President Obama and VP Joe Biden went to the Transportation Department for a dog-and-pony show to feature the administration’s 2000th transportation program to be funded by the stimulus. They claim the programs are being “approved ahead of schedule and . . . coming in under budget.” The problem: it sort of isn’t true. ABC News is doing its job and fact-checking the Obama administration:
While it is true that there are 2,000 transportation projects that have been approved by the Department of Transportation, there are not 2000 projects underway, as the president’s remarks might lead you to believe.
That of course, begs the question: how many Recovery Act transportation projects actually have begun?
The administration isn’t saying.
And furthermore, states aren’t required by law to post what they’ve actually started until October, so we won’t really know until then.
As for projects ‘coming in under budget’ – that doesn’t mean that projects have been completed, as the phrase would suggest. Instead, the Department of Transportation explains it this way: “Bids are coming in consistently under engineering estimates due to incredible competition for this work.”
They aren’t saying? Well, the new transparency is a lot like the old secrecy, except there is no possible justification — other than the lack of any oversight or any resulting data — to withhold this information, particularly since they are trying to convince the public that the money is being spent in a timely fashion.
I suspect this sort of scrutiny is new to the Obama administration, which got through an entire campaign with precious little fact-checking — whether on its claim to propose a tax cut for 95% of Americans or its claim that John McCain wanted to stay in Iraq for a hundred years. But with the Oval Office and a somewhat emboldened media comes the need to get the facts right and complete — from the get-go. Otherwise the public might get the idea the president is trying to pull the wool over their eyes.