Wednesday, April 18, 2012

GSA Scandal vs. Stimulus Non-Scandal

The Democrats and Republicans are working themselves into a bipartisan snit over who can express the most outrage over some videos and convention expenses. 
The General Services Administration spent about 800K on a mega-convention in Vegas.  There was a $75,000.00 "team-building" exercise that involved building bicycles.  Lots of great food.  Good times, good times. 
Here's Wikipedia, not always the best source, but usually the most concise:

On April 2, 2012, Martha Johnson, chief of the GSA, resigned after a report by the inspector general identified improper payments for a Public Buildings Service (PBS) Western Regions training conference in Las Vegas. Before turning in her own resignation, Johnson fired two other GSA senior executives, PBS head Robert Peck and senior advisor Stephen Leeds. Four PBS Regional Commissioners, who had been responsible for planning the conference, were placed on administrative leave. The conference was the most recent in a series of similar lavish conferences organized by GSA's Public Buildings Service. In previous years, PBS also held conferences in New Orleans, Oklahoma City, San Antonio and Lake Tahoe, where the Caesars hotel provided lakefront views, a lagoon-style indoor swimming pool and a 24-hour casino. U.S. Representative John Mica, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, called for a congressional investigation into the misuse of federal money by GSA. Mica indicated “The Las Vegas fiasco is just the tip of the iceberg,”

On April 5, 2012, a video was distributed by the House committee on Oversight and Government Reform after being uncovered through the Inspector General investigation. The video included a clip of a spoof video produced by GSA Public Buildings Service (PBS) employees and submitted as part of a contest during the controversial PBS Western Regions Conference. In the video, PBS employee Hank Terlaje jokingly brags about excessive government spending in GSA's Public Buildings Service in a parody of Travie McCoy & Bruno Mars’ “I Wanna Be a Billionaire.” Terlaje raps that if he were PBS Commissioner, he will never "never be under OIG investigation," would be "rollin' on 20s in my GOV," and "would buy everything your field office can’t afford." At the end of the video, uncovered by the GSA IG, it cuts to a clip from the actual PBS Western Regions Conference, in which the video was played at the conference's "Capstone Dinner Event." Following the playing of the video, Hank Terlaje received a standing ovation and applause from the crowd of PBS employees, and PBS Regional Commissioner Jeff Neely joined Terlaje on stage and exclaimed "Hank that was fun, that was amazing. I'm glad you won." PBS Deputy Commissioner David Foley went on to present Terlaje with an award as honorary PBS Commissioner for the day, and Foley joked that the hotel would like to talk to Terlaje about paying for the party that was held in the commissioner's suite during the previous night. Foley also joked about having to respond to congressional oversight and the Obama administration’s efforts to control executive pay.

Here are some of the video efforts of the GSA employees.  These guys do have some talent:

So why the uproar?  These people were given money to spend, and they spent the money. 
They pumped money into the economy.  In the words of The Teleprompter Jesus, the spending was "timely, temporary, and targeted". 

Here's a list of what some cynics have called the 100 Worst Stimulus Projects.  They include Monkeys On Marijuana studies, attempts to create Joke Machines, African Genital Washing programs and other methods of pumping money into the economy.

There is little or no difference between the parties of the GSA and the Stimulus programs of the last few years.  Both efforts got the job done, and rewarded the proper constituents. 

We should end the political grandstanding over the GSA conventions and videos.  This is the type of spending that pulled us back from the brink during the recent financial crisis. 

Be grateful.  And get back to work.  There are a lot of people in line waiting to spend some stimulus. 

Happy Day After Tax Day !!!

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