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July 9, 2009

Yes, the blue counties got most of the stimulus money, but…

Did the Obama administration intentionally steer the bulk of the stimulus money to counties that voted for him?

A story in the July 8 USA Today shows that Obama-backing counties did in fact win the stimulus lottery by a 2-to-1 margin.
Counties that supported Obama last year have reaped twice as much money per person from the administration's $787 billion economic stimulus package as those that voted for his Republican rival, Sen. John McCain, a USA TODAY analysis of government disclosure and accounting records shows. That money includes aid to repair military bases, improve public housing and help students pay for college.

The reports show the 872 counties that supported Obama received about $69 per person, on average. The 2,234 that supported McCain received about $34.
But is this compelling evidence of administration skullduggery?

Unless more evidence comes forward, I’d say that based on the types of projects being funded – especially public works projects – the money was fated to end up in urban areas, which for the most part are Democrat strongholds.

In other words, no real story there.

There is, however, some red meat in another story published by USAT the day before:
Under pressure to spend stimulus money quickly, many states are using the federal funds for short-term projects and to fill budget gaps rather than spending on long-term improvements, according to a report by congressional investigators.

The report, scheduled to be released Tuesday by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) at a House oversight hearing, also says many states aren't meeting some goals and requirements of the economic recovery program. Some states, for example, are not sending transportation funding to the most economically distressed areas, and they are using education funds to prevent layoffs rather than fund innovative new programs, the report says.
So, states aren’t having much luck resisting the urge to divert stimulus funds to other uses.  The money isn’t even reaching many of the Obama-backing counties.

Is it any wonder that some Democrats in Congress are talking about throwing even more money into another stimulus? 

The federal government may not have engineered the stimulus funds to go mostly to Obama country, but Democrat officials could not possibly have failed to notice that existing rules worked to their political benefit.

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