Tuesday, September 15, 2009

When $80 Billion is not that Important

On MSNBC this morning, when asked by Joe Scarborough whether the media missed the story on former "Green Czar" Van Jones, Chief White House correspondent and political director for NBC News, Chuck Todd defended the dearth of media attention as proportional to the importance of the role. Joe Scarborough pushed back, reminding Todd that even the left of center, New York Times had admitted the oversite. Todd stood by his assessment, stating in essence that there are so many people (Obama appointees) doing so many things that following the background of each one is just not that valuable. Really?

The newly created job of "Green Czar" put Jones in charge of $80 billion of the $787 billion in "stimulus" funds. I am not sure what is more shocking, that the appointments of such radical individuals is being made at all or that the major media are largely falling down on the job of scrutinizing these people.

The major media have nearly 100% ignored these arguably extra-constitutional appointments. It is one thing to appoint a specialist to dig into a problem in blue ribbon panel fashion, like a drug czar for instance, but quite another to put someone in charge of billions of tax dollars. Certainly, money is power and $80 billion is a lot of power. For anyone in the media to defend the laziness, flat dereliction, or deliberate obfuscation by saying that control of $80 billion is really not that important is beltway arrogance at its worst.

This kind of major media arrogance breeds suspicion. We are suspicious of the people who make these appointments and the media who choose not to discuss them. I did a fairly through search of the Whitehouse website looking for the page that proudly displays their Czar Dream Team. I hoped to see pictures and bio maybe in a nice complete listing. I hoped to get a total for the number of czars. No luck.

So it is not surprising that this has become a red state/blue state country. In the midwest we still think $80 billion is a lot of money. We would like to know about the agenda of the people spreading it around. What are they buying with our money? Who is getting incentivized and who is getting denied? What behavior are you seeking to create with that money? And by the way, what the hell is a "green job" anyway?

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