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Obama: Are Stimulus Critics “Serious”?


The president makes his case:

Obama said with a touch of indignance that he “read the other day that critics of this plan ridiculed our notion that we should use part of the money to modernize the entire fleet of federal vehicles to take advantage of state of the art fuel efficiency. This is what they call pork. You know the truth. It will not only save the government significant money over time, it will not only create manufacturing jobs for folks who are making these cars, it will set a standard for private industry to match. And so when you hear these attacks deriding something of such obvious importance as this, you have to ask yourself — are these folks serious? Is it any wonder that we haven’t had a real energy policy in this country?”

The line item in question would allocate $600 million to the General Services Administration for the acquisition of motor vehicles, “including plug-in and alternative fuel vehicles.”

One supposes that the additional money is needed because there are no savings to be found in the program’s current budget, right? Well, the AP looked into that last summer:

Americans love their cars, and so apparently does Uncle Sam–who’s got 642,233 of them.

Operating those vehicles–maintenance, leases and fuel–cost taxpayers a whopping $3.4 billion last year, according to General Services Administration data obtained and analyzed by The Associated Press.

While Cabinet and other officials say they need the vehicles to do their jobs, watchdogs say mismanagement of the government fleet is costing millions of dollars a year in wasteful spending.

For example:

At the Department of Housing and Urban Development, fuel consumption and inventory are down, yet overall costs have increased significantly. Officials there can’t figure out why.

The Interior Department was told by its own watchdog that it should cut its inventory, but it’s added hundreds of vehicles.

The Department of Veterans Affairs has some cars that are barely driven. One just disappeared. [...]

Saving taxpayer dollars should be a priority, says Washington-based Citizens Against Government Waste.

“From a management standpoint, this is something that can easily be handled,” said Tom Schatz, president of the group. “It’s critical use or necessary use versus ‘well, we’ve got the money, let’s go out and buy some more cars.’” [emp. added]

So… we’ve got costs going up for no reason, agencies buying cars they don’t need, cars disappearing at random — and no way to trim that $3.4 billion budget.

Is Obama serious?


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