The Obama administration is seeking to exclude from federal oversight its new $30 billion dollar small-business lending program. Obama's rhetoric about transparency during the campaign was as phony as his vow to end the era of lobbying (last year was that industry's best year ever in Washington).
Senior Treasury officials have told the financial bailout program's inspector general that they are considering excluding a new $30 billion small-business lending initiative from the watchdog office's oversight.
The message, delivered at a meeting last week, sparked outrage from Republicans, who accused the Treasury of taking revenge on the watchdog for writing a series of scathing reports. Neil M. Barofsky, the special inspector general for the bailout, urged the Treasury to reconsider, arguing in a letter that the department was acting "contrary to the best interests of the taxpayer."
One representative, Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) is decrying the plot by Treasury to remove Barofsky's office (known by the acronym SIGTARP) from its oversight role regarding the spending of taxpayer dollars.
SIGTARP has been an aggressive watchdog for American taxpayers and this attempt to circumvent their oversight must not go forward," Issa said. "It is disturbing, but not altogether out of character, that this Treasury Department would attempt to deny SIGTARP the ability to conduct oversight of this proposed program."
Barofsky contends that the decision to exclude the watchdog would leave the small business program "vulnerable to potential fraud".
Barofsky must have been biting his lip when he wrote that diplomatic passage. Of course, it would make the 30 billion dollar program "vulnerable to fraud". That is the goal: to have a vast slush fund and honey pot to reward supporters with taxpayer dollars. I have written before that programs such as the Small Business Administration are ripe for abuse: loans become bribes or payoffs. The default rates on these "loans" are high. Obama and his team of Chicago Boys are once again bringing the worst of Chicago alderman mores to the federal government: backroom deals, pressure, payoffs, and bribes.
We just saw another instance of how Obama and his team of Chicago Boys loathe oversight -- seemingly just as much as criminals do. That is why crime occurs at night. That is also why one of our great American jurists, Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, referred to the benefits of openness and transparency when he coined the line that "sunlight is the best disinfectant." But Obama and his team don't want the sunlight; they prefer the shadows, closed doors and the absence of any scrutiny.
The team of wise guys is wising up. They are on a learning curve. Not on how to govern; but how to play their fun and games with no penalty. Why do I say they are learning?
In 2009, the Obama team fired and then insulted Inspector General Gerald Walpin, who had the temerity to point out irregularities in the spending of federal funds by the Sacramento Mayor and Obama political ally Kevin Johnson. Federal money that was supposed to go to help students and fund theatre and art programs instead had been diverted to" pad salaries, meddle politically in a school-board election, and have recipients perform personal services for Mr. Johnson, including washing his car". Walpin dutifully performed his job and reported this fraud on the federal taxpayer. Then all hell broke loose and the Obama team dumped tons of bricks and ran Walpin through the mud. Recall, Barack Obama's statement, "If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun." That is the modus operandi of a criminal. Evidently that is also the governing philosophy of our President.
General Walpin, the victim, was fulfilling his duty to watch how our money was being spent. Who gave the public his side of the story? Not the mainstream media, but only outlets such as Fox News, The Wall Street Journal, the National Review, and the Washington Times and AT. Walpin was a government whistleblower, calling out the abuses of the powerful. In theory, whistleblowers should be mainstream media darlings, given wide airplay. The narrative of a brave underdog crushed by the powerful nicely fits into their template of America the unjust, needing rescue by a brave media. But not when the whistleblowers blow the lid on problems reflecting badly on Barack Obama, their chosen transformational figure.
Only the presence on the media landscape of new media outlets serves to deter -- to the extent they can -- the Obama agenda. They serve as channels to inform the American people about the corruption crew in charge, and they are thriving, while the old media outlets are shriveling on the vine. Hence the need to shroud the 30 billion dollar program in a cloak of secrecy. Consequently the Obama administration will have the freedom to spend our money with abandon. We saw how stimulus money flowed disproportionally to Democratic districts (twice as much as GOP districts). But we won't see how this 30 billion dollar slush fund is spent. Will it flow to window companies headed by the husband of the White House official in charge of weatherization, as was stimulus money? Will the money flow to companies headed by Democratic owners, as was a lucrative no-bid contract for work on Afghanistan? Barack Obama has been noticeably thin-skinned when he has been criticized or his record scrutinized. This certainly was visible during the campaign. Now the same prickliness is clear when his track record as President is on the docket. Inspectors Generals-the unsung heroes-continue to bedevil his administration. Recently, the much ballyhooed weatherization program came in for some well-deserved criticism by Inspector General Gregory Friedman who termed the lack of progress of this boondoggle alarming .
Now he just wants to lop off the heads of Inspector Generals (thereby intimidating the remaining ones) and exclude programs from their purview.
Barack Obama does not like anyone else grading his performance. Their evaluations just might tarnish his self-proclaimed B+ average.
Will anyone be accountable for how our money is spent and wasted?
Obama has announced a program to publicize and stop the pork diet known as earmarks. His statements and speeches often are "just words" as he might say; they are all too rarely followed up by actions. However, if earmarks in government budgets do become a political problem what better way of using money top grease political wheels than funneling it through a small business program that has no one looking at the books? Will the small business slush fund (er..initiative) just become a fount of earmarks under another name ( this administration is quite conversant with the value of a thesaurus).
Crony capitalism is alive and well in Obama's Washington. Such a bastard form of capitalism thrives in darkness and behind closed doors, in country clubs and fine-dining restaurants, at soirees and state dinners.
The promise of transparency was just one more of a long litany of broken promises by Barack Obama and his team. Transparency is not what they want; that was merely a slogan.
What a gang wants is secrecy -- and that is what they will have.
The rest of us be damned.
Ed Lasky is news editor of American Thinker.