Watching the Stimulus

So much for helping people in real need.

Uncertainty over new health safety net for jobless

The Obama administration rushed to include a health care safety net for laid-off workers in the recently signed stimulus bill, but has not told employers exactly how to make it work.

As a result, tens of thousands of jobless people could wait months before getting help paying for health insurance that their employers previously had covered.

“Too many people are still trying to figure this out,” said Heath Weems, director of human resources policy at the National Association of Manufacturers. “There is a lot of confusion.”

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So much for transparency and accountability.

Stimulus Provision May Inhibit Watchdog Investigations, Critics Warn

The Obama administration pushed through a provision in the $787 billion stimulus package that gives an oversight panel headed by a White House nominee powers to ask that independent watchdogs call off their investigations.

While the law still allows these inspectors general to refuse such requests, some lawmakers and the investigators have warned that the new arrangement could hamper the probes.

The written explanations that the watchdogs must file if they insist on proceeding could divert valuable resources needed for investigation and be so time-consuming that they might decide to acquiesce, critics said. They added that a requirement to provide this explanation could compromise criminal investigations by publicizing confidential information.

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The Obama administration put up the official Recovery.gov website “that lets you, the taxpayer, figure out where the money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is going”. 

But I think I’ll be keeping a closer eye on StimulusWatch.org, that lets “citizens around the country with local knowledge about the proposed “shovel-ready” projects in your city, to find, discuss and rate those projects”, to get a more accurate view of what’s happening on the ground.

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