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Breadth of Proposed Stimulus Mirrors U.S. Budget

ProPublicaIt seems like the only one NOT getting a handout in the Obama stimulus plan is Larry Flynt.

A bailout for the porn industry, pitched last week by the Hustler magazine publisher, is nowhere in the Democrats' $825 billion stimulus plan, unveiled today. But there's plenty for everyone else.

With projects ranging from improving computer technology at the Farm Service Agency to cleaning up lead paint in public housing to installing explosive detectors in airports, the package reads like the Nano version of the federal budget.

The plan, released by House Democrats, aims to create or save up to 4 million jobs. It includes $275 billion in tax cuts along with major spending for energy efficiency, highway construction, computerized medical records and modernized schools. There's also money for unemployment and food stamp benefits and for states to avert laying off police, firefighters and teachers.

But with so much money going out -- the annual U.S. budget in comparison is $3.1 trillion -- how can the public follow the money to ensure it is used wisely?

The Democrats pledge "unprecedented accountability" and "a historic level of transparency."

President-elect Barack Obama will create a Web site to announce all contracts and grants, listing who got the money, what it is for and why it is justified. Program managers also will be listed, so the public can hold them accountable.

The plan would create a new Recovery Act Accountability and Transparency Board, made of inspectors general and deputy Cabinet secretaries to watch the spending. And as Obama has emphasized, the Democrats say there will be no "earmarks" -- money for politicians' pet projects.

All this, of course, depends on whether Republicans like it. Debate starts in earnest after Tuesday's inauguration with the goal of having it on Obama's desk by mid-February.

Take a look at the proposal (PDF) yourself, and if you smell any pork, send it our way.

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