand to mouth will likely either spend their checks as soon as they get it (good, that's a stimulus) or use it to pay down debts (even better, that reduces the current hurt on banks). Wealthier people tend to save more and spend a smaller percentage of their income, which isn't as helpful, but they still get a substantial rebate so they can be part of the program.

Pros:

- money gets pumped into the economy immediately
- some consumer debt gets paid off
- a "natural" stimulus that relies on the market to determine worthwhile goods and services
- everybody who filed a tax return gets a benefit
(unlike the Bush rebate which was restricted)
- lower income folks get a hand up
- no new pork barrel programs, no room for lobbyists
- easy to understand and administer
- plan could be extended into late 2010 if necessary

Cons:

- stokes the budget deficit (but so does every other serious proposal)
- not a "visionary" proposal
- doesn't address clean energy, weak schools, highway infrastructure, etc.

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