Follow the Money: Stimulus Abuse

It’s pretty disappointing (though not unexpected) to find out where some the stimulus money has actually wound up going. Here is one example (because two would make your brain short-circuit with frustration):

  • The stimulus package set aside $50 million to support National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) programs to help struggling artists stay employed.
  • Between April and September there were 16 groups and art community organizations that received $2 million from the NEA, and more than $1 million of that was from this stimulus package money, according to the Washington Times.
  • On August 6th, these 16 groups 5 others were invited to participate in a conference all with the White House office of public engagement to discuss how the arts could be used to promote the recovery agenda, including health care and energy reform.
  • All 21 groups endorse the president’s health care agenda.

The direct connection is stimulus money going to fund the art of independent groups who turn around and promote the president’s political agenda. Sounds like Chicago-style politics to me.

And here’s the kicker. Let’s assume, for the sake of an argument, that there is no cronyism here. That these art groups already supported the president’s plan and were planning to do art to support it and just happened to get recovery stimulus money. Avoiding the conflict of interest is a key reason the government shouldn’t be in business funding art projects.

So in following the money, I don’t see taxpayer money being spent to promote the long-term health of the economy. I see waste. I see politics as usual. I don’t see the change we were led to believe in.

(HT: Mike Flynn, check out more details on the story here.)

Also, George Will’s comments on this story here and a follow up piece here.