Support Transparency in the Stimulus!

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sunlight_stimulus.jpg As we near the passage of the Senate version of the stimulus bill, I want to take a second to make a plea for strong transparency measures. Here at Mother Jones, and certainly elsewhere on the left, we spent tons of time calling for increased public oversight of the Bush Administration’s myriad contractors. The nation’s business is being privatized, we’d say. We have a right to know whether these fat cat contractors are spending the taxpayers’ money well!

Well, the stimulus bill is a contractor’s dream. If you work in construction and you have a connection to someone in government — good heavens, get on the blower and start working your connect. The taxpayers, the ones funding the new projects that we all agree are necessary to jump start the economy, have a right to know how their money is being spent and whether jobs are being created as a result. Proper government oversight is a must under both parties.

The people, broadly speaking, agree with this. The Coalition for an Accountable Recovery, which is composed of groups from across the political spectrum who back transparency in the stimulus, asked 900 adults if they support “creating a national website where citizens can see what companies and government agencies are getting the funds, for what purposes, and the number and quality of jobs being created or saved.” Guess what? Over three-fourths said yes.

Here’s a PDF from OMB Watch that compares the transparency provisions in the House version of the stimulus to the provisions in the Senate version. If you’re the type to do such a thing, give your representatives a ring and demand a website like the one above. Tell them you want the strongest transparency possible. Good on ya.

(Photo of sunlight falling on a potential stimulus project by flickr user limeydog used under a Creative Commons license.)

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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