Today's roundup of stimulus coverage:
The Associated Press has today's must-read stimulus story, which reports that federal agencies have reported surprisingly few contacts with stimulus lobbyists. According to the AP, "the entire government reported only eight such lobbying contacts" in August. Since February, 197 contacts have been reported. But the Department of Defense reported just one of those, while the Department of Homeland Security reported none. The two agencies are disbursing $7.4 billion and $3 billion, respectively, in stimulus money. A spokesman for the Office of Management and Budget said the disclosure procedures are "an ongoing process."
The Hill reports that while stimulus funds are being used to create a nationwide map showing where broadband access is needed most, that map won't be finished until about half of the $7.2 billion in broadband stimulus money has already been spent. As a result, a number of public-interest groups are worried that the government is spending stimulus money too quickly. "We're spending a lot of money very quickly under the stimulus act, but we don't have the data to spend that money the right way," the research director at Free Press, a public-interest group, told The Hill.
Seventy-six percent of economists polled in August by the National Association for Business Economics said there's no need for another stimulus package, reports CNNMoney.com. In fact, half of those surveyed said fiscal policy is still too focused on stimulus; 20 percent believed the stimulus had even reduced growth over the last quarter. The survey found wide support for the policies of the Federal Reserve, however; nearly 70 percent called the Fed's monetary policy "about right."
The New York Times reports that the mob may be looking to cash in on the stimulus, according to investigators who track organized crime. The article doesn't include any actual reports of stimulus money going to the mob, but it recites a litany of past connections to big construction projects in the New York area. Federal, state and city officials say the controls on stimulus money are sufficient to detect fraud. But law enforcement officials still have "grave concerns," according to the Times.
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